For such an established spirit, Whiskey has earned a somewhat confused reputation in Australia. Sometimes lauded, sometimes reviled, often the product of huge operations in far off, exotic lands. But in a small factory space in East Perth, the good people over at Whipper Snapper Distillery are making strides in both Australian and International whiskey, all the while putting out a beautiful, approachable product and being transparent about their processes all the way. We stopped by Whipper Snapper to talk to distiller Tim Hosken about the logistics of creating a uniquely Australian Whiskey.
Whipper Snapper manage every aspect of production in house, from sourcing grains and corn from around Western Australia, to mashing, distilling and bottling. They hit the market with Crazy Uncle Moonshine, a white grain spirit made of whiskey before it is aged in oak barrels. Tim told us that the decision to release was, foremost, it made sense when intending to make a smooth Whiskey, that the pre-barrelled spirit should be smooth and approachable itself. Beyond this, it helped the young distillery get their name and product out during the two-year period their whiskey would need to sit in barrels. Whipper Snapper were amongst the first Australian distilleries to put out a moonshine, but since Crazy Uncle debuted in 2014 the product has begun appearing in more and more distilleries, both as a versatile cocktail ingredient, and an interesting look into whiskey stripped of the influence of oak barrels.
Their first Whiskey, Upshot, is a divergence from many Australian and international whiskies, more similar in style to American bourbon than to Blended or Single Malt Scotch. The decision to include corn in their mash has resulted in a product which is less familiar, but more robust and better suited to Perth’s climate- which is remarkably different to Scotland’s.
How To Make Whiskey
Making Whiskey looks like a complex process, but breaks down into a series of more digestible processes. The staff at Whipper Snapper are very transparent about their process, and offer tours showing and talking customers through the process.
To make Upshot Whiskey and Crazy Uncle Moonshine, a combination of local grains and corn are crushed up in what is essentially a giant coffee grinder, and then boiled and fermented to create a beer-like Mash. The Mash is run through their still— a copper column still bought second hand from a distillery in America.
As it comes out of the still, the ‘heart’ of the spirit is separated from the ‘heads’ and ‘tails’: the less palatable spirit which runs at the start and then toward the end of the run, respectively. This remaining heart of the spirit is run through the still a second time, then the resulting spirit, over 90% alcohol, is cut down to 43% and let to set in oak barrels for two years to make Upshot Whiskey, or cut down to 43% to make Crazy Uncle Moonshine.
Whipper Snapper are in 139 Kensington Street, East Perth. Open every day as a cellar door and able to book tours daily.