5 top shelf Aussie whiskies
It really is an extraordinary time to be a whisky lover in Australia. The ever-increasing melange of craft distilleries creating truly world-class spirits means we’re not only spoilt for choice, but also for quality. Here are 5 incredible Aussie whiskies that show just how good we’ve got it.
From that moment back in 1992, when Bill Lark reignited the flame beneath the still of Australian craft spirits, the quality of whisky being made here just keeps going up and up.
Alongside that ever-increasing quality, our expectations also grow; one lifting the other.
And this is where the agility of craft distilling really comes to the fore. Innovation and creativity are what craft distillers crave. As a result, Australian whisky is a constantly evolving landscape of bottled genius.
Here are five pinnacle Australian whiskies that any whisky enthusiast would dream of owning.
No premium Australian whisky list is complete without including something from Lark Distillery, and not just because Bill Lark’s contributions to the industry have earned him the deserved title of the ‘godfather of Australian craft distilling’.
Bill’s whiskies are always superbly made and his Cask Strength Single Malt is a prime example of that.
Rich cinnamon and nutmeg spices on the nose lead into a wonderful vanilla, Christmas cake and citrus balance on first sip. Oak, toffee and a touch of Tasmanian peat then take the lead and carry you on to a blissfully long finish.
Direct from Bill’s Coal River location and maintaining its high ABV as it was barrelled at, this is a fine whisky for the true connoisseur.
A stone’s throw from the grand sweeping Victorian coastline and the Twelve Apostles, Timboon Distillery and the surrounding region is steeped in distilling history.
Indeed, owner-distiller Josh Walker has named this mighty whisky after a notorious police officer back in the 1880s - Inspector John Christie - who worked tirelessly to shut down illicit bootleggers.
Christie’s Cut and its navy-strength ABV is a remarkable whisky. Aged in 45 litre ex-port casks, this warm gold spirit displays notes of charred raisins, smoke and spice, and a delightfully long finish.
Rather than heating the whisky, the high ABV seems to somehow smooth it out. This artfully crafted dram is true testament to Josh’s undeniable skills.
From behind the doors of one of Australia’s oldest existing pastoral holdings (the buildings date back between 1819 and the 1850s) comes a rare and wonderful whisky.
Elixir of Life is the product of the same loving care and dedication distiller-owners David and Anna Kernke have put into restoring the 200-year-old Gothic Revivalist stable, coachhouse and tack room, and Georgian sandstone homestead.
Aged first in small 20-litre Australian apera (sherry) casks then to Spanish oak ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks from Andalusia, the intense flavours of this whisky stay in the mouth long after the first sip.
Belgrove Distillery is a unique place indeed. Enigmatic distiller-owner Peter Bignell is passionate about sustainability and as a result, Belgrove is arguably the greenest distillery in the world.
Peter’s Oat Whisky - like many of his spirits - is a grain-to-glass product as he grows his own, which he ferments to turn into whisky in his biofuel-fired handmade copper still.
And as Peter has complete control over every single aspect of his whisky, the result is quite remarkable.
This amber-gold whisky gives aromas of baked strawberries, buttery pastry and bitter orange liqueur. The palate has rich oaty honey flavours, full of cinnamon and brown sugar with sharp highlights of crushed cranberries and sugared citrus.
The finish brings burnt toffee and sweet chocolate espresso all held up by a indulgently high ABV.
With a name like Hobart Whisky, it’s probably no surprise that this small family-run distillery is in the centre of Tasmania’s capital. What is a surprise is how few know about it.
Almost codewords for the real whisky aficionado, Hobart Whisky and Devil’s Distillery reward those in the know with superbly smooth, warming whiskies.
Limited releases display myriad flavours from creative cask finishing, while the distillery’s flagship - the Signature Single Malt - carries the spirit of the distillery in its deep golden arms.
Aged in small carefully selected American oak ex-bourbon casks, this whisky reveals exciting fruit-driven notes cushioned with vanilla and baked ricotta.
The sweetness and spice from the bourbon barrels works a duet with the light oak and rich malt of Tasmanian barley.