Austalia has received world wide recognition for producing quality whiskies. There is also a notable community of Australians enjoying the magic of this incredibly complex distilled elixir. Through this community we have met an aspiring and inspiring individual affectionately known as Crafty. Well known within the Australian whisky scene and well recognised by his trademark brimless docker cap. Aspiring to follow his dream of becoming a master distiller in his own distillery, this self proclaimed apprentice distiller is well on his way. Inspiring others through his determination to achieve his dream, Crafty has chosen to follow his passion and has put in the hard work, surrounding himself with many great mentors from the Australian whisky scene. Sourcing and using quality local ingredients and equipment to craft his product.
Our our way to celebrate world whisky day at Blackgate distillery, we hit the Western NSW whisky trail and stopped in to see Crafty and follow his progress and check out his distillery in the town of Capertee. The distillery in a great location, only 2.5 hrs from Sydney, just beyond the Blue Mountains between Lithgow and Mudgee. Another plus, it is at the back of a pub, the Capertee hotel. Grab a room, stay the night and enjoy a quality pub feed. Oh and there is also a microbrewery at the back of the pub.
Crafty was busily working away as we arrived late on the Friday afternoon and we were happy to throw on some old clothes, offer our assistance and learn about the whisky making process. It was a great experience to help Crafty with his work, which is pretty much beer and the start of producing his spirit. The process is started by milling the malted barley sourced from local producer Voyager, with a secret mix of grain going into the mix. Milling the grain was hard yakka, lifting and pouring multiple 25kg bags into the mill.
Next up, it is a real life version of tetris, re-arranging the distillery to fit the mash ton. When the water hit the right temperature, we worked quickly to pump the water from the still into the mash ton then added the milled malt and began stirring it through. Then ran the liquid through the condensers to cool it down.
A hard earned thirst, our efforts were rewarded with a tasting of his product. The tasting included the just Derek, his independent bottling, the juice aged in a cask coopered in South Australia, an American Oak barrel, sherry cask. We also tried an Eau de Vie, Crafty had produced in collaboration with Artemis wines from the Southern Highlands.
Then we tried some of his tasty new project, the Tyrian Cask, spirit Crafty distilled, 12 months old and well on its journey to become Crafty’s first whisky made from his own spirit. The name Tyrian in reference to his past life in the printing industry. A dram with delicious mocha chocolate notes, salted caramel and spice. We can’t wait to come back to this, once it completes its time ageing in the barrel, a minimum of two years to be called a whisky.
On the way out we also purchased a bottle of his award winning independent bottling: Blak soul beast. This dark mysterious dram aged in port cask claiming a few international awards, this fuelling and encouraging Crafty to continue to forge ahead, with his dream well within reach. We encourage you to support this local artisan, pay a visit to Capertee Hotel and the Craft Works distillery. Crafty is a friendly character and will be more than happy to share his dream, show you his craft and share a dram.