Born out of a desire to fuse Australia’s burgeoning whisky-making tradition with the distinctive flavour and style of Bourbon, NED is a true blue Aussie distillery straight out of Campbellfield, Victoria. The heart of the company’s ethos rests in crafting a dark spirit that is “uniquely Australian”: a mantra that-founder Drew Fairchild and Master Distiller Sebastian Reaburn are dead serious about, as demonstrated by NED’s robust range of aged, single-barrel, and pre-mix whisky.
The brand’s unique point of difference is in the way that the company takes the best elements of single malt distillation and allies these to the ‘sour mash’ technique. The latter is an essential part of crafting Bourbon whiskey and implemented by almost all American distilleries including Jack Daniels, Michter’s and Woodford Reserve.
But what exactly is a ‘sour mash’ whisky?
Reduced to its simplest terms, a sour mash is any distilled spirit in which the ‘mash’ (in this case a solution of water mixed with corn, wheat and barley) has been ‘soured’ using the addition of acid. It’s a part of the brewing and fermentation process and certainly doesn’t reflect the end flavour.
Also referred to as ‘backset’, distillers achieve this by taking a portion of spent mash post-fermentation – it being rich in acid – and adding it to the next run. For over a century, American distillers have employed this technique: adjusting and controlling the pH levels in each new batch of whiskey using what would be waste. The process creates consistency and conditions the mash against bacterial growth, ensuring the proper balance needed for the yeast used in the mash’s fermentation to take effect.
This process, as it pertains to NED, is crucial to the brand’s popular and award-winning ‘NED Australian Sour Mash Whisky’ ($59.95). It adds a beautiful round flavour that provides hints of caramel and vanilla. In the early development of NED, the distillers discovered that it transported structural, chewy flavours into smoother, rounded ones.
An easy-drinking formulation with a 40% ABV, this is an excellent entry point into the brand that gets the most out of a mash bill loaded with premium Aussie grains.
The whisky is by turns spicy, fruity and vanillin in flavour. As with NED’s more mature, higher ABV ‘Green Sash’ expression, whereby specially selected reserve-grade barrels of NED are harvested over charred American oak blocks, versatility is the name of the game.
The Australian Whisky’s balance of coconut, stone fruit and chunk chocolate aromas make it a natural substitute for the Bourbon/Rye you’ll commonly build into an Old Fashioned. There’s even an argument to be made that – despite what’s already been said by the brand’s own spokespeople – that this is even better than the reserve graded Green Sash in simple, highball-style cocktails. That comes down to the Australian Whisky’s finish, which evinces a “spicy clean heat” – killer when sipped alongside a dash of soda water and spritz of lemon, against the backdrop of the Aussie high summer.
On the off-chance that you don’t happen to have a jigger, strainer and various mixing tins lying around, that certainly won’t preclude you from enjoying NED’s flagship sour mash whisky. Far from it.
The spirit’s versatility and complementary layers of flavour mean that you can also sample it neat, over-ice or in a variety of ready-to-drink styles. Being that Australia Day is just around the corner, it’s an opportune moment to get acquainted with NED’s dry ginger ale ($119.95) and cola ($149.95) flavoured pre-mixers.
The ready-to-drink products are available via the brand’s e-shop in cases of 24, and also at LiquorLand, First Choice and all good Independent bottle shops in smaller pack sizes, they’re yet another way to enjoy the smooth and easy-drinking flavour of NED’s original sour mash whisky – more refreshing than ever and quintessentially Aussie.
This article is proudly presented in partnership with NED Australian Whisky. Thank you for supporting the brands who support Boss Hunting.