The Aussie Ghost – Great Outback Rare Old Australian Whisky

I admit it, I missed last week. Multiple articles I’m working on, securing a flight back to Australia, figuring out the future and many other things compounded and I took a night off, but I feel like that can be forgiven. Plus I don’t earn anything from this, so a week off is fine, but that left me wondering what I would look at this week. Thanks to an article about ghost distilleries I’m working on and the hope that I’ll be heading back to Australia soon I was struck by an idea, so for this World Whisky Wednesday I’m looking at an Australian ghost, the Great Outback Whisky.

It’s always exciting talking to folk about ghost distilleries. Hammerhead from the Czech Republic, Watt’s Distillery in Ireland, and then Scotland with… all of them really, Rosebank, Port Ellen, Dallas Dhu, Brora, Hanyu in Japan, they hold this mythical status in the community (some more than others). Hearing stories about them, how they were founded, how they fell, it’s a great chat to have so Australia having their own ghost is fantastic and a great thing to bring up. The main problem however is that while books have been written about Scottish whisky, Japanese whisky and Irish whiskey as for countries such as Australia and the Czech Republic we have less to go on. So we have to dig out information, and that is easier said than done.

Information on the Great Outback whisky is hard to come-by (putting it politely). Years ago I called about the Aussie whisky industry and spoke with a few figures, the general consensus down the phone being a laugh and the assurance that no one knows where this comes from. Supposedly the whisky was distilled between 1960 and 2000 in Western Australia, New South Wales or Tasmania. For those unfamiliar with Australia geography, that’s roughly 3.5 million square kilometres. Yay. So where was it distilled?

Apparently it was bottled by a Sydney based company called Cawsey Menck that traded as the Tasman Distillery even though they were only a bottler, not a producer. You can find their website though they only supply to the trade. So where did the liquid come from? Corio distillery popped up, which would have been amazing, Raymond B was a curious name that arose, there were rumours it was old Sullivan’s Cove stock and then the more interesting story that it came from an experimental batch of whisky produced in Griffith by some Italian winemakers. Oh, and it may or may not have been stored in steel drums at one point in time so there is the chance that Brian Poke may have rectified the spirit (Brian Poke being of Darwin/Franklin Distillery and Cradle Mountain fame).

Most likely it seems that Cawsey Menck purchased whisky from…. someone, and after an unspecified amount of time the whisky was bottled. The bottle refers to being ‘Distilled in Tasmania’, but given that it seems that Sullivan’s Cove was not involved perhaps that is a reference to Brian Poke? What we can ASSUME is that the whisky was matured in an American Oak cask, although this comes from the taste of the whisky itself and nothing more. I would urge anyone to search for answer, purely for the sake of discovering the story behind the bottle. Anyway, what’s it taste like?

It’s…. different. The nose a bit of a ghost, white, castor, brown sugar all falling about before orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and some star anise drift past on a small wind. It’s not thick, it’s not light, it’s middle of the ground but it’s intriguing. There’s pepper and thyme in there, and then the fruits start to show just a bit, banana and pineapple before vanilla and honey coming through. It’s just a bit short, wafting away as though the whisky is searching for its own origins.

On the palate it starts to come alive, the sugars all get a bit of a groove on and make their way towards the vanilla, picking up a hint of cherry along the way. They must have struck something cause there’s some smoke coming through too, not enough for this to be peated by maybe some singed malt? And there’s this great backing of mint, first artificial and then natural that builds the whisky quite well. I am wondering if it’s all barley, there’s this spicy undercurrent that makes me wonder if there was some rye in there and then it just gets quite sweet again.

And then the finish comes and goes, fair dinkum smooth and a touch smoky but unfortunately just gone.

I have never figured out where I sit with this whisky. Every now and then a bottle makes its way onto auctions and I try to purchase the bottle only to be outbid, but given the frequency that a bottle appears I can’t help but think that someone out there is trying to turn a profit on the bottle. That seems pretty idiotic to be honest, there’s no name behind the whisky, only mysteries and it should be shared along with its…. Interesting story.

Would I buy a bottle? I mean if I could afford it, yes, but Nicks in Australia are selling it at $400 a bottle, auctions seem to spike in price and I just don’t have income. It does crop up in the weirdest of places though, I found a bottle on an online Polish whisky shop once but it was in a different style of bottle with a Grolsch style swing cap which only raised further questions. Yes, I would buy a bottle, and I urge anyone who can to buy a bottle and just see what mysteries it presents to you. Maybe I’ll figure it out when I get to Australia, likely not. Sometimes it’s nice to have mystery whiskies, sip them and wonder who made you and why?

Just like that.

If you would like to learn more about The Great Outback Rare Old Australian Whisky then…. I guess good luck?

This review is not sponsored or endorsed by any distillery, whisky, ghost, ghost distillery or whisky, The Great Outback Rare Old Australian Whisky, Cawsey Menck or otherwise, and is entirely the words of the author Somewhiskybloke.

If you enjoyed reading this, why not give me a follow on Twitter at @Somewhiskybloke? There you can stay up to date with what I’m drinking and what news I’m ignoring while trapped in the wonderful whisky bubble.

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