HOW LIMEBURNERS SINGLE MALT WHISKY is crafted
Our mission is to make the best spirits in the world, and with this goal in mind Founder and Master Distiller Cameron Syme settled on Albany, within the Great Southern, as the location for his single malt whisky distillery.
The Great Southern region produces world class grain, while Albany boasts a relatively cool and maritime climate - perfect for aging Australian whisky. It's the ideal temperature balance for maturation, enough heat for the whisky to mature over time but cool enough for a gentle extraction of flavours.
As doors open to the distillery each morning that sea breeze doesn’t hurt either, allowing the barrels to breathe in the fresh, mildly salty air.
The Limeburners ageing process generally begins in 200-litre second-fill ex-bourbon American oak, typically sourced from American bourbon producers including Jack Daniels, Heaven Hills, Woodford Reserve, and Four Roses. We also use our own second fill Tiger Snake casks.
Cameron and Limeburners Head Distiller Ben Kagi firmly believe these casks are the perfect gentle start to the aging process, permitting the quality of the raw ingredients to shine. To elevate certain expressions, some whiskies will undergo a second maturation, adding additional complexity, richness and elegance. Australian fortified wines, particularly Port and Sherry, are staple casks within our core collection. However we also like to experiment with rarer casks such as Muscat, Beer, and Rum for our special edition Directors Cut releases.
Barley is sourced from the Great Southern region, and other coastal areas of the South of Western Australia, which produces some of the richest grain in the world.
We work with a variety of approved malting barley strains including Baudin, Gairdner and Stirling, which are malted in Western Australia to pale malt specifications.
But our goal, and part of our ethos of continuous improvement, is to operate our own sustainable malting plant from our distillery in Porongurup. Pilot batches have been prepared, and our malting plant will be fully operational by June 2021.
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation or organic matter unique to its geographical location. It is a rare resource within Australia, but one that we’re lucky enough to have access to locally. Fortunately, the local farmer of the land happens to be a big fan of our whisky, and we barter bottles of whisky in exchange for loads of peat.
This bog (swamp) comprises eons old Australian botanicals, which scientists tell us date back to the time of the dinosaurs. This peat is sustainably collected then dried before finally being placed into our peat smoker at our distillery in Albany. There, we smoke the malted barley to infuse the peat reek (or smoke) into the grain.
Once we have our hands on some top quality malted barley, the grain is milled to a specific coarse flour consistency (grist). The grist enters our custom built 2,500 litre mash tun and we sparge water at a temperature of 65 degrees before allowing it to stand for an hour. This is followed with an additional two sparges of fresh water at 80 degrees. Meanwhile the mash is stirred, helping to convert the starches to sugar.
We then separate the spent grain from the liquid, with the result a sweet sugar solution called wort (pronounced ‘wurt’). This is extracted and cooled down to 20 degrees before pitching the yeast to initiate the fermentation process. The spent grains are provided to local farmers as cattle feed to avoid waste.
For Limeburners, we ferment our mashes in closed stainless fermenters called ‘washbacks’. We use a relatively long fermentation process of between 4 to 7 days. This permits the development of additional floral and other complex flavours toward the end of the fermentation process.
The living yeast feeds on the sugars in the wort, producing alcohol and small quantities of other compounds known as congeners, which contribute to the flavour of the whisky. The result is a fermented ‘wash’ of approximately 8.5% abv. The wash is distilled twice - first in our 1,800 litre wash still, to separate the alcohol from the water, yeast and any solids. The result of the first distillation are called the ‘low wines’, and are usually around 28% abv. The low wines are then distilled a second time through our traditional 1,000 litre copper pot still and this is where the ‘art’ of distilling really comes into play.
The distiller uses all of their skill to know precisely where to cut the spirits. This is done in three segments, only one of which is collected for final consumption.
The heart, the middle cut at about 68% abv, is the pure centre cut and is the ‘new make’ spirit which enters our American oak barrels for the optimal maturation period.
This is just one of the many elements that make Limeburners Whisky so consistently superior - the knowledge and experience of our expert distilling team, led by Cameron and Ben, who know precisely where to cut the spirit and for how long to age it.
Our distillers are regularly testing our Whiskies (the hardest part of the job) and transferring them from barrel to bottle only when they are ready. As always, our team adopts an approach of being ‘in pursuit of excellence’.