Dramtacular: Starward, Teeling Irish Whiskey, Bruichladdich, Octomore 6.3

The Whisky Room at the Clock Hotel in Surry Hills hosted a “Dramtacular” event, an evening of fine drams on taste featuring Starward, Teeling Irish Whiskey and Bruichladdich distilleries including the limited release Octomore 6.3 Islay Barley.

Seven whiskies, three distilleries from three countries made for an educational and entertaining evening presented by David Vitale, CEO of New World Distillery, Martin Lynch, Teeling Irish Whiskey Brand Ambassador and Gee David, Bruichladdich Ambassador.

L-R: Gee David, Martin Lynch, David Vitale

Starward/New World Whisky Distillery

Starting with Starward, David Vitale presented both expressions, the original Starward Apera Cask and the newly released Starward Wine Cask. He highlighted the effects of distillation and maturation and the impact Melbourne’s weather plays on the faster maturation of whisky. You can read our in-depth article on New World Whisky Distillery.

The tasting was a great opportunity to compare the two expressions side by side. Starward Apera Cask has more of a tropical fruit character with pears, bananas, glace cherries, sweetness and spice while the Starward Wine Cask has more berries and red fruit on the palate, with more complexity and fine tannins on the finish. You can read our full review of Starward Wine Cask here.


Teeling Irish Whiskey

Martin Lynch took guests on a journey to Ireland with the history of Irish whiskey and early 1400s when the first written record of whisky in Ireland in the Annals of Clonmacnoise. Teeling Irish Whiskey was established in 2012 and is a new brand on the Australian market. The distillery produces non chill filtered whiskeys at 46% ABV using various cask finishes.

Two expressions were on taste. Teeling Single Grain Whiskey is made from maize and aged just under 6 years aged exclusively in Californian Cabernet Sauvignon casks. While it is dubbed as a “breakfast whiskey”, it brings a breadth of flavours to the palate with spicy notes, red berries, and balanced fine tannins on the finish. A most enjoyable dram at any time of the day.

Teeling Small Batch Whiskey is the flagship brand and one that is aged in ex bourbon and finished in Flor de Cana rum casks for 6 months. The rum finish imparts sweet spice and raisin notes into a full bodied dram.

Teeling Irish Whiskey is well worth keeping an eye out on and you can read our full review of all the Teeling Irish Whiskey expressions available in Australia here.


Bruichladdich/Octomore 6.3

Bruichladdich was reinvented in 2000 and the focus of the evening’s tasting was on terroir which retired Master Distiller Jim McEwan brought back the concept to make whisky using Islay Barley.

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2006 is made from unpeated barley grown on Dunlossit Farm and brings to the palate a young and vibrant flavour profile with cereal notes, honey, butterscotch and some saltiness on the finish. This is the second release of Islay Barley dram after 2004 with 2007 and 2009 becoming available soon.

Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2008 was Jim McEwan’s response to the naysayers that said Bruichladdich was not a true Islay whiskey because it is unpeated. This Port Charlotte expression brings strong peat, sweet fruit, vanilla and cereal notes to the palate with a good dose of bonfire smoke. In short, it’s sweet, smoky with a velvelty finish.

Next was the most anticipated moment of the evening, the tasting of the Octomore 6.3 Islay Barley, the world’s most heavily peated whisky at 258ppm, 100 more ppm than its predecessor. Only 16 bottles were available in Australia at the time of the tasting and this dram will not be replicated. It is also the last of the Octomore that has been produced by Jim McEwan.

Made from 100% Islay grown barley, the whisky is aged for 5 years, non-chill filtered and bottled at 64% ABV. Bright amber in colour with a high viscosity on the glass, the nose exhibits complex peat, some sweetness and nuttiness.

The palate simply explodes with a massive hit of peat that lingers for minutes, some honey sweetness, vanilla and cereal notes, bringing up some salted caramel, soft oak, and dryness to the fore. The whisky surprisingly does not feel like it has 64% ABV. The finish extra-long, and keeps giving 10 minutes later. You can read the full review of Octomore 6.3 here.

If you’re a fan of peated whiskies and Octomore, grab a bottle if you still can.

Dramtacular was held on Monday 17 August 2015 at the Whisky Room in the Clock Hotel, Surry Hills.


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.