Australia’s pre-eminent whisky maker Lark Distilling Co. has recently added another addition to its Rare Cask stable with the Tokay 100 release in collaboration with one of Australia’s oldest wineries, Seppeltsfield. Aged in ex-Tokay casks from 1922, the Tokay 100 is the perfect gift for Dad to apologise for bringing the Brazillian backpacker you met three weeks ago to Christmas lunch where her ‘summer attire’ caused Grandpa to have a mild stroke.
Fitting snuggly beside the Para 50 and Para 100 Rare Cask Releases, the Tokay 100 likewise utilises Lark’s close relationship with Seppeltsfield Winery in the Barossa Valley. Founded just 15 years after European Settlement of South Australia, Seppeltsfield commands the rare distinction of being the only winery in the world to release a 100-year-old single vintage wine each year, with stocks of the Centennial Collection remaining unbroken dating back to 1878.
Lark master distiller Chris Thompson says, “Our relationship with Seppeltsfield Winery has opened the door to some of the rarest fortified wine in the world., and we discovered and sniffed out these Tokay casks from Seppeltsfield’s treasure trove of museum fortifieds in the Barossa. They have nurtured and matured Seppeltsfield’s fortified sweet Muscadelle, resulting in an intense and powerful whisky infusion.”
But wait…isn’t Tokay (Tokaji) a Hungarian sweet wine made from the Fermint grape varietal, not Muscadelle? Just like Australian ‘Sherry’ is now known as Apera, similarly Australian ‘Tokay’ is now known at Topaque. When the Australia–European Community Agreement on Trade in Wine commenced on September 2010, Australia relinquished the use of numerous protected terms in exchange for enhanced access to the European market. A ten-year transition period was negotiated to allow winemakers to rebrand and exhaust stock, which explains why you might still see the odd bottle floating around.
AOCs and naming rights were far from their imagination when these casks were laid down in 1922, and it’s the rich and savoury profile developed over 100 years that compliments the Lark distillate so well. That signature Lark butterscotch and citrus is still apparent, but it’s evolved into toffee and apricot marmalade, all of it tied together with familiar big whisky notes that recall Christmas cake, including raisins, marzipan, and creamy coffee. At 57.5% ABV this is far from your summer sipper over a rock; best bought now and left to a roaring fire in a few months, preferably as an accomplice on a trip to Tassie.
As Lark founder Bill Lark states, “Every distiller is looking for something unique…that point of difference.” With only a scattered few of the 934 bottles still available and given the lineage of the liquid, whether you’re looking for a special bottle to drink or hold, Lark’s Tokay 100 fits that description perfectly.