By Drinks Digest Whisky Editor David Fuller
Drinks Digest had the pleasure to attend a virtual whisky tasting this week to launch the new partnership between The Whisky List and Spirit Thief.
Spirit Thief is based just outside of Hobart, Tasmania, and its new “Exploration Series” features six whiskies each designed to showcase the unique effects of maturing whisky using non-traditional ex-red wine casks, such as French Oak Tempranillo, Grenache and Bordeaux.
As an independent bottler – one of around 300 in the world – Spirit Thief is free to acquire and collaborate with multiple distilleries and partners. Self-described “gypsy distiller” Brett Steel, who is the Founder and Master Blender at Spirit Thief, explained to virtual tasting attendees that he got into the whisky business by hosting Tasmanian whisky tours.
With his Spirit Thief project, Brett has focused on the marriage between spirit and heavily-charred ex red wine casks and the resulting complex arrangement between oak, spirit, char, tannin and flavour profile that is bold, elegant and unique.
The six whiskies in the series have been hand selected for their new unique flavour characteristics and highlight amazing new-make spirit from five different distilleries. Available in the new range are three whiskies from award winning Tasmanian distilleries, Belgrove, Adams and Shene distilleries. Also available is one whisky from New Zealand and another from Scotland.
“Spirit Thief began as a passion project that accidentally grew into a business. Back in 2015 we intended to experiment with one cask of French Oak Tempranillo and one cask of American Oak Shiraz to mature Tasmanian new-make spirit from the original Redlands Distillery, Tasmania,” Brett said. “We wanted to know the difference that would take place between specific
grape-varietal wines and oak types in the final whiskies. The results surpassed our expectations, and the demand for more was high, our first bottles selling out fast.”
Brett led us through a tasting of five whiskies from the Exploration Series. These whiskies had separately spent time in French oak Pinot, French oak Grenache, Mataro, French Cabernet and American oak Shiraz using spirits from NZ Whisky Co, Shene, Belgrove and Adams distilleries. The resultant whiskies showed amazing variety, complexity and depth of flavour.
Our favourite was the beautifully perfumed French Oak Grenache, using Shene double distilled whisky, while the most unusual was the Coastal Peated French Oak Cabernet, Belgrove Distillery which Brett described as a “divisive … funky …wildcard” and is the only whisky in our experience to have tasting notes of “peanut brittle”.
Spirit Thief certainly stole our attention with some wonderfully different whiskies.
All six expressions of the new Spirit Thief Exploration Series will be available to purchase from February 18, 2021. You can buy them directly from www.spiritthief.com.au or from your favourite specialised independent Australians retailers on www.thewhiskylist.com.au spirits marketplace.
All six whiskies will be priced at $185.
Categories: New releases