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.

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