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…
Summer fruits, wheat, oats.
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.
Iodine, charcoal, leather
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…
Vanilla, cloves, dried rose petals.
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…
Light spice, preserved fruits, macadamia nuts.
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.
Almond, toasted malt, lemon zest.
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!