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Made with the distillery doors open - Kinglake Whisky.

Kinglake Distillery has been on our radar for the longest time, especially since fellow whisky aficionados have never not spoken highly of the distillery’s emissions when the topic of boundary pushing Australian distilleries came up in conversation.


Named after the area it is situated in against the backdrop of Melbourne, i.e. the combination of forest, farmland, a national park and a small township that is Kinglake, Kinglake Distillery incarnated in 2021 with its first release and has been on a steep upward trajectory ever since.

Informed by the founder duo’s passion for fine spirits and a deep appreciation for their off the grid natural habitat, Kinglake Distillery uses the water from one of the mountain streams that rises on the property as it proves to have great mineral content for making whisky, thereby infusing their creations with the DNA of the terroir, which is only further enhanced and accentuated by the uncontrollable element the weather adds to the barrel ageing and the fact that natural yeasts and pollens are not being denied access to the ferments.


Sounds like quite a handful that sets Kinglake Distillery apart from other distilleries?


Well, it is.


While other distilleries looking to establish themselves tend to pursue the approach of creating an influx of cash via proffering gin or basically whisky that is not ready yet, being that compromise in colour is grey, Kinglake’s commitment to excellence was further substantiated with the decision to rather sell everything they owned and spend time on refining ferments and mash bill to nail the DNA of what they wanted to become known for rather than offer a subpar product.


From what I have been able to taste so far, the efforts and stoicism were well worth it as the result is a carefully calibrated mash bill comprised of deliberately selected malts based on an astute knowledge of which farmer grew them, and when.

A barrel aging regime that is like most of Kinglake’s processes a nod to the traditional Scottish approach, where attention is paid carefully to residuals in the barrel not outweighing other elements of the whisky with its mainline being ex-bourbon casks and an endeavour to refrain from engineering scarcity by experimenting with too many different cask releases adds another component to a winning formula.


My favourite Kinglake Distillery expression and favourite new discovery of 2023 thus far is the beautifully pure and totally unfiltered little number that is the Full Noise Cask Strength expression.


Clocking in at 61.5%, this heavy, flavourful spirit was released as a new addition to Kinglake’s core range.


Based on a carefully calibrated mash-bill of four malts, i.e. three sourced from New South Wales together with one a heavily peated one from Scotland, and aged for the full-term of two years in ex-Makers Mark bourbon barrels before being bottled at cask strength from specially selected barrels, this little number is an exercise par excellence in the creation of an uncompromising, heady flavour bomb.


What I love about Kinglake Distillery’s Full Noise expression is that the final product is so much more than the more sum of the mere individual components that went into the production: There is an integral je-ne-sais-quoi element to the taste that makes it unique and stand out significantly from other Australian whiskies.


Be it the local unfiltered water from Chaser Creek, the layer of pollen from the gum trees lying on top of the water or Kinglake’s unique micro-climate that adds its magic to the maturation process – Kinglake’s Full Noise is an incredible whisky at a reasonable price point, which is bound to pave the way for the Kinglake Distillery’s ambition to become the go-to Australian handmade single malt.

One can only hope to get one’s paws on the much fabled about, and even more charred, limited See Ya Later Alligator expression…


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Words by AW.

Photos courtesy of Kinglake Distillery.

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