In October 2013 I met Greg Ramsay (a.k.a. The Tasmanian Devil) and his Master Distiller Cyril Yates. Three years earlier he bought the New Zealand Malt Whisky Company and all of its remaining stock of 450 casks. Under the new regime several new releases saw the light of day. Some reduced to 40% and some at cask strength. When Greg and Cyril came to London (where I met them), they also had a pré release version of their 25yo with them. They brought some sample bottles bottled at 46% ABV and asked a few people what they thought of it. Yours truly got on his high “reduction” horse and opted that all future releases should be 46% ABV as probably many others did. Yes I understand that reduction to 40% means lower tax and more output, but the Whisky tasted so much better. Earlier I reviewed The South Island 18yo and the South Island 21yo, which both are pretty good, but which I thought, suffered a bit by reduction to 40% ABV. By now the 25yo has been released at 46%, but here I’ll review the sample I got of the pré release version. It should be the same Whisky.
Color: Almost full gold.
Nose: Highly aromatic and super fruity. This brings back memories, because in London I liked this so much I couldn’t help myself and try it several times. Tropical fruits abundant. Sugared pineapple, mango and passion fruit. Old bottle waxiness. This leaps out of your glass with a big smile. Hints of bourbon vanilla and elegant wood. The wood here is just lightly present in no way does it interfere with the fruit, nor giving a big backbone, although it adds a little spice. No, this is another kind of Whisky.
Taste: Fruit and cream, Whipped cream and vanilla pudding. All of the fruits above but also maracuja. So much better at this strength. Warming and obviously a bit hotter. Slight hints of sawdust, slightly bitter oak and soapy florality. This one has it all. Slight nuttiness from the wood. Towards the finish a new kind of fruit enters the fold: citrus fruit. I get the smallest hints of red oranges and grapefruit (not the bitterness especially, that is still more woody). In the finish there are also hints of banana and banana foam candy, yes both. How is that for a fruit basket. Get me this when I ever wind up in hospital. This Malt has excellent balance and just tastes fabulous.
This is a again a step up from the 21yo. Although that one was very good, when you compare that one to this 25yo, wow what a fabulous Malt this turned out to be. This Whisky needs the higher strength. Guys 46% is the way to go. Wonderful.