On Thursday evening, whiskey lovers joined The Whisky List’s tasting hosted by 78 Degree’s Stuart ‘Chewy’ Morrow and Melbourne based Sales and Marketing Manager, Fred Siggins, to launch the highly anticipated Muscat finish bottling.
The first thing to note is that at 78 Degrees, all whiskies are spelled with an ‘e’. Mr Siggins explained this is because the whiskey from this Adelaide Hills Distillery is a ‘new world order’, and indeed, that seemed to be the recurring theme from the evening.
The team from 78 Degrees are doing things differently, they are making exciting whiskies, and they are making them in innovative and sustainable ways.
For The Whisky List founder and host, Oliver Maruda said, “It’s always a pleasure exploring a new Australian distillery and tonight’s virtual tasting, diving into five different expressions from 78 Degrees, was one of the highlight tastings of the year for me.
“78 Degrees are innovating the way whiskey is made in Australia, focusing on both locally grown ingredients and sustainability in their production process.”
At 78 Degrees, they don’t waste any part of the barely – they distill the barley, husks and all – and abide by an ethos of transparency, where every label displays what’s in the bottle – the grains used, cask types, batch number – and consumers can even type in the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates to see exactly the field in which the grains were grown.
“They’ve created a uniquely flavoured Aussie whisky, as in it tastes like you’re foraging in the Aussie countryside (it’s not a Scotch or Bourbon), bottling at 700ml and their core range starting around the $100 mark is another win for consumers,” said Mr Maruda.
The tasting started with 78 Degrees Australian whisky – 44 per cent abv – which was awarded Best of Category – International Whiskey at the American Distilling Institute Craft Spirits Awards held in Louisville earlier this year.
At the time, distillery Founder and Head Distiller, Sacha La Forgia said, “When we set out to create the Australian Whiskey, our drive was not to replicate but to innovate. I think we’ve achieved that and I hope this award puts Australian whiskey on a global stage, and gives it the recognition that it deserves.”
The whiskey uses a base of local barley, along with one of Australia’s most sustainable production processes and was described by judges as a “very graceful whiskey with a grassy, rich palate, decent structure and finish”.
Mr Siggins described it as “uniquely Australian, produced with the Australian climate and palette in mind”.
Next up was the newly released 78 Degrees Muscat Finish – 44 per cent abv – which proved a crowd favourite. Created again to be uniquely Australian and handcrafted from a base of local, single paddock, unmalted barley, along with 11 speciality malts, it is comforting: warm, toasty and sweet.
Only 2,000 bottles of the 78º Muscat Finish Whiskey have been produced so be quick to try it.
Next up was the 78 Degrees Native Grain Whiskey – 46.2 per cent abv – winner of World’s Best Grain Whisky at the World Whiskies Awards this year. Made with barley and Australian endemic weeping grass, it is the most expensive in the range at $450 a bottle.
Mr Siggins said, “I think we will look back in decades and see this was the first ever whisky made using endemic Australian grain species. And to be the first and to be recognised on the world stage like that, is awesome.”
However, it is expensive to produce. Weeping grass has gone up in price from $90 per kilo when they first made it and today sits at $190 per kilo.
The Whisky List’s Oliver Maruda described this expression as “super-elegant & refined” and the process as impressive in terms of experimentation and innovation.
Speaking of which, we then got to taste the 78 Degrees x Corsair Smoked Whiskey – 44 per cent abv – described as a “work-in-progress sample” – a peated whiskey that was extra smoked with cherry wood and red gum.
Mr Maruda said, “Delicious and I can’t wait for it’s release next year. Was the crowd favourite tied alongside the 78 Degrees Muscat Cask finished whiskey, recently released about one month ago.”
We finished the evening with Adelaide Hills Distillery Apple Brandy – 46.2 per cent abv – made with twice distilled Hills Cider and The Whisky list audience and were lucky enjoy the last three bottles of the batch.
Since being acquired by Mighty Craft earlier this year, one gets the sense that things are only going to get bigger and more exciting for the dynamic team at 78 Degrees.