Starward and Sullivan’s Cove Australian Whiskeys Win Prestigious Global Awards
If the recent World Whiskey Awards season was anything to go by, Australia punches well above its weight despite being a relative newcomer to the industry.
- Australian craft whiskey distillers have won two major awards this year
- For the first time this year, an Australian whiskey delegation attended the spiritEurope congress
- There are calls for Australian whiskey to be produced under strict geographical and manufacturing regulations
The latest Australian craft whiskey to wow the world is Victoria-based distiller Starward, who won Distillery of the Year at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in June 2022.
Starward was the first Australian distillery to win the highest honor in the event’s 22-year history, beating nearly 5,000 of the world’s most renowned spirits.
Australian Distillers Association boss Paul McLeary said Australian craft whiskey distillers should be proud of how far the industry has come.
“This is the first time an Australian spirits producer has won this category, meaning they were the best overall in the world’s most prestigious spirits competition,” Mr McLeary said.
Mr McLeary was part of an Australian delegation of 13 industry representatives who attended spiritsEurope for the first time this year.
The event was held in Dublin last month and brought together industry leaders to discuss solutions to issues affecting the spirits sector.
The Australian group visited major distilleries in Ireland and Scotland as part of a fact-finding mission to help returnee whiskey distillers gain access to the global whiskey market.
Australia’s secret to success
Australia had been producing whiskey for 30 years and was now attracting the attention of the world’s top spirits connoisseurs.
Mr McLeary said the country’s success was down to passion or craft distillers.
“Australian whiskey is a true farm-to-glass story…the distillers will tell you exactly which farm the grain came from, what drop of water went into it, exactly what cask it matured in, they can even tell you provenance, something global. Giants can’t,” he said.
The manager of Sullivans Cove Distillery in Tasmania, Heather Tillott, was still buzzing this week after winning the prestigious title of Craft Distiller of the Year at the World Whiskeys Awards in March.
This gong was another first for Australia.
Ms Tillott said modern methods based on expert knowledge and distillation techniques derived from 300 years of Scottish distillation were part of the product’s success.
“However, I think, honestly, what really underpins the current modern era of distilling in Australia is that quintessentially Aussie, ‘having a crack attitude’.”
Whiskey following the wine industry
The number of Australian distilleries has grown from just two 30 years ago to 350 today, more than two-thirds of which are based in rural and regional areas.
Steve Timmis runs Fossey’s, a boutique gin, whiskey and vodka distillery in Mildura, Victoria and said Australian whiskey was at the same stage as the Australian wine industry was 40 years ago.
Need for specific Australian regulations
Global spirits and wine brands had to comply with strict regulations and global geographic indicators.
A perfect example of this was the use of champagne which could only be used to describe sparkling wine produced in the Champagne wine region of France.
Likewise, Scotch whiskey should only be distilled in Scotland.
Mr Timmis said Australia was only at the start of this journey and there was a need to regulate Australian distillation.
However, he hoped that too much regulation would not “diminish the Australian spirit”.
“But similarly, if it has the term Australian whiskey on it, we need it to be of a particular standard.
“With Australian whiskey protruding its weight on the world stage and local consumers tasting the unique flavor and craftsmanship that goes into Australian whisky, the future for our local craft distilleries is bright.”
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