Whisky Done Down Under The Australian Way - The Whiskey Wash

Whisky Done Down Under The Australian Way

Whisk(e)y is truly a worldwide spirit, as it is currently distilled on every continent, excluding Antarctica (they do distill vodka at Vernadsky Research Base). As such, most of the readers, including myself, have likely drank whisk(e)y from all of the major whisk(e)y producing regions: Scotland, the United States, Canada, Ireland, and Japan. I am willing to bet that many here have even strayed farther afield in their search for an exciting new bottle to add to their back bar. I can happily say that I, too, am nowhere near the end of my whisk(e)y adventure.

When given the task of penning a piece for this publication I was asked to write specifically about Australian whisky. I’ve sold whisk(e)y from each of the major regions now for long enough to realize that this was a part of the whisk(e)y world I had only read about in articles briefly mentioning smaller “up and coming” areas. I needed to know much more.

It seems that the Land Down Under has been up to some good things, and the Australians distilling malt whisky seem to have truly caught the world’s attention. The largest concentration of distilleries is primarily located in the southeast corner of the continent, and the number one area is on the island of Tasmania. My first thought after learning this is a flashback to my beloved Saturday morning cartoons and the crazy comical Taz the Tasmanian Devil character. It seems strange….Tasmania and whisky? Really?

Sullivan's Cove American Oak

Indeed it has been the case that this little island has been releasing a storm of great whiskies. In 2014, the World Whiskies Awards awarded the Tasmanian distillery Sullivans Cove the “World’s Best Single Malt” for their Tasmanian Single Malt French Oak Single Cask. This double pot distilled, single malt whisky, according to the distillery, is “handcrafted from 100% local barley and the world’s purest water and aged in 300L French oak ex-tawny barrels in the rare Tasmanian climate.” With flavors of Christmas spice, chocolate, dried fruit and oak, and bottled at 47.5% ABV, this sounds like it has moved to the top of my next-bottle-to-locate list.

Then there are the new rye distillers like Belgrove (just awarded Whisky Magazine Icons of Whisky 2019 Australian Craft Producer of the Year), with their Peated Rye Whisky that’s described as “almost an ongoing science experiment.” Their many different offerings range from Shiraz Cask Finished to their Wholly Sh!t bottling that is smoked with sheep’s manure from the estate’s sheep. Belgrove is an estate producer, meaning everything happens right there on site, from growing the grain to filling the bottle. They also are said to have the only biodiesel fueled still in the world.

Even Bakery Hill in North Bayswater, Victoria, has received its fair share of accolades from some of the most prominent critics, being named, for example, the “Best Small Distillery in the World” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible as far back as 2005. They produce a classic style single malt in both peated and non-peated single cask releases.

It doesn’t seem like our whisky drinking friends in the Land Down Under are going to be going anywhere soon, as popularity for whisky from here continues to grow. To me, this signifies there is indeed a place at the table for more of the new regions to sit alongside the world’s traditional top whisky producers.