Australia is on the rise as a whiskey producer, and the latest brand to enter the fray is Morris, which was officially launched in the U.S. last September — becoming only the third Aussie whiskey brand to be sold in the country. The goal of Morris: “to capture the provenance, climate, and terroir of Australia.”
Here’s a little more info:
Led by Head Distiller Darren Peck, who’s worked under the tutelage of one of the world’s most renowned whisky makers John McDougall (Springbank, Laphroaig, Balvenie, among others), Morris combines decades of tradition with modern techniques to craft a distinct style of Australian single malt whisky. Produced in Victoria, Morris Whisky is crafted using 100% locally sourced ingredients and is finished in award-winning fortified wine barrels, producing a maturity, depth and richness of flavor usually reserved for whiskies with extended ageing. With hot days and cool nights, Australia’s Mediterranean climate allows the liquid to mature faster than whiskies aged in cooler climates, allowing for richer and more robust flavors to develop in a shorter time.
“At Morris, we’ve created a unique whisky style that speaks to our home in Rutherglen. Made with Australian barley and pure, filtered water from the Snowy Mountains, Morris Whisky reflects not only the world-class fortified barrels but also its regional Victorian provenance,” said Darren Peck, Head Distiller of Morris Whisky. “The Rutherglen region has a climate of hot summer days and cool nights, which is ideal conditions not only for producing world-class wines but also barrel ageing exquisite whisky.”
Two expressions are available at present, and we experienced them both. Thoughts follow.
Morris “Signature” Australian Single Malt Whiskey – Aged for three-plus years, including some time in ex-wine barrels of unstated type. Husky, dusky, heavy on the nose with notes of hemp rope, earth, and charred wood, this is a “new school” single malt that leans on the barrel more than I’d like. The initially gritty pungency gives way on the palate to ample greenery — think fresh mint, thyme, and dill — with a back-end of dark chocolate, creating a gentle Andes mint quality. A load of oxidized fruit, driven by the wine barrel, becomes evident in short order, evoking dried apricots, some peach, and apple notes, but this tends to blow off with time in glass. More wood rumbles back in time for the finish, ultimately dominating amidst elements of clove and Christmas spice. Exuberant, yes; balanced, no — but maybe that’s the essence of Australia in a whiskey bottle? This might show itself differently with another three-plus years in cask, but for now… 88 proof. B / $60 (700ml) [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]
Morris Muscat Barrels Australian Single Malt Whiskey – Aged in American and French oak casks, including ex-wine casks, then finished in fortified muscat wine barrels. Definitely more approachable than the Signature, the muscat wine gives this whiskey an instantaneous sweetness that really perks up the malty, woodsy backbone of the spirit. The nose is still hearty and full of pungency, though the sweet muscat wine takes some of the edge off, giving it notes of apple cider and golden raisins. Much the same on the palate, though there’s a notable floral character here, laden with incense, that gives the whiskey an extra dimension. The wine influence remains strong and bold, particularly into the expressive finish, which offers a quality more Madeira than muscat — heavy on the oxidation, sharp as hell, and more exuberant than Yahoo Serious. 96 proof. A- / $90 (700ml) [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]