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Belgrove Peated Rye Impressions


REVISITED 3rd April 2017 

What is it? 

Distillery: Belgrove, Tasmania, Australia
Name: Peated Rye Whisky
Make: Tasmania Single-Barrel Peated 100% Rye Whisky
Extra Info: Belgrove sets a benchmark for sustainable craft distilling. Founder Peter Bignell grows his own rye, made his own copper still from scratch, collects rainwater from the roofs of his sheds, heats it with biodiesel that he makes himself from waste oil (which also powers his tractors, forklift and truck), feeds his livestock used whisky mash and recycles waste water for irrigation. Lastly, the whisky is aged on site and hand bottled by Peter. How's that for environmentally responsible farming and Ozzy ingenuity?

ABC Australia Radio Interview (7:20)

Listen to Peter Bignell talk to ABC Rural's Nick Bosley-Pask about his Belgrove Distillery. LINK

Why did I buy it?

It has been two years since the last Belgrove Peated Rye was bottled (I know this because Peter said the file he uses to print the label himself, was last opened on his computer two years ago). I had heard good things about the Peated Rye but had never been able to find a bottle until now. It is aged for a little over two years in a single 100L ex-Overeem malt whisky cask and peated with locally sourced, tea tree swamp peat from Waterhouse on the north-east Tasmanian coast. Peter pops up from time to time at local markets, but you can always buy directly from the Belgrove website if you cannot make it to Tasmania.

What did I think of it?

Presentation: The small square-profile 500ml bottles with home printed and hand written labels have a delightful craft market look to them and the black wax seal and stamp add an air of elegance. Unfortunately, the wax seal hides a plastic screwtop underneath, rather than a cork stopper, but it is of little concern to most.

Appearance: Naturally light Amber in colour, non-chill filtered and bottled at 52.3% ABV.

Aroma: Candied smoke. Notes of sweet mints and vanilla rise above a restrained smoke. Inhaling at varying distances from the glass help isolate each aroma since it doesn't belch smoke as soon as you pour, like some of the peatier Islay malts. Clove spice presents momentarily, encouraging me to dig for more aromas with my nose in and out of the glass like one of those drinking bird toys. (I think my initial notes were just about bang on the money. I love nosing this whisky, it has so may layers yet very little alcohol burn for such as high ABV.)

Flavour: It is not until you take your first sip, that this whisky fully comes alive. The mouthfeel is deliciously oily and full bodied, urging you to delay swallowing with flavours that seem to develop endlessly. The smoke that appeared a little coy on the nose, blasts forward evoking memories of crunching singed clumps of grass underfoot while walking through a freshly burnt out section of Australian bush. Some fruity sweetness and powdered ash settle on the tongue. Draw in some air to bring out new intense aromas of smouldering bark, rising into your sinus cavity from the gently warming liquid in your mouth. Spices tingle on your taste buds as the whisky warms to body temperature, but it never reaches the pins & needles intensity of some other high-alcohol whiskies. It is smooth, measured and balanced. (I think the cooling menthol comes in a little earlier than the finish and perhaps presents as peppermint.)

Finish: Just when I thought it had given all it had to give, the Belgrove Peated Rye continues to deliver. A smooth, medium to long finish of cooling menthol and fading spice with one last parting puff of smoke leaving behind a slightly bitter aftertaste. What a whisky! (Yep, simply divine. One of my favourites.)

Would I buy it again?

Yes, $200 AUD for 500ml isn't cheap, but it is probably at the lower end of typical Tasmanian craft whisky prices and is fully justified considering the locally sourced ingredients and personal care that goes into every bottle; not to mention the very limited supply of around 150 bottles. The Belgrove Peated Rye is a delicious and truly unique 100% Tasmanian whisky from an innovative sustainable craft distillery and a must try for any peated whisky fan or fan of Australian whisky in general. (I'm sure there is none left by now, but I will be one of the first in line to secure a bottle of the next batch.)

Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.


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