Australian native whisky released

22 May, 2019 by Andy Young

By Jim Plouffe, The Lead South Australia

Adelaide Hills Distillery has launched its inaugural batch of Native Grain Whiskey with the 142 bottles being put up for sale expected to sell fast.

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The 46.2 per cent ABV spirit has garnered plenty of attention already – piquing whisky lovers’ interests with a pre-release in 2017 (before it had aged for its mandatory two years), and then winning Best Australian Grain Whisky at the World Whiskies Awards in March this year.

Native Grain Whiskey’s official debut into the Adelaide Hills Distillery range is the culmination of three years of intense focus on the product by head distiller Sacha La Forgia.

“It took ages to actually figure out how to do it – and then we had to actually [make] it,” La Forgia said.

“We had to figure out how to use wattleseed, because… no one’s ever used wattleseed. So trying to access the starch and convert it to fermentable sugars took a bit of work.”

La Forgia hopes Native Grain Whiskey will help push the Australian whisky industry away from its roots mimicking the Scottish style and toward creating an identifiable Australian identity in the global market.

“I don’t know if you remember in the [Australian] gin industry, the first gins that came out were London Drys, carbon copies,” La Forgia said.

“And then everyone went ‘How am I going to sell this overseas in competition with a world full of London Dry gins?’ We started using native Australian foods. Same thing here.

“Whisky in Australia, when people first started making it; they were just trying to figure out how to do it. And this is the same all over the world, the first people that do it in their country don’t really know what they’re doing, because there’s no way to know. And then over time you figure out the traditional way, and then you start to progress. So this is progress. Hopefully the industry embraces it.”

The starch that forms the fermentable sugars in Native Grain Whiskey’s whisky-making process comes from wattleseed, as opposed to the grain being used to add flavour later in the process.

The result is “heaps of chocolate,” La Forgia said.

“Chocolate and nuts is what the wattleseed gives it. A lot on the back palate, and there’s some really citrusy, toasted cereal notes as well. A little bit of dried fruit.”

With only a short run of bottles available from the distillery’s cellar door, many whisky fans looking to sample a taste of the future of the Australian industry will have to wait until Native Grain Whiskey’s next release, scheduled for around the same time next year.

And proving there is no end to the kinds of accolades La Forgia can rack up – he has gone from being the sole distiller in the Young Gun of Wine Top 50 to being the sole distiller in the Young Gun of Wine Top 12.