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Water of Life - Glenlivet Caribbean Cask and Bellarine Distillery

Glenlivet is an interesting brand as its portfolio ranges from very affordable mass compatible offerings to expressions that cater to the discerning aficionado.

Given what Balvenie accomplished with their fourteen-year-old Caribbean cask expression, I was intrigued when I learned about Glenlivet looking at introducing their own rum cask variant to their entry level range and if it would add another facet to its DNA of staple affordable whiskies.

As far as first expressions go, it is essentially a drop that lives up to how Glenlivet announced it, i.e., “a well balanced and exceptionally smooth whisky” with it being bottled at 40% ABV.

Looking for further details as to the maturation, the type of rum barrels and the length of the rum cask barrel finish do unfortunately not yield a result, but given that Pernod Ricard is associated with Havana Club and Montilla, so an educated guess would have me think that casks that previously housed these rums could have been used.

Honey-esque in colour, what tickles the nostrils upon approach is a welcoming melange of syrupy, brown sugar, ripe apples, sultanas, butterscotch, sugarcane and citrussy highlights.

On the top of the mouth, what the aromas hinted at materializes in terms of apples, oranges and vanilla flavours, which are accentuated by white pepper notes and oaky tannins.

The most interesting part is the mid-length finish as it constitutes the part where caramelly, soft fruity flavours blend in with notes of coffee and rich wood flavours, culminating in a crescendo of dried spices.

Summa summarum, Glenlivet’s Caribbean Cask is a good quality affordable entry point for the uninitiated into the realm of rum cask finished whiskies with a bit of a tropical tinge.

Located south-west of Melbourne and separating Bass Strait from Port Phillip Bay lies the Bellarine Peninsula.

Being an ever evolving tourist region with a variety of resorts, beaches and wineries, it was only a matter of time until the first distillery was to be established – a feat that was accomplished with the inception of Bellarine Distillery in 2015.

With inspiration drawn from a trip to the Scottish highlands a couple of years prior, the seed was planted for Lorelle and Russell Watson to commence channelling their alchemy in the distillation of gins, for which they found an ex-chicken farm to not only build their empire on but also grow botanicals to refine their unique range of gins.

Fast forward six years and Bellarine Distillery has become an institution in the realm of gin with their idiosyncratic “Teddy and the Fox” gin, named after the real-life fable that occurred with their pooch Teddy having an incident with the local equivalent of Reynard the Fox.

With the precedent of drawing on occurrences relating to the interaction of their pets with surrounding wildlife having been set, a theme was found for the nomenclature of their range.

Utilizing their custom-made still, Bellarine Distillery honours traditional distilling methods with the focus firmly set on using organic, local ingredients to infuse their had crafted emissions with botanicals giving a sense of provenance.

Bellarine’s Teddy and the Fox’ core expression rests on a juniper forward foundation, which is enriched in equal measure by star anise, orris root, lemon myrtle, orange and coriander, with the result carrying refreshing citrus notes, backed by the melange of the aforementioned botanicals unfolding their magic.

Being into whiskies, I specifically enjoy that it lends itself perfectly well for sipping.

As far as Bellarine Distillery’s gins are concerned, Rosey & the Rabbits, Aged Gin is my favourite expression: Made in small batches and refined with a maturation period in retired Pinot Noir barrels from Scotchman’s Hill Winery, this one offers much more than the standard juniper heavy variant.

As one would expect, the cask infuses the spirit with delicate oaky nuances and sugary highlights, which are set against a backdrop of

sweet and tart flavours, limes and hints of salt, culminating in a peppery crescendo, which adds immensely to the complexity.

Again, perfectly sippable and another expression I would refrain from diluting it with tonic.

The Old Dodger is Bellarine’s heavyweight in terms of alcohol content, being a Navy Strength Gin. Marrying botanicals from terra australis with ones from the old worlds, The Old Dodger is being created through a deliberately long distillation process to ensure that the heavier oils are fully extracted, resulting in a flavourful experience. Team it up with a Mediterranean tonic and you got a winner.

Trooper & the Roo rounds out Bellarine Distillery’s portfolio with a desserty lil’ number: With the emphasis resting on the nutty end of the flavour spectrum, the cacao and roasted wattle seed imbue this expression with delicate dark chocolate, dark cherries, almond flavours and just the faintest hint of citrus.

Given the quality and uniqueness of Bellarine’s gin range, I cannot wait to try their whisky expression.


T • August 11, 2021

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