Humanising the art of whisky!
For those who have yet to experience the Craft Works distillery or the man behind it, Craig 'Crafty/Craft Worker' Field (what rock have you been hiding under?) you can find him, more often than not, in his distillery shed behind the Royal Hotel in Capertee, NSW. Capertee sits on the main (Castlereagh) highway between Lithgow and Mudgee and is located on the edge of the widest canyon in the world, the Capertee Valley. Such a picturesque part of the world, definitely worth the visit, stay for the whisky.
Crafty produces whisky of his own design and mash-bill from the Craft Works Distillery as well as maturing and releasing independently bottled spirits sourced from five other Aussie distilleries. A love of whisky came first, soon followed by the independent bottling, and ultimately the full top to bottom whisky production and distilling gig. His stated goal is to 'humanise the art of whisky' which he does by engaging with whisky and spirits drinkers from all walks of life and all levels of knowledge, stripping back the marketing spiel and highlighting the real stories and real people in the whisky industry and sharing that with in a way that any Australian drinker, whisky or otherwise can relate to.
Craft Works Independent Bottling Release #3 - RAGE! @ 59.8% ABV
The first thing you notice about RAGE! is its colour. It’s dark, super dark with a deep redness in hue (all natural colour direct from the cask). At just over 2 years old and aged in a Pinot Noir cask, the spirit was sourced from an undisclosed NSW distillery (that has not yet had an official release) and is distilled from 100% Voyager Craft Malt NSW malted barley. The label is red and loud, perfectly summaries what is inside the bottle. Only 220 bottles produced. RRP $180. AUD
RAGE Tasting Notes:
Nose: Meaty red wine jus, barely ripe raspberries, apricot and coconut roll – very fragrant.
Palate: First impression is how 'fat' and ‘syrupy’ the spirit is. Faint undercurrent of black currant, licorice bullets, black pepper and butter menthols with the predominant flavours being spirit led, malt, farmyard and tobacco plant.
Finish: Medium/Long in length, at 59.8% ABV this whisky has a nice balance letting the spirit showcase amongst flavours from the cask.
Verdict: This has to be our most favourite release from Crafty to date. Top notch mate, keep 'em coming!
About Craft Works Distillery:
Status: Operational — Founded 2018 —Distilling commenced 2018.
Location: Capertee, New South Wales
Spirits Being Distilled: Whisky, Eau de Vie.
Head Distiller: Craig "Crafty" Field
Still particulars: 970L copper pot - six electric element heated (“Sunflower Pot Still No.1”).
Climate: Capertee is just west of the Great Dividing Range in NSW (approx. 45mins North of Lithgow) and as such experiences some pretty extreme variations in minimum and maximum temperatures year-round, particularly in summer. Humidity is also highly variable but generally lower than coastal NSW, so ABV tends to rise as the Angels take their share.
Barley: Craig has spent a lot of time zeroing on a mash-bill that matched the vision in his head, ending up on a fairly complex mix of malts, ranging from pale to deep chocolate. All malts are sourced and grown in Australia and supplied by Voyager Malts out of Griffith, NSW.
Process: All milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling and ageing carried out onsite. Originally an Independent bottler before starting his own distillery. Wash was previously made to spec by Zig-zag brewing, now all processes carried out onsite.
Casks: All of them.... If you ever get the chance to visit his distillery, please do – Crafty loves a chat. What you’ll immediately notice is just the diversity of casks Crafty has managed to fit inside his little shed, but more importantly each cask has its own story.
Other Spirits: Eau de Vie and New Make Spirit (NMS)
Awards: Craig’s independent bottling release of BLAK SOUL BEAST won Silver in the Independent Bottling Challenge in UK and has received a Bronze in the 2019 London Spirits Competition.
The majestic view Crafty gets to enjoy whilst distilling. Capertee Valley, NSW - Photo by rylstonekandos.com
About Craft Works Distillery, NSW:
Owned and operated by Craig Field, Craft Works Distillery originally began life as an independent bottler of Australian whisky, Craft Works Whisky. Driven by an unshakeable vision and undeniable passion for whisky and sharing said whisky with others, Craig has bit by bit established a fully operational whisky making operation in the back shed of the Capertee Royal Hotel.
The still Crafty employs (named Sunflower Still No1) is a 970 litre full copper pot still with a shell and tube condenser fabricated and built by a good friend, Mark Burns (Aisling distillery). With a focus on experimentation with malts, mash bills, casks and collaborations, Craft Works Distillery is aimed fairly and squarely at the craft end of the spirits spectrum, and I doubt Crafty would want it any other way.
Craig, like a lot of Australian distillers’ credits other Aussie distillers for sharing their time, passion and expertise with him, naming Brian Hollingsworth from Black Gate, Martin Pye from Riverbourne and Mark Burns from Aisling distillery as his main mentors. Crafty has also obtained a certificate from the UK Institute of Brewing & Distilling.
Thank you to Craig for providing TWL a sample of RAGE single malt. We are very excited to see (and taste) what comes next and look forward to being part of the growing fanbase of one of the most passionate bottlers/distillers in Australia today. Stay tuned to the Craft Works Distillery website here as well as The Whisky List (of course) for news of their forthcoming releases and to purchase some of their whisky for your very own!
Photos courtesy of May Lawrence Photography.