Australian whisky is weird. There’s no real way to put it aside from that. It’s amazing in flavour, variety, variety of the consistency, and has a STAGGERINGLY large amount of distilleries, more than Scotland. For all that though the distilleries are for the most part incredibly small, some of them essentially Blokes and Sheila’s distilling in tin sheds doing what they do best, making and drinking damn good whisky. That’s what we’re looking at today by the way, an amazing producer that makes amazingly small batch whisky.
This World Whisky Wednesday we’re looking at the Timboon Port Whisky Expression.
It’s a far cry from the fancy British distilleries, with their centuries of history, paintings of Glens filled with crafty illicit distillers and old boys in tweed, but you’ve got distilleries dotted all over the Aussie landscape. If you find yourself in Australia staring at the Twelve Apostles (now just several but that’s the passage of time for you) someday then you’re straight next to one of those distilleries. Take the beaten track sixteen clicks inland and you’ll find Timboon Railway Shed Distillery.
Taking its name from the former Timboon railway line (we are the same people who named a place Townsville) how Timboon came about is going from A to Z. It starts with Tim Marwood and Caroline Simmons in 1999 and their Timboon Fine Ice Cream, reported started after Tim’s fury at the price he was paying for milk. A 3rd generation dairy farmer, Tim knows his stuff but wanted to get away from selling ice cream the year round. Obviously the answer was to branch into distillation and liqueurs, so in 2007 Timboon Distillery was born for year round sales of the dairy products through their liqueurs line (all jokes aside it’s some seriously good stuff).
The distillery would be sold to Josh Walker in 2015. A Timboon local, Josh grew into his distiller role by travelling the world and discovering the wonders that whisky held before his purchase of the distillery, focusing on quality over quantity whisky with a team that includes Josh’s family. Oh, and during the Covid-19 pandemic (which thanks to speedy action has had much less effect on Australia than on the rest of the world) they did what any decent folk would do, they made hand sanitiser. Class act.
So what goes into their little operation? A Tassie made 600L still, their wash comes from Otway Estate Microbrewery, just 60 clicks east. After distillation Timboon use a variety of Port casks from through Victoria, Rutherglen and Tasmania, though at the start of this year 2020 their first estate crop was planted alongside the installation of a larger still, and with their very own cooperage founded.
Hopefully this means that in the future folk from all through the world will be able to get their hands on a bottle of that rich velvet spirit, not just lonely Australians screaming into the void of whisky. One can dream.
One can also taste, and as much as I’d love to give Timboon a pass on story and class alone all whiskies must be tasted before we can call them good. Let’s dive in.
Straight off the nose it’s fruit cakes lathered in vanilla icing and honey, some orange marmalade joining the party as they all lie down in the summer sun and get properly boisterous in their loud flavour. A little rain of orange and lime rind comes down before the flavours jump into the sea and catch vanilla syrup waves riding eucalyptus surfboards, washing up onto a beach of nectarine boulders, bubble gum and blackberries. It’s fruity, it’s flavourful, and it’s good.
As we dive into the palate it gets all peppery, jumping stone fruits and cocoa powder. Spicy notes follow until we hit a wash of Ribena and vanilla coming together in what defies belief to be a fantastic pairing. Everything is laced with touches of honey and fruit, particularly present is the blackberries, peaches, banana and some crumbled mint chocolate, think Aero peppermint. There’s a touch of a tart backing there that adds a base to everything as well, the eucalyptus mingling with the pepper for a foundation for the rest of the flavours to rock on.
It all wraps up tight in the finish, it’s not the longest but what it lacks in distance it makes up for in intensity with the fruits we’ve grown to love, bananas, green apples, plums and peaches all lounging about a pool of berry juice. Take me home Timboon.
If you didn’t catch it I’m a huge fan of this whisky. The size of the distillery is disappointing, purely from the fact that it’s near impossible to source in the UK unless you dig through all whisky auctions and sales going on at the moment, but hopefully their larger still and an increased interest can rectify that fact.
So, do I think it’s good? Yes, and I would gladly purchase a bottle again, even though it is on the pricier side. That’s the cost you pay for micro micro whisky though, and by supporting distilleries like this than in the future there might be enough to go around, I couldn’t recommend it more.
And based on it’s eccentric flavours, it’s jumpy tune the whisky plays, the sheer fun that comes with it and the fact it’s December and we are allowed to listen to Christmas tunes one song stands out amongst them all.
It just fits.
This review is not sponsored or endorsed by any distillery, Timboon or otherwise, and is entirely the words of the author Somewhiskybloke.