I have been a member of the Whiskey Co-op at the Wild Rover since it first opened. When it first started you were given a card with a very long list of whiskies & whiskeys to get through. Once you got through them all you earned the right to drink from the special cabinet at cost. I have earned this right (with proof!) but since the latest re-invention of the Co-op I’ve found that I’ve always needed to explain my whisky life story. (There’s a fancier booklet now with pictures to go with the list!)
Being a member of the Co-op also comes with the privilege of a whisky tasting once a month, usually on a Monday as well as invitations and discounts to special events. Last Monday we were lucky enough to attend a tasting hosted by Scotty from the Oak Barrell, where he picked his favourites for us to try.
The First Whiskey was the Starward Two-Fold 40%, a nice little blended whiskey that comes in at under $100 and is Australia’s version of mass market whiskey. It’s made of blended wheat (NSW) and barley (from VIC) and is aged in red wine casks from SA. Starward was one of the first few whiskeys I sampled at one of the first co-op tastings and they were still perfecting their whiskey in red wine. I remember having one of their test drams and I hated it! To this day I’m not really into red wine cask whisky so this was a pleasant surprise. It was sweet, like the caramel kind of sweet and you could keep drinking this all day. (Someday I might)
The Second Whisky was the Tamnavulin Double Cask 40%. Made from what used to be an independent distillery that was shut in the 80s and was re-opened in 2007. (Scott includes history and gossip in his tastings) . This was their first single malt, first kept in bourbon barrels then finished in sherry casks. It was like drinking a really dry Shiraz without the wine taste, if that makes sense. It felt young and very light.
The Third Whiskey was the Westward Single Malt (46%). They made a single malt in the US! It’s distilled in Portland, Oregon in Virgin American Oak casks. To me it tasted like the kind of coffee bean that comes out a little sour in your coffee. There was some mention of possible exposure to brewer’s yeast because all the people that make whiskey there are ex-craft brewers and they use ex breweries. In the end it didn’t suck, but it’s not my thing.
The Fourth Whisky was the Glendronach 12 year at 43%, seasoned in a sherry cask. It pretty much tasted like the kind of whisky I would drink everyday. Scott seemed to love it but for me it was pretty standard and I could keep drinking it but it didn’t taste special.
The Fifth Whisky was my favourite of the six. The Kilkerrn 12 year at 46% is made in Campbelltown. It’s relatively young, as it was re-opened in 2004 so you can’t get much older than that. Campbelltown is a newish district of whisky - they had to open more distilleries so it could be declared a district - and while it has no train or ferry, you can land a space station there because it used to have an American army base and it was set up to be an emergency space station landing location. The whisky itself is very unassuming, smooth and easily drinkable.
The Sixth and last Whisky was the Hand in Hand Armore 2008 at 56.1%. I liked this one too, I’m used to having heavier whiskies like this one. It was dark and earthy and tasted very peaty.
If you’d like to give the Whiskey Coop a go, check out them out here. I’ve had so many wonderful whiskies/eys and learnt so much about whisky and the distilling process from attending their many tastings. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to whisky or if you’re a connoisseur, tastings are always fun, informative and the whisky always tastes good.