Nant Whisky Cellar and Bar, Fortitude Valley

Whisky has only been my drink of choice a few memorable times in my life. Unfortunately the most powerful of those memories includes an almost empty bottle, an ex boyfriend and a bathroom floor - say no more.

However I now have a chance to change all that as a strange twist of fate saw me walk out with the prize of the night at the opening of Brisbane's new and only dedicated whisky bar, Nant, a 500ml bottle of their top Single Malt Whisky.

It rated 95.5 per cent in The Jim Murray Whisky Bible 2012, which has whisky lovers weak at the knees, and has been described by Jim as 'liquid gold'.

I also met the man behind Nant, Keith Batt.  Keith acquired the Nant Estate in Bothwell, Tasmania in 2004 and set about restoring the old water driven flour mill built by convicts in 1823. The mill now is used to grist malted barley for whisky.

 "Water is sourced from a one million year old glacial lake via the Clyde River as it finds its way to the Nant Mill pond," Keith says. "The temperature is perfect and Tasmania produces some of the best barley in the world."

Nant's first release malt whisky bottles sold for $1,000 each and now sell for between $125 and $295 per 500ml bottle.

Along with the new Brisbane bar, Keith has also notched up a bar opening in Salamanca, Tasmania.

After admiring his tattoos (see the top photo), I had a good chat to bartender Simon Besse who helped me start my new journey of whisky appreciation.  There's no right way to drink whisky, he told me, it's up to individual preference. So I tried some with a dash of water and felt the slow, warming burn.  I think I could get used to that.

Find the Nant bar backing onto Wickham Street in Emporium in the far corner of the complex. The bar stocks more than 150 varieties of whiskies from around the world including Scotland, India, Wales Ireland and Japan.  It seats just 46 people and showcases food from Tasmania including Cape Grim beef and Rannock Farm quail. There's also interesting art on display.

So here's my prize - an attractively packaged bottle of Nant Whisky that has been matured in a 100 litre French oak sherry cask for four years.  The tasting notes say it's rich and balanced, sweet and nutty to start with sherry, maple, complex and well balanced. The palate has a dry finish in the middle with a touch of heat and a sherried undercurrent. Lovely overtone of coffee to finish.  Evidently I am to match this whisky with smoked salmon or trout, trout liver pate, rich fatty wagyu or black angus beef. 

Bottom line: Explore something new or rejoice in your old faves, plenty of whisky for all.
Top tip:  Don't be intimidated by the experts or your friends, drink your whisky just the way you like it.

Nant Distillery

Disclaimer:  E,d+bK was a guest at the opening and won the prize in a lucky door draw.