Two South Australian distilleries were among the inaugural Tasting Australia Spirit Awards winners, which saw Tasmania’s Southern Wild Distillery take home the major prize.
More than 160 entries from 63 distillers were sipped and sifted through by a panel of expert judges with seven awards going to liquor makers across the country.
Two South Australian companies, Adelaide Hills Distillery (for The Italian) and St Agnes (for St Agnes XO Grand Reserve 40 Year Old), took home awards for Best Liqueur and Best Brandy. Victoria’s The Craft & Co picked up the Best Gin and Best Small Batch Spirit awards while White Light Beverages won the award for Best Vodka. Western Australian crew The Grove Distillery was judged Best Rum, while Southern Wild Distillery was voted Best Distiller.
The judging panel included Tasting Australia ambassador and wine critic Nick Stock, Tasmanian whiskey expert Bill Lark, Hot 100 Wines chief steward Mark Reginato, Brooke Hayman of Whisky & Alement, and Seb Costello, owner of Melbourne’s Bad Frankie among others.
“The award winning spirits are extremely high quality examples of their type,” Stock says in a release. “The judges gave a huge amount of consideration to each and every award and I think that’s reflected in the quality of the entries that have been recognised tonight.”
One notable omission from the night was no prize being given for Best Whisky, which Stock says simply came down to the panel’s rigorous judging, but hopes that the industry will take on the feedback.
“The whiskeys were given an extraordinary amount of attention and the judges decided that there was nothing of gold medal standard and really, their feeling is this reflects that whisky makers need to evolve their approach to maturation and balance that with some fast-growing commercial supply and demand pressure,” he says. “It’s good constructive feedback to this section of the industry.”
The Tasting Australia Spirit Awards took place over two days of the festival, representing an opportunity for distilleries from across the country to be recognised for their creativity and craft.
“This is the best competition of its type anywhere in the world,” Bill Lark says. “The quality of the judging experience, the organisation and the integrity is something that Tasting Australia should be really proud of.”
Across the competition’s two days exhibitors showcased their gin, whiskey, vodka, rum, brandy and liqueur providing a first class standard of spirits for judges to critique and award.
The event concluded with a Spirits Award Party, celebrating the winners of 2018 allowing the public to meet the distillers and taste Australia’s best spirits.
Full list of winners:
Best Rum Award: The Grove Distillery (WA), ‘The Grove Dark Rum’
Best Vodka Award: White Light Beverages (Vic), ‘White Light Vodka Original’
Best Liqueur Award: Adelaide Hills Distillery (SA), ‘The Italian’
Best Brandy Award: St Agnes Distillery (SA), ‘St Agnes XO Grand Reserve 40 Year Old”
Best Gin Award : The Craft & Co (Vic), ‘Acheron Gin’
Best Whisky Award: Not awarded
Other Spirits Award: Not awarded
The Tasting Australia Spirit Awards Best Small Batch Spirit: The Craft & Co (Vic), ‘Acheron Gin’
Tasting Australia Spirit Awards Best Distiller: Southern Wild Distillery (Tas), Dasher + Fisher Mountain Gin, Dasher + Fisher Sloe Gin (calculated from their top two scoring exhibits, one of which must be a gold medal winner)