Range Review: Spirit Thief
Our take on the Spirit Thief range of Tassie whisky!
Spirit Thief American Oak Tempranillo
A work in progress sample of spirit distilled by Spirit Thief and aged in ex-Tempranillo wine cask and sampled at 48.3%.
- Nose: Honey toasted coconut, Menthol chewing gum, fresh sourdough, ripe banana
Palate: Strawberries, white pepper, green grapes, tea cake.
- Body: Light bordering on medium.
- Length: Fairly short, not unexpected being a work in progress.
- Burn: None
- Complexity: An interesting mix of flavours, will be interesting to see how they develop
- Expressiveness: Fairly gentle but has no dramas getting the point across
- Texture: Delicate
- Balance: Well balanced with an interesting mix of sweetness and spice
- Aroma Enjoyment: Good – very keen to see the end result
- Taste Enjoyment: Good – but not as exciting as the nose – again, time will tell
- Overall enjoyment: Rather good – definitely enjoyable now but keen to revisit when its fully matured.
Distilled in Christchurch, NZ, in 2013 at the Workshops Whisky Distillery and matured in Oamaru in the South Island, this small batch release was originally commissioned for New Zealand Whisky Collection. However, earthquakes and other seismic events saw this spirit set aside in a refill Bourbon cask for 3 years before being re-racked for two years in small New Zealand Pinot Noir casks and one American oak Bourbon cask. After crossing the seas they were eventually married together in Spirit Thief’s Tasmanian bondstore in 2019. Expect crème-caramel and vanillin aromas, enmeshed with baked cherry-tart and delicate floral notes finishing with sugar and spice.
- Nose: Stewed apricots and prunes, muscovado sugar, multigrain toast
- Palate: Aniseed, sorrel, vanilla panacotta, Weet Bix, grape skins
- Body: medium to thick - chewy
- Length: medium with a savoury herb like finish
- Burn: little to none - quaffable
- Complexity: medium – needs a little time but a good amount of depth
- Expressiveness: a very upfront whisky – the ABV seems about right to let the flavours and nose do the talking
- Texture: Oily (yes!)
- Balance: A nice mix of savoury, sweet and malt, tends towards the savoury the more you sip
- Nose Enjoyment: An interesting nose, pleasant and fairly unique
- Palate Enjoyment: An atypical whisky with plenty of sugar, spice and herbs. Fascinating
- Overall Enjoyment: A dram worth spending some time with – plenty to tease out.
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This is the first double-distilled whisky to be released from Shene Estate. Known primarily for their triple-distilled Mackey’s whisky and infamous Poltergeist gin, we collaborated with Team Shene to explore a bolder spirit from their stills. Matured in 1st fill French Oak Grenache casks from the award-winning winery Main and Cherry in the Adelaide Hills. This whisky exhibits orange blossom, maraschino cherries and nutmeg aromas. Before opening on the palate to reveal stewed orchard fruits, blackcurrants and a complex balance of oak and spice with just a hint of white pepper.
- Nose: Overripe peach, thyme, chinese dried prunes, orange zest, nutmeg
- Palate: Preserved plums, black tea leaves, cranberries, honey, white pepper, fig glaze, cocoa
- Body: light to medium, tending towards a lighter style spirit
- Length: medium length, tends to become dryer with jaffa notes.
- Burn: Almost none – just a slight tickle on the nose and initial entry.
- Complexity: Very complex – a vast assortment of fruit, spice and sugars
- Expressiveness: Flavours and nose are rich, water helps make each note more distinct
- Texture: Decently oily
- Balance: An interesting juggling act with so much going on but by and large nails it
- Nose Enjoyment: Very good – interesting from the first to last sniff
- Palate Enjoyment: Also very good – may not be everyone's cup of tea (or whisky) but if you like preserved and salted fruit flavours its highly recommended
- Overall Enjoyment: An interesting look at a rare double distilled Shene whisky matured in a atypical cask, good stuff
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Brewed at Last Rites Brewing Co in Cambridge, Tasmania, this whisky was then distilled on-site at Belgrove Distillery where the pot stills are charged by direct flame, adding a signature charring to the flavour profile. Fully matured in 1st fill French Oak Mataro casks for 2 and a half years and aged in the Spirit Thief bond stores. This whisky explores maturation in an oft-overlooked historical workhorse of an Australian red-wine varietal; Mataro (also called Mourvédre or Monastrell by the Spanish). Forget about fruit. This is scorched peanuts and dark chocolate decadence, married with quince paste and a few drops of truffle oil and you have the perfect accompaniment to a Mediterranean charcoal-grill.
- Nose: Driftwood, Oolong tea, petrichor, smouldering pine needles, five spice powder
- Palate: Damp cigar, campfire, roasted peanuts, charcoal grilled eggplant, dark cocoa
- Burn: A bit of a prickle but the smoke and earthy characteristics keep things under control
- Complexity: This is a whisky with a lot on its mind – worth spending a decent amount of time with to discover what lies in the undergrowth and ashes.
- Expressiveness: Like most Belgrove distilled spirt, gets the point across in a very bold and forthright manner.
- Texture: Oily, but feels drier than it is because of the astringency the smoke and barrel influence have imparted
- Balance: A bit heavy on the earth and smoke – but that doesn’t detract in the slightest if that’s your thing.
- Nose Enjoyment: Loved the nose on this – like being transported to a rainy day of camping huddled around a campfire with a mug of hot, very dark tea
- Palate Enjoyment: Could be challenging for some but its uniqueness and earthiness struck a chord from the beginning with us.
- Overall Enjoyment: Definitely one for those with a penchant for smoke and savoury notes in their whisky – almost cliché at this point but this is unlike anything else – in a good way
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The prodigal sons, Adams distillery was The Promised Land of Tasmanian spirit; we had to supply them casks that would complement their bold audacious new-make. We settled on heavily-charred McLaren Vale 1st fill Shiraz. Now regarded as one of the shining lights of the Southern Hemisphere’s rising distilleries, we pay our respects by releasing this whisky at natural cask strength, unfiltered and unadorned. A single malt worthy of Hephaestus himself, the Greek God of fire and blacksmithing, this is roasted malts forged in fire and oak. Burnt cherrywood, cassia bark, split by citrus and vanillin, finishing with rich and dark star-anise. Put down your anvil!
- Nose: Ripe bananas/banana cake, watermelon rind, crème caramel
- Palate: Salted oat cakes, prunes, ginger ale, Sichuan pepper, maple syrup and charred oak
- Body: BIG
- Length: Medium to long finish. Lingers with heat and sweetness.
- Burn: Hides its heft fairly well but the heat does creep up on you and theres no doubt you are drinking a heft ABV whisky by the end.
- Complexity: A lot going on but it takes dedication to tease out some of the more subtle notes
- Expressiveness: Not a shy whisky, hits like a truck with a succession of flavours
- Texture: Oily and viscous
- Balance: Possibly the only flaw – this whisky is not subtle and tends towards the dark end of the spectrum. If this is your jam though, happy days.
- Nose Enjoyment: Promises a lot and delivers in spades (and bananas!)
- Palate Enjoyment: For fans of bigger, bolder whiskies. People obsessed with delicate floral whiskies need not apply.
- Overall Enjoyment: A banger for those who like being reminded they are drinking a seriously big whisky. Good way to end a night (or start it – we aren’t judging!)
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Given free reign at the famed Belgrove Distillery, we knew we wanted to make a bold and momentous whisky. With guidance from head-distiller Peter Bignell, the malted barley for this whisky was smoked with coastal peat after the gristing process, resulting in a much more intense layering of smoke. Matured in 2nd fill Spirit Thief ex-whisky casks for 18 months and finished in re-charred Cabernet Sauvignon French Oak for a further 10 months. Divisive by nature, this whisky contains heavy smoke, ash and charcoal from a steam-train, together with leatherwood honey and peanut brittle all set alight on a bonfire in an apple orchard. Honour thy spirit!
- Nose: Linseed oil, peanuts, preserved lemon, burnt rubber tyres
- Palate: Salted peanut brittle, red gum honey (dark and woody), honey glazed salty ham, burnt marshmallow skin, cigar smoke.
- Complexity: Not massively complex but I feel that’s beside the point – this was crafted to accomplish one thing…
- Expressiveness: Another Belgrove and again shy is not in the dictionary here. Pulls zero punches.
- Texture: Oily, chewy and raw.
- Balance: There is some to this whisky which is a feat unto itself. Not poised on a tightrope, more like balanced on a heavy duty, oil soaked car hoist.
- Nose Enjoyment: If you like things dirty and smoky this one is for you.
- Palate Enjoyment: One of the rawest and down right dirty whiskies we’ve come across in a long time – not for everyone or the faint of heart but its got cult status written all over it for the steam train / car shop / bonfire brigade (you know who you are!)
- Overall Enjoyment: If mezcal could be a whisky it would be like this – crazy but awesome stuff, if you like your spirits with a bit of an industrial warehouse fire vibe to them.
Find it here!