A distillery at the mouth of Australia’s largest river system is ramping up production as demand skyrockets.
Fleurieu Distillery in Goolwa, South Australia, has just launched its third single malt whisky in less than 12 months. The first whisky, released just before Christmas last year, sold out of its 600 bottles within weeks, as did the second release, which launched in April.
The 55 per cent alc/vol latest release is known as Whisky Kisses and takes the name from the distillery’s 12-hectolitre copper still. The 600-bottle batch is being sold at AU$198 for a 700ml bottle and will be shipped from October 18. However, the distillery is already being flooded with orders, casting doubt as to whether stocks will last until Christmas.
Head Distiller Gareth Andrews said a loyal band of buyers, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne had led to a surge in early orders.
“Everything’s just flying out the door – the emails have just been going off,” he said.
“We’ve now got a dedicated customer base who basically buy a few bottles of everything we do and that is expanding so it’s hard to tell where we are going to end up.”
“Depending on how fast this one goes will depend on whether we release the next one before Christmas or after.
“I’m preferring after just to give it a little more of that summer weather but it’s all in the hands of the gods.
Fleurieu Distillery is about 80km south of Adelaide and just feet from the River Murray on Goolwa Wharf, less than 3km from where Australia’s longest river meets the Southern Ocean.
Andrews said the “maritime” conditions at Goolwa were ideal for maturing whisky because of its fresh sea breezes, fluctuating temperature range and mild summers.
All matured in port barrels, the distillery’s first whisky release was unpeated, the second peated and the third “about half way in between”, according to Andrews.
“It’s just got a hint of smoke in the end,” he said.
Whisky Kisses is a blend of four 100-litre barrels and has typical port-barrel characteristics such as a burnt amber colour carrying forward a nose of raisins, vanilla and toffee apple. The distillery believes this third release captures its signature style of salted caramel, biscuit and toasted nuts with a wisp of peat.
“What we’re trying to do is have a family resemblance – a particular flavour that is the Fleurieu Distillery so rather than individually releasing barrels, we take several single malt whisky barrels of ours and blend them into a bigger batch,” Andrews said.
A new 36-hectolitre still is expected to arrive early next year to allow production to be ramped up considerably.
The distillery on Goolwa Wharf opened as one of South Australia’s first craft breweries, The Steam Exchange, in 2004 before being rebadged Fleurieu Distillery last year.
It still sells its own beer and gin at the cellar door but has outsourced its beer production to Lobethal Bierhaus in the Adelaide Hills so Gareth and the team can focus on making whisky.
“Unfortunately there’s only 30 hours in a day and 10 days in a week so can only do what we do,” Andrews said.
“We are just so flat out making whisky that I’ve had to give Alistair (Turnbull) at Lobethal all of our recipes so he can look after that for us.”