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Morris Australian Single Malt Whisky Review - An Exploration of Rutherglen, Victoria's Finest


Morris Australian Single Malt Whisky Review

Australian single malt whisky is a category I can confidently say I have had no experience with prior to being introduced to Morris. Though I have some dear friends who hail from the land down under, I have not had the pleasure of exploring if they're capable of making great single malt whisky. Scotch, Irish, and a budding sub-category in American single malt are all fairly well established in the world market today. So, what does a Rutherglen, Victoria, distillery have to say for themselves? Well, it turns out, they've been at this a lot longer than I've been alive. On the back label of their bottle, they offer a quick note on their rich heritage as the 'Masters of flavour', saying:


At Morris our family has been crafting world renowned flavour for six generations, since 1859. It's our rare prize winning barrels that gift us a distinct and uniquely Australian whisky experience.

Modern history, as it relates to their whisky, however, does not have continuity back to that date, which is true for most companies hanging their hat on tradition. In 2016, the company built a distillery around an old, original copper still and began producing whisky that built upon their long history with modern distillation practices. Combining local barley with the winery expertise of David Morris and the in-house cooper, Anton Remkes, means that this is an Australian company through and through. Morris goes on to explain the backbone of their team with their website, revealing:


Collectively our team has decades of experience in producing whisky, and perhaps most importantly crafting distinct and unique flavour.
From 2016, when we founded the distillery the team has been led by John McDougall, one of the world’s most renowned whisky makers with experience consulting in all of the traditionally recognised regions of Scotland for over 25 distilleries and brands including;. Balvenie, Laphroaig and Springbank. Darren Peck, is our resident Head Distiller and with 25 years of experience in the alcohol industry, has worked under the tutelage of McDougall for the last five years. The late Dr Jim Swan, described as the ‘Einstein of whisky’ for his technical expertise and has extensive experience working with renowned brands, was a key consultant.

My review today features "The Signature" release of Morris, their flagship offering, which seems to be fairly widely distributed, which is always great to see a level of accessibility in something that crosses my desk. I believe it earned its name due to George Morris' signature being scrawled across the front label. Given Rutherglen emulated its name after the town just outside of Glasgow in Scotland, I wonder how many parallels we might find between some of the single malt Scotch whiskies that I've previously sampled. History, lore, and family tradition aside, you're probably wondering if the liquid in the bottle is worth your time and money, so let's get on with that.



If you'd rather watch than read, that's me in the video above. It's well in line with what is written below, but is ultimately less detailed. I'd like to thank Morris for sending along this bottle with no strings attached so that I may give it a fair review, in accordance with my editorial policy. Let's jump in and explore everything this malt has to offer.


 

Company on Label: Morris (Copper and Grain Distilling Co, imported by Hotaling & Co)

Whiskey Type: Australian Single Malt Whisky

Mash Bill Percentages: 100% malted barley

Proof: 88°

Age: NAS (A minimum of 3 years in oak before being further finished in Morris wine barrels; given the distillery opened in 2016, it couldn't be older than 8 years)

Further identification: This flagship 700 mL bottle of Morris Australian single malt, aged in ex-wine casks made from American and French oak used in Morris' fortified wine business, is available now at an MSRP of $50-60, though your market pricing may vary


 

Nose: The resting glass exudes a decadent sweetness that can be smelled from some distance away. Upon lifting the liquid to meet my nose, I find a potent, oily richness I'm well accustomed to in Irish whiskeys. It presents like a rich flan, impossibly creamy in the nose. After a long rest, I begin to explore the full depths of the glass; the sweet honey-butter aromas that roll out are magnificent. A slice of classic coffee cake sits upon a white napkin. Smelling further gives me the impression of stonework and fenestrations in the mind's eye, taking me to the older sections of London I've visited. It's a distinct malt, as to be expected from a malt, which challenges the observer much deeper than more impressionable spirits. As I struggle to wrestle with the ephemeral, I am urged to take a sip.


Returning the glass to my nose after a few savored sips shows off a sweet air that swirls in the light summer breeze of a grassy knoll. This comfortable location feels a little ways inland from the ocean, but it is still close enough to have a touch of salt in the air. An arrangement of rocks forms a seldom-used fire pit that encircles the little liquid left in the glass. The empty glencairn smells of delicate moss and charcoal pencils.


Palate: My first taste of Morris reveals eye-widening buttered popcorn and distinct grilled pita bread. Savory tomato tones bubble up alongside hints of mozzarella and basil, which, in conjunction with some of the tones from the nose, is suggestive of enjoying a well-made pizza at an outdoor restaurant somewhere in Europe. As I've woefully never been to Australia, I wonder how much of this is some local terroir playing a role in the final character of the whisky. Continued visitations to the oily depths show off fluffy King's Hawaiian rolls, oatmilk, and buttercream frosting. Overall, this is a balanced, buttery whisky that lands with delicate grace on the tongue. One of my favorite parts of this whisky is the mouthfeel and viscosity. My last sip makes my tongue say to my brain, "This is a great malt," before a wave of honey-butter and popcorn once again swirls in a sweet dance. This finish is on the shorter end, but the lingering mouth coating of butterscotch and milk chocolate more than makes up for that.


TL;DR: A quintessential single malt whisky that is beautiful in its uniquely Australian character


 

Rating: 4/5


Morris Australian Single Malt Whisky Review

This lands much closer to the Irish single malt character than a single malt Scotch whisky, in my opinion, though fans of either can find something to love within this liquid. I find the likes of Clynelish 14 to be more dominating and powerful on the palate, but the Morris is actually a touch more complex. While the Clynelish excels and surpasses in the honey-butter department, Morris maintains a defining sweetness with that kiss of tomato, basil, and mozzarella really just screaming for a margherita pizza pairing. Yum!

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