Willowbank 17 Years (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Wilson distillery - New Zealand whisky

Willowbank or the Wilson Distillery was located in Dunedin, New Zealand. Founded in 1974 by the Baker family, it is known for the Lammerlaw whiskies (actually a Seagrams brand, also seen from Cadenhead), the Milford single malt.

However it closed down in 1997, the stills were sold to a rum company and remaining stocks are now owned by The New Zealand Whisky Company which occasionally releases some of the remanining 300-400 casks.

Given the grapes and vines on the label, it is likely that this single malt underwent some wine finishing. In fact a whole series of Willowbank casks had already been re-racked into French oak New Zealand wine barrels before, in order to create a DoubleWood whisky.

There’s no explicit information on the label though and the vagueness is underscored by the age statement. It is possibly a re-bottling of some sort, otherwise how would you explain a 17 year-old, bottled in 2017 from a distillery that closed in 1997?

Update 12/06/2018: just received an e-mail from TBWC that they’ve mislabeled it. It is actually a ‘single blend’, a mix of malted and unmalted barley distilled in a pot still at the same distillery. Doesn’t really help the suggestion of delusion that surrounds it.



Willowbank 17 Years - That Boutiquey Whisky CompanyWillowbank 17 yo
(53,8%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company 2017, 50 cl, 307 btl.)

Nose: a lot of wood, a lot of glue aromas and nail polish as well. Then pine resin and mentholated notes. If you insist to compare, it’s closest to some bourbon whiskey. After a while it moves to cherry candy, candied pear and sultanas. Cinnamon bubblegum, hints of latte and charred oak. An increasing sourness as well (yuzu). Intruiging, if you like glue.

Mouth: a stunning sourness again, with moist tobacco and a staggering tannic winey side. Traces of cognac underneath. Oak juice. Redcurrants, sour cherries and hints of cranberries. A hint of toffee sweetness and earthy notes as a counterweight, but never finding the proper balance.

Finish: medium long, very oaky, still winey, with hints of burnt wood.


Unlike anything I’ve had before. The wine influence is huge, there’s a lot of glue on the nose and plenty of sour wood on the palate. Very funky but I must admit it isn’t all bad and a very interesting curiosum. Do not get this if you’re only buying one bottle this year, please. Available from Master of Malt. You can get many other products through their European importer LMdW.

Score: 70/100 (although I would better not score it as whisky)