Cascade Brewery, founded on the Cascade streams in Hobart in the 1850s, is an Australian institution. It is the only brewery that continues to malt its own barley and it is here that Sullivans Cove whisky begins life.
Roger Ibbott has been in charge of malting at Cascade for more than 40 years. Once a year he travels the island inspecting crops to select only the finest Franklin barley for his malting floor. It is thanks to his hard work and artisanal attention to detail that our single malt is of the highest quality in the world.
Once malted, Cascade’s head brewer, Richard Badcock, uses pure water and a unique recipe created specially for Sullivans Cove to brew the wash (which is basically a rudimentary beer) that will later be distilled to make our fine whisky.
This is where the real magic happens. The wash arrives at our distillery at about 7.5%ABV, ready to become single malt. Using a double distillation method in our traditional copper pot still, the resulting spirit reaches an ABV of about 73% – by which time, the spirit has taken on a beautiful malty sweetness, perfect for barreling.
The trick is to cut the run short, so that only the sweetest flavours and purest alcohol from the heart of the run is captured – not the most sensible approach by an accountant’s standards (but then we’re not accountants!).
This is one of the most crucial steps in the process. After all of the work that has gone in to growing, malting, brewing and distilling the barley, the spirit is diluted to 63.4% for barrelling and is then at the mercy of the barrel for the next 10 or more years of its life.
It is from this barrel that the whisky gets its colour and much of its flavour, and it is in this barrel that the whisky slowly settles, rounds and develops the complexities that will later play on your nose and tongue, delighting your senses as you savour one of nature’s true wonders.
This is without a doubt the worst part of the job! Every once in a while we collect samples from a number of barrels, tasting them to gauge the barrel’s progress. As you can imagine, this step is crucial in ensuring that each barrel goes on to be bottled at its peak.
Master craftsmanship is at the centre of everything we do, and it is most evident at this stage of the process. When a barrel is ready to be bottled its strength can be more than 70%ABV. This has to be watered down to bottling strength – in our case, 40% and 47.5%. When water is added, the liquid tends to go cloudy as the alcohol and water bond. If left alone, the whisky will naturally settle and clear over a period of two to four months. However – to meet consumer demand – many whisky producers will, at this point, use chill filtration to clear the liquid rapidly. Chill filtration strips many of the natural oils, colours and glycerine out of the liquid, leaving a harsh, thin mouth feel and meaning that colouring needs to be added back into the whisky.
At Sullivans Cove, our insistence on traditional process and world-class product means we take a different approach. We aren’t in any rush (what’s another four months when the whisky has just spent 12 years reaching its peak in a barrel?). We allow our whisky to take its time and settle naturally, retaining all it’s inherent colour, flavour and viscosity.
This commitment to quality is why our whisky tastes so full, round and smooth – and why we are proud to bring you true single malt!
Our bottling regimen is the final step in the process. Each barrel is unique and therefore imparts unique flavours to the whisky. We want to capture that individuality and so every cask is bottled and labelled separately. This means that each barrel is captured in a limited edition – never to be repeated.
To ensure that your bottle of whisky is perfect, each and every one is carefully filled, by hand, using a single bottle filler and then labeled and capped, by hand, one at a time. And, finally, each bottle is hand-polished.
Our process requires great effort and time on our part, and we are committed to every stage. All we ask of you is that you appreciate what’s gone into creating this masterpiece – by enjoying this whisky to its fullest.
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