One of the most pleasurable little finds of my summer holiday in New Zealand was an unexpected gem of a whisky, with a striking label and an even more striking taste.
Thomson info seems a touch light on the ground, but the general gist seems to be that these guys are curators of forgotten whisky stocks. The first three releases (there is a 11 and a 17 year old, in addition to the 10 above) are all from a now defunct distillery that closed its doors in 1999.
The Willowbank Distillery produced Lammerlaw & Milford back in the day, with the still being claimed as the most southerly in existence. While the distillery was in Dunedin, the barrels were allegedly aged in Oamaru, slightly to the north, in a habourside aging facility.
“Milford is a quality new world whisky almost indistinguishable in style from Scottish single malt.” Robin Laing, WHISKY magazine, high praise indeed.
Willowbank had a reputation for producing Lowland style malts, and that creamy elegance is certainly present in the 10 year old bottling of Thomson. Where it departs the lowlands however, and what makes it a little bit of a unique standout in my book, is the strength of the peat and the salty lick imparted from its aging by the sea. It’s as though someone on Jura decided to knock off Dalwhinnie.
To describe it as a knock off definitely sells it short, this is a very well put together malt, bottled and presented beautifully. I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing more from the label, and I pray there are many more forgotten treasures hiding in casks around New Zealand.
The Whisky Shop in New Zealand sells this handsome threesome and looks to be open to shipping around the world, It’s priced at NZ$90.90 which, given the current exchange rate, is a absolute bargain. Lucky Aucklanders will be able to try a dram at the Golden Dawn, or at D.O.C on K road.