300 Years in Waiting...

Hicks and Healey Cornish WhiskyThe first malt whiskey (please note – not whisky!) to come out of Cornwall in over 300 years has arrived – and already it's gaining rave reviews.

Described by leading whisky writer Jim Murray as, "near faultless & almost beautiful beyond words", Hicks & Healey Cornish Whiskey is the result of a collaboration between head brewer Roger Ryman of St Austells brewery & David Healey of Healey's Cider Farm.

The Cornish-grown barley which goes to make the whiskey is first malted & fermented at St Austells before being sent to Healey's to be distilled in their 1200 litre copper pot still, the smallest in England.

This first release, which is limited to 150 cask-strength bottles, is described as having, "notes of spice, honey and barley combined with delicate fruits and hints of cocoa and caramel before a late vanilla finish".

St Austells, which can trace its roots back to 1851, when founder Walter Hicks began supplying malt to local St Austell brewers, is one of the largest private companies in Cornwall, with more than 170 pubs throughout the Duchy. By contrast Healey's copper still was only commissioned in 2000, at first making cider brandy, before moving onto whiskey seven years ago.

Whether it's 300 years or seven, as David Healey says, "in Cornwall we like to take our time in order to get things right – and it’s well worth the wait".

61.3%, 50cl/£150; available from Healey's Cyder Farm, St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre, and online at www.healeyscyder.co.uk & www.staustellbreweryshop.co.uk

Update: the first bottle of Hicks & Healey to be produced is to be auctioned for charity on eBay.

Signed by the producers of the whiskey, the proceeds from the auction will go to help the work of the Cornwall Community Foundation and the St Austell Brewery Charitable Trust.

As I write, with four days of the auction still to run, the charity bottling, which would normally retail for £150, has already more than doubled that amount.