North of me, inland from sea,
South of Bundy, Toowoomba and Dundee,
Boasting a population of 373, lay a town called Capertee.
Hardened by drought, Struck down by flame,
Yet never a doubt, locals will always reclaim,
Among those lads stands a lout, trying to make whisky his fame.
If you are a fan of Australian whisky and follow its circles and trends, you will most certainly know Craig Field. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you will better recognise him as ‘Crafty’. The eccentric and infectiously enthusiastic bloke that post at a frenetic pace to Facebook and Instagram from the confines of his 60 square metre shed at the back of a NSW pub. That shed is his distillery; His workplace and haven.
“I am a craft worker therefore I am…”
I have heard Crafty say the above quote many times and seen him write is a thousand more. But, I never really understood what it meant. Let me explain:
“I am a Craft Worker therefore I am…” to Crafty simply it means being a maker makes him happy as he loves to share the experiences of growth.
“ Humanising the Art of Whisky” to Crafty simply it means no automation , no marketing just real stories about making whisky old school.
Nestled at the edge of the striking Capertee Valley, about an hours drive North of Bathurst, is the spot where Crafty chose to establish his humble operation. That was just over 2 years ago now, but before that he had the wisdom to lay down casks as an Australian Independent Bottler (IB). He is now (as I believe) the only Australian distillery that does dabbles in both OB and IB.
But why IB?
“..Well this is where I learnt a lot about wood selection, spirit flavour profiling & barrel maturation. I couldn’t think of a better foundation that applies directly to my own distilling and fillings in the shed.”
Crafty does everything manually too. Old school hard labour, from lifting grain bags, milling, mashing, shovelling out, distilling, lifting and racking barrels and in the end, hand bottling and labelling. He is truly a one man operation but says that he is still learning daily;
“Oh I have mates that help out sometimes and in particular Todd aka the apprentice’s apprentice. I am the distiller’s apprentice. That’s how I see myself and it keeps me grounded. I may be a master distiller in 30 years who knows.”
Crafty currently brews on a mobile mash tun. In fact it is an old milk vat on a boat trailer to be precise. His distils in a short and squat 970L copper pot still called Sunflower Still No1. It is a thing of beauty and was built by his mate Mark Burns from Burns Welding & Fabrication in Griffith NSW.
His grain bill comes from Voyager Craft Malt and is made up of a stout base with a blend of both base and speciality malts including a specifically roasted malt called CRAFTY SPECIAL ROAST which has been tailor made for him in particular. That is the joy with working with a wonderful family owned and local business.
Crafty has already won international recognition for IB release BLAK SOUL BEAST including a Silver in the Independent Botttling Challenge in UK. As well Crafty won a Bronze standing in the 2019 London Spirits Competition.
However, the exciting news is that Crafty’s very first OB Single Malt Whisky is not far off being ready. Keep an eye out on travellingwhiskyreviews.com for news of its release!
But for now, we are lucky enough to have been gifted a pre-release sample of his latest IB – RAGE! Its just over 2 years Pinot Noir cask , NMS sourced from a NSW distillery and barley is 100% Voyager Craft Malt!! NSW for the win!
Colour; is deep redgum.
Nose; ABV forward but extremely fragrant. Herbaceous and fruity, hints of blackberry and white pepper. Touches or caramel and slight hints of vanilla.
Palate; Wow! It is deceptive. Light on the tongue but then spreads to an orchestra of fuits and spices and chocolates. Spicy yet sweet. Caramelled Blackberry, Dutch liquorice and tobacco.
Finish; Medium – Long. Super intense yet warming and familiar. Oak wood, tannins, deeper caramel and dark chocolate over vanilla custard.
RAGE! Has a lot going on. It is big bold and in your face. But it is also well balanced and really warming. For the price I will buy another. Maybe even two.