If you’re a fan of whisky, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not dipping your toes into the Australian whisky waters. We make some truly delicious, complex spirits Down Under, some to even rival the big global names.
First up, a little lesson in whisky (or whiskey, which as you’ll find below is spelled differently for a reason).
What Is The Difference Between Whisky And Whiskey?
You’ll find whisky sometimes spelled with an “e”, which might leave you feeling confused—do some distilleries just like the alternate spelling? Chances are, no. Technically, “whisky” is the correct spelling for Canadian, Japanese and Scottish products, which are usually of the scotch variety (more on that later). “Whiskey” is the right spelling for American and Irish products.
What Is The Difference Between Scotch And Bourbon?
It gets even more confusing when you break it down to scotch and bourbon. Scotch is whisky made in Scotland and is based on fermented barley or a mix of grains. Bourbon is only classified as bourbon if it’s based on at least 51 per cent fermented corn, and technically only if it’s made in the United States. Bourbon tends to be sweeter than scotch, with notes like vanilla, while Scotch is usually described as smoky or spicy. Then there’s Rye Whiskey, which has to be made of at least 51 per cent fermented rye. Phew! What’s most important is working out what kind of notes and aromas you like.
When it comes to Australian whisky, you’ll find delicious creations influenced by bourbon, scotch and rye. Below, check out our favourite drops.
David Vitale, the man behind Starward, spent years discovering the best Australian barley, barrels and climate to make his whisky. The Solera Single Malt ($139.99) won the Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2021 and is described by Starward as “rich and well balanced”, with notes of jammy fruits, creme brûlée and spice.
Stunning bottle aside, this single malt whisky from Nant ($169.99) is warm and inviting, with notes of cinnamon, raisins and licorice making it the perfect nightcap during cooler months. Matured in Australian port style casks, this whisky won the Double Gold Medal at the China Wine & Spirits Awards in both 2018 and 2019.
Corowa Distillery is behind this easy-drinking single malt ($94.99) that has lovely floral characters along with spice and berries, with a honeycomb aroma. Using a blend of American, French, and Hungarian wine casks for maturation, this is a great whisky for anyone starting their venture into the spirit.
Using 100 per cent Western Australian grains, this whiskey ($93.99) is an Aussie take on well-rounded bourbons. The delicious notes of vanilla, dark toffee and hints of nutmeg give it a creamy texture, and for those who love a whiskey with cred, it’s won a whole slew of awards including Silver at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards 2021, and Best international corn whiskey from the American Distilling Institute.
This unique whisky is drawn from just twelve small American oak casks, this whisky by Launceston Distillery ($155.99) is double distilled and non-chill filtered to retain its depth. Expect subtle bourbon notes like vanilla, honey and green fruits, a clean and light finish and aromas of pear, honey and vanilla.
Renowned as one of the world’s leading beer experiences, GABS brings together the best breweries from Australia and New Zealand for a whirlwind celebration of craft beer, including 117 brand new festival beers brewed exclusively for GABS—you can’t find anywhere else in the world.
GABS packs in 20,000 enthusiasts to the Melbourne edition, yet it is still one the best-kept secrets in Sydney, and with the new owners being local, they want to change that.
This year’s big news is a move from Sydney Olympic Park to the ICC in Darling Harbour and the addition of an early evening Friday session for city-goers.
Whilst there are over 700 taps to choose from, GABS is not only all about the beer. There are wine, gin and whiskey stands and a hefty lineup of activities to accompany all that sipping, too, which will span a silent disco, roaming jazz bands, circus and sideshow performers, games and panels with industry leaders, as well as delicious food options to line your stomach.