My Top 5 Favourite Australian Whiskies

 

If you’re like me and love to drink a whisky or seven, then you’re probably aware that Australia is coming up with some world class stuff at the moment. Several of our homegrown distilleries have won a number of internationally coveted awards, such as those presented at the World Whisky Awards and the San Francisco World Sprits Competition.

 

Australian whisky is something to be immensely proud of at the moment. So here are five of my personal favourites that I think you should definitely try to seek out for yourself at some point.

 

For the sake of a small disclaimer… It’s worth noting that this list is presented in no particular order, and that all tasting notes are my subjective opinion. Therefore they might seem flat out wrong or bizarre to you. I suppose that’s the fun of drinking whisky though, there are no incorrect answers here!

 

 

Top Five Australian Whiskies:

 

Great Southern Distillery – Limeburners Cask Strength Single Malt (61%) – WA

 

First up off the rank we have a great cask strength Australian whisky… Located in Albany, the Great Southern Distillery is one of the first to emerge in Western Australia and has made quite an impact right from the get go. The barley used for each malt is sourced directly from fields in the surrounding regions – which are internationally renowned for yielding some of the finest grain in the world.

 

The barrels used by the distillery are typically individual selected American bourbon or Australian sherry, port or tokay. Many of the whiskies are single batch distilled in 100 litre casks – the Cask Strength Single Malt included…

 

Punching in at a powerful 61% alcohol by volume, the Cask Strength packs quite the punch. With this in mind, the drinking experience is surprisingly smooth and intensely enjoyable after the initial heat. I get a rich creamy flavour that is complimented by an odd biscuity after taste. This lingers for quite some time, as you can still taste elements of the whisky several minutes after you’ve taken your last sip. One to take your time on or possibly enjoy with a dab of ice or water…

Aroma

Summer fruits, wheat, oats.

Palate 

Creamy, lingering bite, biscuits.

 

 

Bakery Hill – Peated Malt (46%) – VIC 

 

Next up is a healthy bit of smoke… I don’t know about you but I’m an absolute fiend for peated whiskies, and Bakery Hill’s Peated Malt sets the Australian bar very high. Distilled in the foothills of the Dandenong ranges, this dram has a certain medicinal dryness to it with distinctive flavours of tobacco, peat and charcoaled citrus fruits – there is also a small touch of spice and nuttiness to be found on the finish.

 

Since each expression of Bakery Hill whisky is taken directly from a single cask (and is bottled at cask strength in most cases), each batch will be slightly different and truly unique. It’s suggested that a couple of drops of water be added to each dram for maximum enjoyment, as this will open up the whisky and allow that rich peaty goodness to shine through.

Aroma 

Iodine, charcoal, leather

Palate 

Burnt orange, vanilla, tobacco leaves

 

 

Old Hobart Distillery – Overeem Port Cask Matured (43%) – TAS

 

Overeem whisky was born humbly from a small scale garage distilling hobby, but has since risen to become one of Tasmania’s most celebrated and sought after drams. Overeem uses locally made copper pot stills to produce a small batch and full flavoured selection of whisky – typically aged in either American of French oak barrels that have once been filled with sherry or port.

 

With this in mind, Overeem’s Port Cask Matured whisky is one of my favourite Australian whiskies to enjoy on a cold Winter night, as it has a wonderful warming fruitcake flavour to it – with just a hint of spice and nut on the finish. This is due to the fact that it has been aged exclusively is ex port barrels. If you’re a fan of whiskies such as The Glendronach 18, then this is definitely one for you to try…

Aroma

Vanilla, cloves, dried rose petals.

Palate

Fruitcake, toasted cinnamon, dark chocolate.

 

 

New World Whisky – Starward Wine Cask (41%) – VIC

 

Hailing from the inner suburbs of Melbourne (essentially within an airfield), the New World Whisky distillery has burst into both the Australian and international whisky scenes. Since their small beginnings in 2004, New World Whisky has produced several award winning drams including their classic Starward Single Malt and wine cask matured whisky. The latter of which has become one of my go to drams after a long shift at the bar…

 

This delicious whisky is aged primarily in individually selected Australian wine barrels that have recoopered and hand charred. It is then finished for a short amount of time in local ex shiraz wine barrels. Whilst the original source of the wine barrels is kept secret, they’re said to be from one of South Australia’s most celebrated wine houses. This is no surprise at all, as the wine characteristics of the whisky are truly phenomenal. On the nose you’re greeted by light spice, grapes and notes of preserved fruit – with the influence of the shiraz becoming immediacy apparent. The first sip is quite dry, with flavours of raisins, marzipan and oak shining through. You’ll notice some wine tannins in there too.

Aroma 

Light spice, preserved fruits, macadamia nuts.

Palate

Raisins, marzipan, oak dryness.

 

 

Personally, I prefer this expression over their flagship Starward Single Malt, as I feel like it has a little bit more going on flavour wise. This is just me though, and I would encourage you to give them both a try as these guys are producing some great Australian whiskies.

 

 

 

Hellyers Road – Single Malt Original 10 Year Old (46.2%) – TAS

 

Lucky last in our list of amazing Aussie whiskies is the 10 year old from Hellyers Road. Aged in individually selected charred American oak casks, this non chill filtered dram is an excellent one to finish on.

 

Aged for 10 years in ex-bourbon barrels, this Australian whisky represents the first aged statement expression from the distillery. What a way to kick things off… When tasting this whiskey you’re immediately hit by a warm toasty aroma with strong notes of grain and citrus. Unusually enough, it seems to remind me of Weet Bix cereal… Which is by no means a bad thing! Taste wise, you get a bright and cleansing combination of vanilla, citrus, almonds, and grain. Best enjoyed by itself in my opinion, although an ice cube or two would also work quite nicely.

Aroma

Almond, toasted malt, lemon zest.

Palate

Vanilla, cereal, citrus fruit.

 

 

 

So concludes our miniature journey through the world of Australian whiskies. If you want to learn more about any of the whiskies mentioned in the article, I’d recommend checking out the websites of the distilleries. They contain more information about production and tasting than I could possibly cover in a single post and are definitely worth checking out. There are even a couple of fun stories about the history of each distillery included in most cases. The best thing to do though would be to head out to your local whisky pedlar and give them a try for yourself. I know I had a blast doing so when I was researching (drinking) for this article…

 

Until next time, happy boozing!

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Rohan Fisher

Rohan is a Melbourne based mixology and coffee geek who earns his beer money working as a cocktail bartender. With a passion for great spirits, most nights inevitably lead to being perched at the bar (sometimes face down)…