New World Projects PX Cask

Exclusive to Baranows Lounge in Hawthorn, Melbourne

Well, well well, what do we have here? An Australian single cask whisky? I’ve seen that before. Bottled at full cask strength? I’ve also seen that. An Australian single cask, cask strength whisky, fully matured in an ex-pedro ximenez cask direct from Spain? Now that I haven’t come across.

Baranows PX 1

Being the sucker that I am for whiskies with a heavy sherry influence, I knew this thing had my name written all over it.

New World Whisky Distillery 

If you’re reading this from Australia, you may have heard of these guys before. Or if you haven’t, perhaps you’re aware of their more mainstream whisky brand, Starward whisky. If you’re reading this from overseas, both names are likely to be completely foreign to you (though I’m sure that will change in the near future).

Founded in 2004, New World Whisky Distillery is the brainchild of former IT (e-learning) businessman, Mr David Vitale. Fast forward six years and it’s probably safe to say that Starward Whisky is one of the most affordable, approachable and accessible Australian single malts available in our local market today.

Whilst the brand Starward is reserved for their readily available offerings, David fully appreciates the fact that whisky geeks get all excited about limited release, cask strength bottlings. For that reason, he gave his employees the green light to setup New World Projects.

Think of New World Projects as an experimental department of the New World Whisky Distillery. They’ve released a number of single cask bottlings over the last 12 months or so, including some pretty interesting combinations. Think: a red wine cask with virgin oak lids. Or perhaps a ginger beer cask-finished whisky, where the cask was seasoned with ginger beer they brewed themselves.

The whisky: Baranows Selection #2 

So when I heard about their latest offering – this New World Projects PX cask, bottled exclusively for Baranows Lounge in Melbourne – I knew I had to try it.

Baranows PX 2

In case you thought the colour in the first picture was influenced by the background, here’s another, directly under a desk lamp. This is a serious Darth Vader whisky! Yes, it’s all natural colour as well.

One of the other great things I love about New World Whisky Distillery is that their Distillery Manager, Ian Thorn, keeps immaculate records on everything they produce as well. A short email exchange yielded some great info on this cask.

  • Single cask 110304-06-446 was a 50 litre re-coopered ex-pedro ximenez cask sourced from Montilla (Córdoba) CP in Spain
  • It was filled with new make spirit on 4 March 2011 at 55.7% ABV
  • It was emptied and bottled on 1 September 2014 at cask strength of 59.3% ABV (yes, in our climate water evaporates quicker than alcohol, leading to higher ABVs)
  • The cask lost a huge 26.5% of its contents over that three and a half year maturation period, meaning just 44 bottles of this whisky remained.

So in pictures and on paper, there’s little doubt that this thing looks and sounds pretty special, but as always, the proof is in the pudding.

Baranows PX Glass

Nose

After a short while in the glass, this is nothing but rich and desserty. Did I mention it’s rich? Crème brulee, complete with vanilla notes, caramel and a hint of that banana estery note that I often associate with Starward whisky. Sweet caramelized figs, prunes, brown sugar and some cinnamon. The nose on this is big, young and spritely – nothing closed or dusty about this, as you can sometimes find with older, full-term sherry matured whisky.

There is some alcohol (after all, it’s 59%), but it’s not as fierce on the nose as you might expect from something this young. I could seriously spend half an hour nosing this one. A true after dinner dram.

Palate

On first sip I got an instant burst of salivation – no avoiding the alcohol here, but it’s not unpleasant. It’s viscous, thick and full on the palate. There’s an initial burst of sweetness, but it’s a fair bit drier on the palate than you’d expect from the nose. More of that classic PX cask comes out now, with dried red fruits and those classic Christmas cake flavours (raisins, prunes, spice and a slight bitter nuttiness).

Baranows PX tears and legs

Putting the glass back down I couldn’t help but stare at it – check out those fat lingering legs! (that sounds really weird, doesn’t it?)

Finish

Really quite long and warming on the finish. It remains sweet throughout the mouth with lingering warmth, but minimal spice. I found a fairly strong vanilla note rolling in after a few seconds as well. Give it some time and there’s some bitter oak towards the end – call it pencil shavings or dusty, high cacao dark chocolate if you will.

With such an enticing nose and clean tasting palate, to me, this comes across as a really clean sherry cask. I didn’t come across any off-putting notes of rubber or sulphur what-so-ever.

When, where and how much?

The remaining bottles (and there aren’t many of them!) are available now, exclusively through Baranow’s Lounge in Melbourne at an RRP of AU$299. See here for more information.

The bottle reviewed was purchased by The Whisky Ledger.

Nicks Wine Merchants

Searching for whisky in Melbourne, Australia

On a recent trip to Melbourne, I finally made the short trek to a store that I’ve visited hundreds of times online – Nicks Wine Merchants.

You’ll find Nicks in Doncaster, around 19km (11 miles) east of Melbourne’s CBD in the same shop they’ve been in for over 50 years. Walk through the doors and it’s pretty hard to not get a little bit excited with this sight.

Nicks selection 1

Way better than browsing online! I’m pretty sure I stood there for a good 5 minutes with my mouth slightly agape.

Nicks selection

These photos probably show a third of what they had on their shelves – everything from Glenfiddich 12 year old to Highland Park 40 year old, Jim Beam white label to George T Stagg and hundreds of bottles in between.

They even have a really well-stocked tasting counter where they’ll happily let you try before you buy – and not just core range bottles either!

Nicks - tasting

Hang on a sec, what’s that Ardbeg lurking in the corner?

Nicks - Alligator lurking

That’s right, they even had a bottle of Ardbeg Alligator available to taste! It’s not every day someone offers you a free taste of Alligator.

Nicks - Ardbeg

I didn’t take down any tasting notes, but yes, it was a pretty nice one.  Would I pay current collector prices for a bottle though? No – as I’d want to open it and drink it and just don’t think I’d get three times the enjoyment of a lesser-priced Ardbeg… In saying that, it was pretty special drop and it would be a rather nice feeling to have one of these in your cabinet!

The staff at Nicks were genuinely knowledgeable about whisky (and all of the products they stock). We ended up talking about Glenmorangie Ealanta and The Whisky Bible phenomenon (Ealanta sat on shelves for a good six months in Australia before seemingly selling out over night following the whisky of the year announcement).

I hadn’t actually tried it, but they soon sorted that one out for me, kindly finding an open bottle out the back.

Nicks - Ealanta

Quite unlike any other Scotch whisky I’ve tried before – heavy on the bourbon notes and spice, but still unmistakably Glenmorangie. The small quantity of this that landed in Australia should have sold-out on taste alone – really quite enjoyable. Before you bombard their website – like everyone else, they’re sold out.

A big thanks to the friendly and knowledgeable staff for their time and for the good whisky banter. If you live in Melbourne – or you’re just passing through – Nicks is well worth a visit for any whisky or spirits fan.