After four years, whisky made inside the small East End bar his now available for purchase.
Ask any distiller and they’ll tell you whisky is a product of its environment.
A delicate mix of science and art is used to get the best possible taste out of the fermented caramel-coloured tipple.
So when the team at Nola started producing whisky within the walls of their New Orleans-inspired small bar, they knew the venue would play a big part in the ageing process.
“It gets all of its flavour and colour from the barrels themselves, and the humidity, the vibrations from the music playing, and everything kind of contributes to how we aged it,” Nola co-owner Oliver Brown tells CityMag.
“We wanted to put these barrels on the back bar and kind of capture the essence of Nola in something that was uniquely our own.”
Nola teamed with The Exchange four years ago to age whisky inside the small bar.
They got their hands on three old Seppeltsfield port barrels, which were each filled with 16 litres of local spirits.
The Nola crew blended some whiskies from the bar and aged others from local Tin Shed and McLaren Vale distilleries.
After hundreds of tastings and hours of watching over their creations, Nola’s four distinct whiskies have hit the market.
There’s blended American and Scottish whiskies made from a mix of Nola’s spirits, as well as Tin Shed and McLaren Vale distillery single malts.
“Australia and South Australia have such an emerging whisky scene and we’re pushing the boundaries and we see this as our kind of addition to that world,” Oliver says.
For the last part of the ageing process, the barrels were moved into the cellar at the neighbouring Stag Hotel.
Oliver says the finished product is “like nothing else in the world”, but acknowledges there was a lot of trial and error in getting to this point.
“You don’t know how the spirit’s going to react to the barrels, or its environment, and so you have to keep looking back in,” he says.
“Different temperatures and different humidities will start having an effect on how much actually evaporates out of the barrels. You can end up with nothing if you’re not careful.
“For us, getting over that three-year mark, which allowed us to call it whisky, and then picking it at the right spot so it’s at one of those peaks, was really important.”
Nola enlisted the help of four local artists to each design labels for the Nola whisky range. Dave Court, Vans the Omega, Kyle Woodman and Bella McRae were tasked with bringing their unique style to each bottle.
She used a saddle tan cowhide, custom embossing and saddle stitching for her American whisky label.
“I wanted to lean a little into a nostalgic Americana aesthetic,” she says.
“It’s a little bit cowboy all in all, while the gold foiling and bold purple edge paint I’ve used is a subtle nod to the vibrancy of New Orleans.”
Dave says he also drew inspiration for his label from the energy of the New Orleans nightlife.
“For my one, I did a kind of abstract, painty swirl and I put some stars in there, which I actually lifted from a shopfront or old house in New Orleans that had this wild paint job, and these stars were part of the decoration on the front of the building,” the artist says.
“I really wanted it to demonstrate this party, high-energy movement vibe.”
Oliver says it was important to have a different artist representing each whisky, as every bottle was unique.
“For us, whisky is art and we look at every bottle as something completely unique,” he says.
“No bottle is the same, no barrel is the same, and for us using local artists and a different expression on the front was to kind of align with how we view whisky being very individual.”
Place of originNola’s limited whisky series hits shelves