Monday 14 September 2020

Tasted #489: Chief's Son The Tanist

When I received a note on a new release from the Chief’s Son distillery based in Mornington Peninsula; an area south-east of Melbourne - I jumped at the occasion. Partly due to the fact that I wanted to find out more about the distillery. Aptly named after the Scottish Gaelic expression of Mhic an Tòisich which means 'Son of the Chief,' the distillery was named after the surname of Chief's Son Distillery's founders Stuart and Naomi's McIntosh.

When Stuart and Naomi founded the distillery in 2013, they wanted to build on their story of chance, risk and passion and history, love and family. Stuart and Naomi have wanted to build on the honour that was awarded to their family 900 years ago for their ongoing loyalty to the Chiefs of Alba (Kings of Scotland). After three years of test bed success, the first commercial batch of single malt whisky was distilled at the current Somerville location.

The McIntosh are passionate about loyalty, the intergenerational, the meaning of their name and the passing of the love of whisky from generation to generation.

At the heart of their whisky making story is their single electric powered 4,000 litre copper open neck pot still. This pot still can be seen standing tall behind Stuart and Naomi in the photo above. Not only is having an electric powered still a unique arrangement, but their positioning of the lyne arm is also interesting. The lyne arm that connects the head of the still to the condensing system is downward facing. This generally results in less reflux and encourages carryover where more of the heavy oils flow down towards the condenser. A larger proportion of the oils, flavours and aromas flow into the final spirit, helping to create a heavier but more nutty spirit - creating their unique style.

Chief's Son uses a range of malt across their core range including peated malt, darker specialty malt (chocolate malt) in addition to the base distillers' malt. Their core range series include three different styles with the '900 Standard' imparting a mix between base and specialty malt (including a small percentage of peated malt), the ‘900 Pure Malt’ switches out the peat for darker specialty malt and their ‘900 Sweet Peat‘, leverages a higher percentage of their peated malt. Maturation of their whiskies is done through the use of ex-fortified wine French oak barrels.

But we are here for Chief's Son new release, the Tanist. Stuart and Naomi wanted to introduce the Tanist into their core range to create a whisky with a broad taste profile and at a reasonable price point. Stuart wanted a whisky that has a soft, approachable, big and balanced flavours. One that has less of the rich, robust characteristics of their core and specialty range. The Tanist is formed through the use of combination of whiskies that have been matured in both ex-fortified French oak barrels and American oak ex-bourbon barrels. The Tanist is a double wooded whisky that uses a mash bill composed of of their specialty pale malt and a bit of their peated malt. Bottled at 43% ABV and sold at $115, it is a rather attractive proposition for an Australian whisky.

So how does the Tanist fare:

Chief's Son The Tanist (43% ABV, NAS, Mornington Peninsula, Australia, A$115)

Colour: Amber/Copper

Nose: The nose is fragrant, floral and riddled with apple stew, a mix of toffee, vanilla, sweet honey, lemon custard and some burnt orange and cinnamon.

Palate: The palate is soft and floral. Orange cake and honey are quite prominent followed by a mix of spices; cloves, cinnamon, black pepper and toffee.

Finish: The finish is relatively long with caramelised toffee flavour and lots of tannins.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100. This is a rather welcoming whisky that you can come back to as an everyday dram, it’s flavour packed yet does not hit you with any extremities. It does remind me of Starward’s Two Fold and their broad based flavour profile. I will do a comparison with their 900 Pure Malt and 900 Standard as well in a separate post to see if the Tanist does contrast from Chief’s Son punchier core range.

The Tanist is now available from the Chief’s Son Distillery door, online on their web store and through selected retailers.


Thanks to Chief's Son for providing the sample.

Thursday 10 September 2020

Black Tot Rum on Black Tot Day (Tasted #488)

It was a dark day for many on 31st July 1970, when 200 years of tradition came to an end as the last daily rum ration (or "daily tot") was handed out to British Royal Naval sailors. In time however, the day has grown to become a celebration of all things rum, and big things were planned this year, when 31st July 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of the day known as "Black Tot Day".

In Hong Kong, the day was to be celebrated in a big way with Timeless & Tasty (official distributors of Black Tot Rum) at the newly-opened Central rum bar The Daily Tot, but unfortunately a third wave of COVID-19 put an end to those plans. Luckily, Black Tot Rum had an alternative, in the form of an epic, non-stop 24 hour online rum festival, featuring rum ambassadors, independent bottlers, formal naval officers and even Sukhinder Singh

To prepare for the event, Timeless & Tasty offered this pack containing component rums from Barbados, Guyana & Jamaica, along with a sample of Black Tot Rum, a blended Caribbean rum from The Whisky Exchange.

"But this is a whisky blog, Martin!" you may be thinking, and you'd be right....but I've never been averse to the odd "malternative" brown spirit being featured occasionally, especially when that brown spirit is rum. Personally, I find rum a delicious spirit, fascinatingly varied, and a category which (thanks to efforts like The Whisky Exchange's focus on categorisation) will likely start to gain the legitimacy and respect already commanded by other categories (e.g. whisky) in the years to come.

The aforementioned pack from Timeless & Tasty was a great way to delve into some rum geekery and explore the different styles and regions which make up the category, especially when enjoyed alongside the following online session (as part of the 24 hour online celebration), conveniently held at 7pm HKT!

with Global Rum Ambassadors - Miguel Smith (Mount Gay), Christelle Harris (Hampden Estate), Daniyel Jones (Angostura), & Benjamin Boothe (Tamosi)

The hour-long session involved an overview of  Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica (from where the rums within Black Tot originated), insights into what makes their spirit production / style unique, thoughts on the future of rum, and for those lucky enough to have the corresponding sample pack, a tasting!

My favourite of the components was Barbados, followed by one of the Guyanan rums (not a surprise given I usually love El Dorado rum, which comes from Guyana), but it was the final Blended product itself I was most excited to try....

Black Tot Finest Caribbean Rum (46.2% ABV, NAS, Blended rum, $660HKD)
Colour: Copper gold

Nose: Grilled pineapple, acetone and glazed honey on the BBQ. There's a meatiness, and a slight hint hint of petrol (in a good way - in the way it really "works" on say a Caroni), along with some vanilla

Palate: Lots of grilled pineapple, BBQ smoke, banana fritters, sweet caramel, dried mango pieces, stewed apples, spice and dried ginger.

Finish: Toasted honey-coated banana toast, coated in icing sugar.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 89/100. I'll admit I was sceptical when I read how tropical the official notes are, but it's true - there are some great tropical flavours in here. I mean, don't expect a 1964 Bowmore, and it's still a rum, but it's a delicious, fruity one.

A big thanks to Timeless & Tasty for the sample pack, and The Whisky Exchange for putting on a fantastic online event and giving those of us in various states of lockdown the ability to still enjoy a delicious spirit and learn something in the process!

From now until 30th September, everyone who buys a bottle of Black Tot Rum from gets the chance to find a Rum Ration Card in their tube, giving them a variety of Black Tot prizes. I'm not sure exactly what the prizes are, but I found one with the bottle I bought (and submitted it for a prize), so I'll let everyone know via Instagram stories once it arrives!