I was going to write an article about this young distillery from Burnie, Tasmania, but Master of Malt have already done an excellent job. So just a recap required before a tasting session:
- 1997 Opened by ‘Betta Milk’, the biggest dairy producer in Tasmania – yikes!
- 1999 Spirit officially flows from a pair of stills.
- Hellyers Road is the largest distillery in Australian & Tasmania
- The distillery name is a tribute to English-born officer, explorer, surveyor & architect Henry Hellyer who helped build the now-road to Hellyers.
- Annual capacity of 100,000 lpa.
- The distiller Mark Littler can control the state of the art distillery equipment from home.
- The Cascade Brewery provide the malted beer for distillation.
- Aside from their ‘Original’ bourbon -matured whisky, peat from Inverness allows Hellyers to make a peated spirit, matured in French oak & Australian port casks. Theres also a Pino Noir finish too.
Though there is also an ‘Original’ 10 & a 12yo, reliable internet info would suggest this NAS version is around 6yo.
- N: Strange fruity plastic-clingfilm, plasticine/fimo and food-wrapped plastic, but mainly its silicone. Doesn’t improve too much but there is a little vanilla & banana showing over time.
- T: Curious fruits, then soapy/spirity before bitter grapefruit. Later theres a firm puttiness and a touch of vanilla with some mouthfeel. A strange plastic/oiliness resides.
- F: Not a great deal, mainly a slight cocoa spirit with time & water.
- C: Not convincing.
‘Original’ Day 2
- N: Somewhat better today, but we continue clutching at straws. Still there remains that funny/weird/different fruity putty profile – so we are talking of a heavy porridgy spirit, moderately sugary. Serge’s beer & papaya notes are once again, spot on.
- T: Plastic-y/plasticine arrival with a fairly persistent spirity/soapy-shampoo note at the heart, though eventually with a light-sweet honeyed barley thread. Some water brings plastic-y-candied sweeties, albeit rather chemical.
- F: Medium-short finish on fruity-light honeyed-barley with that lingering soapy-shampoo note. More recognisably a rounded whisky towards the end that settles with sweetish vanilla, Feast bar and banana.
- C: Today theres some promise in the finish, but still no score.
Hellyers Road Pino Noir [2016/17] Ob. 46.2% WB0
- N: Similar silicone vibe to the ‘Original’ but with a heavy pong, i guess from the Pino. Also a little gooseberry fruits, rosehip and apricot=Seville oranges for example, but those plastics are disturbing. Much better with time as a fruity [pineapple cubes] light distillate creeps on through.
- T: Im really trying here. I get waxy-vanilla chocolate,.. fruity somethings,…erm,.. but the arrival is of soapy pineapples & banana candy turning to putty/clay.
- F: Moves to plastic-y>waxy-ish vanilla chocolate with a malolactic edge. Surprisingly long finish earns it some points.
- C: On another positive note, there seems to be a distillery character emerging – though not one im getting too fond of. This is [surprisingly, given its a Pino finish], a touch better than the Original and just scrapes onto the boards.
Scores 76 points
‘Pino Noir finish’ Day 2
- N: Today the family resemblance to the ‘original’ is even more profound, the Pino finish bringing a richer/rounder sweetness and further highlighting the strange plastic-y, fruity<porridgy-putty pong, a touch of bicycle inner-tube, vegetable stew,… As time allows, the porridgy nature from the spirit comes through more prominently with a little vanilla and funky fruits & salted veg – lets say rhubarb & courgettes with a salty/vinegar-y ragu, and something of an Irish fruitiness emerging from the putty.
- T: Quite prickly today, really wants water. The funny putty-fruity pong from the nose greets the palate too but the spirity/soapy issues are largely covered, no doubt predominantly by the cask finishing. The arrival & then middle [like the ‘Original’] is the weakest link between the curious/ok nose and the fairer finish.
- F: Rather acceptable finish on honeyed putty-porridge, sweet liquorice and pineapple, vanilla & banana – much like its more neutral sibling.
- C: The Pino influence seems more pronounced & favourable today. I didnt give that finishing much hope but fair dues, its worked alright for this Tasmanian spirit.
Scores 76 points
- N: The peat [as it often does] has brought out the flavour quality of the barley, some ink (Serge), green olives, some odd crisp flavour – Hedgehog? Time brings an Ardbegian quality, albeit with soapy chocolate.
- T: Plastic-y Ardbeg with a funny ashy-briney-plastic developing.
- F: Peat brings the barley forth again, with ashy-lemony Earl Grey tea, waxy plastic and ashy milk of Magnesia to conclude.
- C: This works, just – the peat promoting the barley & balancing the spirit much as it does for the Annandale peated spirit over its non-peated counterpart. This Hellyers expression is certainly passable but still rather odd.
Scores 77 points
- N: The peat makes a great attempt to iron out those strange porridgy-pongy edges. but the quirky family traits emerge soon enough. Time brings out more of the vanilla than either of the other two expressions.
- T: Good job again from the phenols, but they cant quite disguise that inherent spirity/soapiness and a citric sharpness. Serge: ‘ink’ – maybe a little squid ink for me. Things improve in the second half into the finish.
- F: The finish was the strongest part of both the ‘Original’ and the Pino Noir finish, and there is no exception here either. This has more on that chocolate and candied-banana, the peat: ashy>sooty>vegetal in character with a touch of long-gone creosote-treated fence panels alongside scorched chestnuts. Also, more veg stew [like the Pino on the N:] at the death – here more of a Ratatouille than a ragu base.
- C: A tad better than the Pino, but one that still never escapes the soapiness.
Scores 77 points