When it comes to sport, the Australians know what they’re doing. They have a brilliant mix of work ethic, skill, drive and sheer determination that puts the fear into any other team facing them. However, it’s not just the sportsmen we should be in awe of: Their whisky makers are rapidly becoming a rather talented and successful lot.
“Now they’re just showing off”, I hear you cry. “Not only do they have the weather, beaches, wildlife and sports teams… But they now have good whisky too?!”
I have to admit that even I, Mr Sceptical was…. Well sceptical about it at first. But when I met Neil and Joel (the two likely lads from Caskstrength) for the first time back at Whisky Live; Australian whisky was the first drop they poured me at their masterclass. Overeem whisky to be precise, and I haven’t looked back since.
You can imagine how happy I was to hear from them 3 months later inviting me to a tasting of the whole Overeem range that they were hosting in London – quickly becoming two of my favourite people. Yes I’m that easy. A great evening was had tasting this delicious liquid and I was truly converted to the full range.
The final chapter to this story however, came just 4 weeks ago when Neil asked me to whip together some tasting notes for an Overeem competition over at Master of Malt. The snazziest, most eccentric (and hopefully fitting) notes for the 43% sherry bottling would win a wonderful prize – the chance to help pick a new bourbon matured expression. Having tried a previous bourbon matured Overeem at the tasting (only bottle in the Northern Hemisphere by the way), this was pretty exciting stuff. I didn’t win first prize, but did come runner up with the good man that is Ben Cops, winning us each a bottle of the sherried expression! You can read our runner up posts along with the victors here.
Overeem New make (68% – I think)
Nose: Sweet, pure, powerful, berries and some sourness.
Palate: Pretty heavy on the tongue, but light in character. Slight sourness still there. Fizzy and sherbet-y like old skool fizzy sweets.
(Using Australian “port”)
Nose: Even more vibrant, juicy and full. Slightly dusty too. Spices hiding but start to crash around.
Palate: Good port notes, some berries, woodiness, sweet and slightly gloppy. Cherries and blackcurrant.
Finish: Dryer with a nice build up of spice and sweetness.
Comments: This had a nice delivery, with well balanced sweetness. I was expecting slightly more fruits though.
(I tried this one at WL, let’s so how I do on second tasting)
Nose: Wow, how can this be 60%?! It’s delicate and so easy to nose. Woody and sweet with some soft tropical fruits. Incredibly moorish.
Palate: Dusty and sweet, with sherry at the forefront. Chocolate covered raspberries. Robust woody spices, fizzy like refreshers (mmm) and a hint of ash.
Finish: Nutmeg, cinnamon, slightly nutty and woody. Less sweet, but with a lingering dryness. Spices lead the way.
Comments: For me, this was the star of the show. It wasn’t trying to show off and the smoothness balanced with the complexity of flavours really kept me on edge. Would never believe this was 60%.
Nose: Again, how is this 60%?! Fantastic nose with a beautiful blend of dark fruits, light sweetness and dusty/musky tones. Slight yeasty note too with some dark chocolate. I could nose this for hours.
Palate: Glides down the tongue with a silky texture, feeling more like 48%. Heavier sweetness than on nose, slightly drying with wood spice and berries.
Finish: Long and not too dry. Smooth, velvety and simply glam.
Comments: This had you coming back for more and I spent quite a while on it. It’s mixture of drinkability and complexity made for interesting note taking!
(Ex heaven hill casks. We tried the only bottle in northern hemisphere)
Nose: Delicate and very rounded. Lots of fruits: apple peel and tropical fruits that got bigger and bigger. Grassy notes too.
Palate: Quite light compared to the sherried/port expressions. Slightly spicy, but hidden under a bed of fruit and hay. Some ripe apples and pears.
Finish: Short, but leaves the mouth fresh and happy.
Comments: Complex again, with a number of flavours hiding behind corners. Not my favourite of the bunch, but drinkable and tasty (like the rest of the range to be honest). The 60% is now due to be released.
And finally, my
completely over the top and slightly tongue in cheek mammoth notes for the competition:
Overeem Sherry Cask (43%)
As I sit in my favourite armchair on a warm September evening, with John Coltrane providing a certain serenity to the room, I’m enticed by this deep amber nectar of the gods. Much like a Mahler symphony, I don’t know what to expect; utter beauty or simple confusion. I’m welcomed to the glass like a long lost friend, with the first sniff embracing my nostrils like a warm hug. At first, this beast from down under seems rather vibrant in the glass. However, it’s deceptively smooth and rounded, with whiffs of fresh wood and sweet tropical fruits smothered in dark chocolate, reminiscent of old sweets my Nan would hide in her purse. A sudden rush of fruit; especially sticky cherries, banana and plums before the delicate spices start weaving their way through my nostrils, with cinnamon and orange zest clamouring to also get a nod. This is all followed by a wave of nostalgia – chocolate covered raisins. All the while, the light dusting of sweet sherry sneaks in round the back to drive this nose forward. With a dash of water, a sweet note of vanilla interplays with a gentle grassy-ness.
I find myself desperate to delve into the deep layers of flavour found in this beautiful liquid. An abundance of Sunday stewed fruit crumble with vanilla custard attacks my taste buds before a sudden onslaught of liquorice, raisins and cereal notes appear. A real sweetness you get from demerara sugar or fresh icing sugar on a warm sponge cake is present too. Robust woody spices continue to build with each sip, and frolic on the tongue with a particular dustiness leaving a slight chilli note. Chocolate covered raspberries this time, whilst the sherry now takes a leading role. My favourite note? The fizzy refreshers and slight hint of ash.
John Coltrane is playing his final number of his ‘Live in Paris’ album. His sweet melodies in “Impressions” leaves me feeling somewhat melancholic, whilst the whisky lingers leaving warm spices, orange infused chocolate, vanilla, and Werthers Originals. Somewhat nutty, with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg from the spice rack and a residual dryness also. There is no hiding it, there has been some quality interaction between wood and spirit here. This is not only strongly robust, but is a vibrant, exciting and alluring dram that glides round your mouth delightfully like velvet. I think it was Santana and Rob Thomas that once sung about this whisky: “Oh you’re so smooth…” When I think about it, this wonderful whisky is much like Mahler’s famous 5th symphony. It is utterly beautiful, starting with a tender movement which elegantly continues to build into a triumphant masterpiece. Complex and fulfilling. It is said that Mahler wrote it as a love song to his wife, with a poem attached: “How much I love you, I cannot tell you that with words. I can only lament to you my longing and love”. My sentiment exactly for this Tasmanian Devil.
Thanks once again goes to Neil and Joel from Caskstrength.net – look out for their new book, they know what they’re talking about!