The South Island 21 is a soft, simple, striaght-forward and tasty whisky that survived 2 rounds of international travel to make it to Los Angeles. It was brought from New Zealand to California by a friend of mine who spent his honeymoon in Australia and New Zealand. He actually brought back a couple of whiskies, but this one was by far my favorite.
Aged in ex-bourbon barrels this whisky was created in a now shuttered distillery using only ingredients from New Zealand. In fact everything that is currently offered by The New Zealand Whisky Collection is what remains from New Zealand’s whisky distilling history which came to an end in 1997. Their site says they’re hoping to start distilling again soon and if this is any indication of what they can produce I’m all for it.
South Island 21 Review
Age: 21 years
Distiller: Willowbank Distillery
Mashbill: 100% New Zealand Barley
Complex fruit notes that run from apple heavy orchard to banana and coconut heavy tropical fruit bolstered by simple floral notes that combine to create a pleasant initial bouquet. Sliding between the fruit and floral are hints of malt, sugar, vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg and a warm rum like sweetness.
Again the soft yet complex orchard and tropical fruit notes take over with strong support from caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, wood and touch of leather. A complex spice serves as solid flooring for all of these flavors, and more, to mix and mingle on.
The fruit gets a little muddled in the finish and the wood moves up trailing notes of caramel, vanilla, leather and cinnamon on a long slow fade.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
The sweetness is a little high, but still manages to keep a moderate balance which compliments the full body and silken texture quite well.
This is a lovely whisky. It reminds me of a rich Speyside along the lines of a Glenmorangie 18. It has a complex sweetness that is filled with crisp notes and subtle hints that make it a fun whisky to sip and explore. I hope the distillery is brought back to life very soon.