Drinks Digest whisky editor David Fuller had the pleasure of spending last Saturday evening “sharing the whisky love” at the Virtual Aussie Whisky Show, delivered by The Whisky Show in partnership with The Whisky List.
This year’s Aussie Virtual Show theme was “Looking Forward” and featured 10 Australian whisky distillers from NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
With a focus on new and soon-to-be-released whiskies, it was a great way for attendees and viewers to get a sneak peak at what’s to come for the Australian whisky scene during the two-hour livestream event.
“We’re absolutely stoked with the positive feedback and engagement with this year’s Virtual Aussie Whisky Show live broadcast,” said David Ligoff, founder The Whisky Show.
“The local distillers who each presented a unique whisky during the two-hour session were very open in sharing their plans for the future, and it’s great to see the high level of interaction and knowledge sharing within the industry. Australian whisky is growing at a phenomenal pace and was great to showcase some of Australia’s highest quality whisky currently being produced.
“Most of the whiskies we had on sample are nearing or have fully sold out in our app post show, which highlights the great demand for more Aussie made whisky. It was such a pleasure for our entire team to have played a role in helping whisky lovers in Australia expand their palates and try something locally made. We can’t wait for next year!”
Sipping our way through the Virtual Aussie Whisky Show
Our anticipation for the event rose when – a few days prior – we received an impressive tasting kit of 19 samples via courier. More than 2200 people tuned in across Facebook, Youtube and the Show app.
The mammoth tasting was divided into two one-hour sessions: first, the mainland distillers – Iniquity, Headland, Flerieu, Morris, 5 Nines and Bakery Hill. The second hour was for the Tasmanian distilleries – Spring Bay, Overeem, The Remnant and Hobart Distillery.
While the kit had two samples from each distillery, we only had enough time to taste one sample from each. It’s a tough job but someone had to do it!
We began our tasting with a sample of South Australia’s Iniquity’s Gold Batch 6, which came in at a mighty 60.7% ABV. Unsurprisingly, this was a big whisky, noted by one taster to deliver warmth without heat with tasting notes of sherry, cedar and marmalade. Our verdict: delicious.
Our second tasting came from the newly emerging Headlands Distilling in North Wollongong via their Bourbon Cask Strength at 58% ABV. This had wonderful caramel overtones with slight peaty notes. Of interest, Headlands also make an indigenous Illawarra Plum liqueur.
Tasting three was a work in progress – “Whisky de Garde” – from South Australia’s Fleurieu Distillery, with an impressive 63.3% ABV and which master distiller Gareth Andrews noted would reach it’s peak in 2026. The whisky is matured in wood from both sides of the world using Spanish PX casks and Australian oloroso. This was another big mouthful of salted caramel and vanilla with notes of sherry. Make a note in your calendar for 2026!
The fourth tasting was from the Morris Distillery from Rutherglen, Victoria. Many will know Morris for its excellent fortified wines, and it was no surprise that we tasted the excellent “Muscat Cask” release. We noted flavours of fig, sweet malt, vanilla and spices with creamy mouth feel with an oak driven and long finish.
Our fifth tasting was a special preview of Melbourne’s Bakery Hill Special Release Sherry Finish. This was a very enjoyable tasting with lots of information about whisky making in Australia. For example, Australian whisky matures at twice the rate of Scottish whisky’s due to differences in weather and temperature. Bakery Hill are all single cask – as no tree is the same. This was a bourbon barrel whisky, finished in sherry casks and was a true “Bakers’ Delight”. It was a very approachable whisky at 48% ABV and was more subtle than many of the ”sherry bombs” out there.
Our final mainland tasting came from David Pearse of Adelaide Hills based 5Nines Distilling. Why 5Nines? Because 99.999% is as close to perfection as you can get. Our tasting from them came in the form of a unique Cola Cask Whisky. This playful whisky was designed to evoke youthful memories of drinking whisky and cola. A French oak cask was filled with 200 litres of cola for three months, emptied and then filled with ex bourbon barrel whisky and put down for eight months. This was an enjoyable taste of caramel, butter, chocolate and vanilla with strong notes of cola on the finish.
The Tasmanian experience
For the second hour we moved to Tasmanian distilleries which led off with Overeem’s Floc Shots Batch #2. A quick explanation of flocculation or floc – this is a mixture of chemical compounds like fatty acids that can clump together at low temperatures, creating a cloudiness or haze in the whiskey (sometimes called “smoke in the bottle”). Most whisky makers remove this by chill filtering the barrel with the floc then discarded. However Overeem decided to capture all the flavour
inherent in the floc and use it to create a small batch whisky which one of the tasters appropriately described as whisky butter with a very creamy mouth feel.
Next up was one of my personal favourites, Hobart Distillery previewing a cask sample of Tawny Port Matured / Batch Nº: 21-005 at 51.1% ABV. This whisky was matured in a tawny cask with resultant delicious mix of bourbon, vanilla and caramel characteristics.
Our third whisky was presented by one of the fathers of Australian whisky – the irrepressible Peter Bignell representing The Remnant Whisky Company’s appropriately named The Lockdown. The Remnant Whisky Company is an independent bottling company based at Belgrove Distillery and using whisky purchased from a local distillery recently involved in the Australian whisky industry’s biggest scandal. Our tasting notes revealed a very smooth Tasmania style whisky with notes of toffee and marmalade.
The final tasting was from Spring Bay Distillery – Virgin American Oakat 58% ABV, which is an experiment using virgin oak for maturation. We found this to be a delicious whisky with notes of vanilla slice and pina colada. A great whisky to finish on.
The session ended with a discussion about Tasmania Whisky Week, from August 9-15, which will also be offering several virtual events.
The Virtual Aussie Whisky Show was not only enjoyable but also proves the very healthy state of Australian whisky sector
and we will be visiting as many of these distilleries as possible as soon as lockdown ends!
You can watch the livestream recording here: