Winners of Tasting Australia's 2018 Spirit Awards announced

More than 60 of the country's distillers took part

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Tasting Australia Spirit Awards entries

Tasting Australia Spirit Awards entries [©Daniel John Purvis]

Tasting Australia Spirit Awards bottles
Tasting Australia Spirit Awards, Bill Lark of Lark Distillery
Tasting Australia Spirit Awards party
Tasting Australia Spirit Awards Master Cask firing barrels

More than 60 of Australia’s finest distillers took part in Tasting Australia’s Spirit Awards presented by Master Cask with Southern Wild Distillery of Tasmania being named the country’s best.

The awards – which attracted more than 160 entries - kicked off the final weekend of the 10-day eating and drinking festival. The winners were announced at the Tasting Pavilion in Town Square on the 19th April,

Spirits across Australia were celebrated at the inaugural awards, with Australian distillers recognised for their ingenuity and energy.

Over two days, gin, whisky, vodka, rum, brandy and liqueurs were judged by an expert panel made up of Australia’s most reputable industry leaders.

Tasting Australia ambassador, wine critic and commentator Nick Stock led the judging process, along with the Godfather of Australian Whisky – Bill Lark (Lark’s Distillery in Tasmania), Seb Costello of Bad Frankie (Melbourne), Brooke Hayman of Whisky & Alement (Melbourne), founder of the Odd Whisky Coy – Graham Wright, South Australian Marcus Motteram (founder of Hains & Co), boutique wine and spirits distributor Mark Reginato, and Ollie Margan (co-owner of Maybe Mae) among others.

“This is the best competition of its type anywhere in the world,” Bill Lark said at the end of two days of judging.

“The quality of the judging experience, the organization and the integrity is something that Tasting Australia should be really proud of.”

The Tasting Australia Spirit Awards attracted more than 160 entries from 63 exhibitors from around the country. Spirits were carefully judged with the top exhibits for each category chosen after a consensus within the judging panel.

“The level of engagement and support from industry instilled on the judges a huge sense of responsibility. It’s our aim to make these awards the best of their kind in Australia and among the very best on the world stage,” Nick Stock said.

“The award winning spirits are extremely high quality examples of their type. 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.

“It’s no secret that this is the most exciting moment in the history of Australian distilling and the timing of these inaugural awards couldn’t be better.”

After two full days of judging, the panel determined clear winners for each spirit category:

  • 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 Distillery*: Southern Wild Distillery (Tas) for Dasher + Fisher Mountain Gin and Dasher + Fisher Sloe Gin
    *calculated from their top two scoring exhibits, one of which must be a gold medal winner

“The whiskys 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 fastgrowing commercial supply and demand pressure. It’s good constructive feedback to this section of the industry.” Stock said.

The Tasting Australia Spirit Award Winners for 2018 were celebrated during the Spirit Awards Party, an event open to the public, where guests could taste the top drops and meet the makers behind the bottles.

Note: each spirit was critically and quantitatively evaluated on its commercial excellence, quality attributes, and its trueness to type according to class and by percentage alcohol (%ABV). Using the internationally recognized 100-point scoring system, the spirits were assessed against five main criteria: Colour/Appearance, Nose, Palate, Balance and Finish. Each exhibit was presented neat at room temperature in XL5 glassware and judged on their own merits.

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May 23rd, 2018
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