The Mornington Peninsula’s Bass & Flinders Distillery have just released the debut vintage of what they are dubbing Australia’s first Cognac-style aged spirit (as with sparkling from Champagne, spirits from outside the French locality can’t technically be referred to as Cognac). It goes by the evocatively apt name of “Ochre“.
The distillery’s Bob Laing explains that the name “reminds me instantly of the colours out of northern Australia, those rock formations off the western Australian coast, I just think the best sands at sunset. It also reminds me of the soil we have a lot of at Red Hill and of course the colour of our spirit.” While the aged spirit takes a lot of inspiration from French methods, Bass & Flinders also wanted to make something distinctly Australian and looked to the recent success of Tasmania’s single malt whiskey producers when it came to maturation. Ochre is made from Chardonnay grapes and spends time in pinot noir barrels before it goes into oak barrels from Cognac. They reckon that their methods can capture the flavour of a much older spirit in just five years. And that flavour should be honey, amber, pears, orange, vanilla and caramel – elements that tend to go well with after-dinner coffee or dessert – within a lovingly leather-bound bottle.
Spirits of France founder and cognac expert Gabriel Chaise contests that Ochre just might be “something that gives the shits to the French!”
You can try Ochre exclusiely at Bass & Flinders’ cellar door at 232 Red Hill Road, Red Hill.