South Australia has another whisky producer to add to its ranks, with 5Nines Distilling releasing their first single malts this week. Three whiskies were unveiled for the inaugural release: Vatted-Lightly Peated, a marriage of four 100 litre casks, and two single cask bottlings matured in ex-tawny and ex-Bourbon.
Adelaide-based David Pearse and Steven Griguol are the founders and distillers behind 5Nines. The longtime friends entered into the distilling partnership after Pearse decided he’d had enough of his IT job with a major bank, which saw him commuting to Sydney every week.
Over a whisky one night, Pearse mentioned to Griguol, a cabinet-maker by trade, that he was starting up a distillery. ‘Get out. You’re not doing that without me,’ argued Griguol. So began 5Nines Distilling.
The pair went to Tasmania and completed the distilling course at Redlands (now Old Kempton Distillery). Pearse then began setting up the distillery in his garage on his Greenhill property in the Adelaide Hills.
David Pearse and Steven Griguol, 5Nines Distilling – Supplied
Sourcing a still presented an early road block. Knapp Lewer, one of Australia’s only still makers at the time, was backed up with a two year waiting period
‘We’re weren’t waiting two years. So we thought, let’s get on and do this, and then designed and built the still ourselves,’ Pearse tells us.
A local engineer assisted with the design, and then Pearse and Griguol got to work constructing the 1000 litre pot still in their spare time.
With the distillery set up, the next step was sourcing the grains. They started with pilsner malt from Joe White Maltings but then developed a relationship with specialist malsters Yorke Premium.
‘Even though Joe White malt was grown and malted here in South Australia, we wanted to build a relationship with someone local, rather than a multinational,’ says Pearse.
‘They [Yorke Premium] have been fantastic to deal with, and the farmer we’re working with is also developing a breeding program with about five different heritage malts as well. He’s tapped into the University of Adelaide’s seed bank and is now propagating a whole bunch of different heritage grains that we’ll look at in future.’
Traceability is clearly important to the distilling duo. Intricate production details are made available with 5Nines whiskies. You can see exactly where the malt was sourced for each bottling, as well as the fermentation time, filling and decanting dates, even the precise yeasts used.
5Nines bond store – Supplied
Being so close to South Australia’s world renowned wine regions meant easy access to a plethora of different cask styles (the cooperage for each whisky cask is also listed in the production notes). Currently, spirit has been filled into tawny, apera and ex-Bourbon casks, but chardonnay, shiraz and a number of ex-dessert wine barrels have also been filled.
‘Steve’s been working really hard with South Australian wine and fortified makers to source some unique barrels. So there’s some really interesting releases coming up over the next few years. We’ve been able to source some ex-liqueur verdelho barrels and some frontignac barrels as well, and the whisky that’s coming along in those is just tasting fantastic.’
5Nines ‘Select Cask’, a future release – Supplied
The current ‘vatted’ and single cask bottlings will eventually be joined by these one-off ‘Select Cask’ expressions, diluted to an optimal ABV and priced between the flagship single malt and cask strength bottlings. The broader plan is to relocate the distillery to its own site nearby in the Adelaide Hills and offer a cellar door experience where 5Nines’ successful gin range will also be on show.
The first release Vatted-Lightly Peated is priced at $120 (700ml), while the two inaugural single cask bottlings are $270 each (700ml). All three are currently available through the 5Nines Distilling website.