Jim Murray author of the whisky bible has been exploring the southern hemispheres whisky offering and by all accounts is considerably impressed. The 1988 New Zealand Whisky Collection (25 years) has just been awarded 96.5 (out of 100) and the status of liquid gold. Produced in the now closed Willowbank distillery and bought by the New Zealand Whisky Collection this whisky will be the last of it’s line and the circa £130 price tag is likely to push on up so grab yourself a bottle while you can.
The End of New Zealand Whisky?
Sadly their are no active distilleries in New Zealand, Willowbank distillery in Dunedin was the last to close its doors in 1999 so the future of the New Zealand market is uncertain making this offering considerably more significant than it would otherwise be. The distillery was in operation only 23 years from 1974 to 1997 when it ceased production, it was mothballed in 1999.
While it is a stated aim of the New Zealand Whisky Collection to open a new distillery at some point in the future, for now they are running through an inventory of only 443 barrels (some 80,000 litres not counting the inevitable angels share). The only distillery currently planned is the Zecent group, who despite having been approved permission for the creation of a new distillery have yet to secure building approval.
By all accounts the company knows how to buy great whisky, its “DoubleWood” won the award for Best Australasian Blend in London, its South Island Single Malt picked up the DoubleGold at the San Francisco Spirits Competition and now the 1988 has taken its place at the top of the southern hemisphere. Jim Murray commented that this is “proof that the country in which a whisky is made is irrelevant. Great whisky is always great whisky”. Still with no record of actually producing their own the company has large shoes to fill and when these older malts are gone there will be a long wait to find out if they can repeat these past successes
A Magnificent Whisky
Jim Macallan describes it as ”Deft peat forms the most delicate shell imaginable over no less fragile citrus. Soft salt, still a little grist after all these years, background vanilla: almost something akin to a moist lemon drizzle cupcake.”
Jim’s Tasting Notes:
deft peat forms the most delicate shell imaginable over no less fragile citrus. Soft salt, still a little grist after all these years, background vanilla: almost something akin to a moist lemon drizzle cupcake … with a few atoms of smoke thrown in .. ;
the adroit citrus mingles with the most alluring malt imaginable. The shadow of smoke acts like a siren while the tannins just up their game slightly. Just so well integrated … ;
long, with a feeble spice buzz. Evidence of the shortage of copper from the cask comes through only at the very death;
I’ve not tried it yet, my bottle is still winging its way to me but I’ll report back as soon as it arrives!