Twelve hours, two boarding passes, a couple of turbulent bumps, but otherwise an enjoyable flight was our journey into the unknown. As we stepped out of the airport we were greeted with a rather cold breeze, quite unorthodox considering October brought with it the season of spring.
The Southern Hemisphere was welcoming – quiet, peaceful and friendly with not many high rise buildings to separate us from the warm rays of the sun. Sprinkled with uncrowded gardens and vast greens, the lack of angry motorists and bumper to bumper traffic, we were already enjoying our stay. So when I got the opportunity to pick up something for our fortnightly tasting, it was only natural that I try one of the many produce that this land had to offer, aka- the 23rd St. Distillery hybrid whisky.
Other than the name which is taken from where the distillery is stationed – the corner of 23rd Street and Renmark Avenue, this whisky is a blended breed of two castes – bourbon and scotch. There isn’t really an age tied to this whisky but it is an amalgamation of bourbon that is on average two years and scotch that is around five and hence the tag – ‘hybrid whisk(e)y’. And to ensure the blending process is consistent, the contents are then finished in ex Bourbon barrels over the next few months.
ABV : 42.3%
Nose: Dried honey and caramel accompanied by the richness of butter, sherry and dried fruits. Mildly charred and lightly citrusy from the zest of grapefruit; sweet hints of cantaloupe slices and a mild creaminess emanating from coconut shavings; all concealed by bits of licorice, cinnamon, some wood and ginger peels.
Taste: Honey infused with brown sugar, rich in malt and caramel. Some char, woody and fruity – bananas, sultanas, dates and dried fruit with some reminiscent spice of white pepper.
Finish: Medium : Dates and caramel with a hint of spice.
I must admit, this ‘hybrid blend’ did surprise me; I wasn’t very confident of a scotch-bourbon mix, as to me these seemed like two distinct genres that really didn’t have anything in common. This whisky is testament that there can be peace and harmony; and when the notes are well orchestrated, you can easily find yourself tapping your feet to a very catchy tune.
The sherry influence on the palate does indicate that some of the whisky used have been previously matured in European sherry oak, though there isn’t anything to validate this. The spirit is subtle, restrained and well balanced – sweet, malty and quite rich. It is mildly oily on the tongue and the flavors can be construed as well spaced and mildly complex. Letting it breathe out in the open for a while exposes those sweet, woody, cinnamon like bourbon characteristics, the scotch on the whole displays a more quieter though prominent profile on the palate.
Verdict – This whisk’e’y is a treat, especially considering the novelty behind it – a unison that gives off a somewhat differently flavored whisky. I can surely see myself with another bottle of this oddly blended breed.