By Richard Thomas
New Zealand Whisky Company is presently engaged in bottling the stock from what had been the country’s sole whisky distillery, Willowbank. This rather aged example is a blend drawing on a most unusual cask profile. 70% malt and 30% grain whisky, it was aged in ex-bourbon barrels for six years before being transferred to French oak-made, New Zealand red wine casks for a further 12 years. It’s unusual for a “finishing,” or secondary maturation, to last as long as the primary stage. This is to say nothing of twice as long as the primary stage!
The liquid had a light copper appearance in my glass, and the coat really ran with the tears. The nose was mainly fruity, with a hunk of woodiness and a touch of spice.
The fruitness declared itself as apples on the palate, which had a light, watery texture and carried some modest notes of smokiness and pepper. The finish was a smoky one, but faded very fast.
My feeling on this one is that what held it back across the board was how light the whisky was, and by light I do not mean delicate.
I’ve seen it listed with retailers for $85 a bottle, that being for a half-sized, 375 ml bottle.