Dan Murphy’s has unveiled the 19 winners in its inaugural Decoded Spirits Awards, including best gin, whisky and mezcal, with prices starting from $35.
More than 600 spirits were blind tasted by 10 judges over five days.
“Dan Murphy’s Decoded is all about identifying outstanding quality and value for money for customers in the spirits category,” said Dan Murphy’s Spirits Category Manager and Decoded Spirits judge James Duvnjak.
When COVID-restrictions were first imposed, many customers started making cocktails at home – and Duvnjak said trend remains strong.
“Customers are drinking less, but better, so making a delicious cocktail at home has become an event on a Friday or Saturday night. The ingredients are important; increasingly customers are looking for craft producers and innovative expressions of traditional spirits,” he added.
More than 300 of the 600 entries to Decoded Spirits were gin. NSW distillery Archie Rose’s Bone Dry Gin was named Best Australian Gin, while South Australian-made 23rd Distillery’s Violet Gin was Best Coloured Gin.
“Gin remains a customer favourite, and it’s great to see that Australian gin distillers are continuing to produce world-class drinks,” Duvnjak said.
Australian whisky is a rapidly growing category, with Dan Murphy’s having seen sales double in the last 12 months. Corowa Distilling was awarded Best Australian Whisky with its Characters Single Malt Whisky.
“Our whisky distillers have found a way to create a spirit that’s uniquely Australian, and they are now competing with the Irish and the Scotch on the world scene when it comes to quality whisky,” Duvnjak said.
“Rum is also having a renaissance, and Australian rums have really been stepping it up in the last few years,” he added.
West Australian distillery Illegal Tender’s Distiller’s Cut Rum was named best Australian rum.
However, agave spirits – which includes tequila and mezcal – is the fastest growing of all spirits categories for the leading drinks retailer.
“Mezcal is increasingly popular among customers thanks to its varying styles and different flavours,” Duvnjak said. “Whereas tequila has to be distilled in a specific region from only 100% Blue Weber agave, mezcal can be produced from many different types of agave and so the distillers can explore different styles and flavours outside the realms that Tequila can achieve.”
All the winners in the Decoded Spirits Awards will now be promoted in Dan Murphy’s stores across the country, which for some boutique producers like Illegal Tender Rum, Corowa Distilling and 23rd Distillery means that they have almost quadrupled the number of stores their products are ranged in thanks to their award.
“This means a lot to us as a distillery. 12 months ago, we were in 10 local Dan Murphy’s stores, and now with the opportunity to be ranged in almost 260 stores nationally, it is very exciting and at the same time daunting for us,” said Corowa Distilling Co’s Managing Director Dean Druce. “It is great to get recognition for the hard work and tireless hours we have put in over the years.
“The future looks bright for Australian whisky, which has enjoyed growth year on year ever since its inception 30 years ago. For Corowa Distilling co, we are increasing production and we are expanding our distillery experience to enable visiting customers to see the entire process from start to finish.”
Although this is the inaugural Dan Murphy’s Decoded Spirits Awards, Dan Murphy’s Decoded Wine awards are now in their third year.
All the winners in the Dan Murphy’s Decoded Spirits Awards 2022
Category: Australian Gin
Winner: Archie Rose Distilling Co. Bone Dry Gin Price: $89.99
Verdict: This is a superbly balanced gin, and unashamedly juniper-forward. Soft on the palate, but it has that clean, dry finish that all gin lovers chase.
Category: International Gin
Winner: Jawbox Small Batch Dry Gin Price: $64.99
Verdict: This small batch gin from Ireland was bursting with flavour, beautiful pepper and spice, all balanced on the backbone with Juniper. Fantastic drop!
Category: Coloured & Sloe Gin
Winner: 23rd Street Distillery Violet Gin Price: $80.99
Verdict: The Butterfly Pea flower gives this South Australian gin its beautiful ultraviolet colour but it’s not just a pretty sight! The judges like the floral bouquet combined with its spicy, warm finish.
Product: Gordons 0% Price: $34.99
Verdict: This is a light, refreshing and easy-going option that is perfect for those who want to enjoy gin without the ABV. Delicious!
Product: Old Young’s Pavlova Vodka Price: $69.99
Verdict: It doesn’t get more Aussie than this! This vodka from Perth’s Swan Valley ticks all the boxes – subtle sweetness and lovely floral notes.
Category: Brandy (including Cognac & Armagnac)
Product: St Agnes XO 15 Year Old Brandy Price: $109.99
Verdict: This is a star of an Australian product that was up against some very heavy international competition including Cognac and Armagnac. This brandy is subtle, yet balanced. Beautifully crafted by St Agnes Distillery in South Australia.
Category: Australian Whisky
Product: Corowa Characters Australian Single Malt Whisky Price: $94.99
Verdict: This Australian single malt whisky has been matured in wine casks, and has a balance of floral and sweet flavours. Hidden gem – simply divine. And under $100.
Category: Scotch Whisky
Product: The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask Single Malt Price: $129.99
Verdict: This incredibly smooth whisky has been aged in two different casks – American Oak and European Oak, both seasoned in cherry – for 12 years, and it is simply divine. It’s little wonder it’s one of the world’s most sought after whiskies.
Category: North American Whisky
Product: Maker’s Mark 46 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky Price: $68.99
Verdict: This bourbon has deep, rich and bold flavours of vanilla, oak, caramel and spice – yum!
Category: International Whisky
Product: Mars Iwai Tradition Blended Japanese Whisky Price: $109.99
Verdict: We love the combination of sweet and smoke in this soft and elegant Japanese whisky. That hint of peatiness really gives it a full-bodied flavour.
Category: Australian Rum
Product: Illegal Tender Rum Co Distiller’s Cut Rum Price: $84.99
Verdict: This Aussie rum blew the judges away. It packs a punch, great for cocktail making. Flavours of cinnamon and spice, well rounded.
Category: International Rum
Product: Ron Millionario Solera 15 Reserva Especial Price: $76.99
Verdict: Deep rich lingering flavour, great for sipping, long balanced flavour. A whisky drinker’s rum!
Category: Spiced Rum
Product: Captain Webb’s Two Swallows Orange & Ginger Spiced Rum Price: $45.99
Verdict:This rum is definitely one for the sweet tooths out there! Lovely, rich flavours great for mixing or sipping on the rocks.
Category: Aperitifs & Digestifs
Product: Campari Bitter Aperitif Price: $41.99
Verdict: A must-have for any home bartender – you can use this beautiful and versatile product to create an endless array of cocktails like Negroni or Americano, or simply enjoy with soda water.
Category: Agave Tequila
Product: Patrón Silver Tequila Price: $94.99
Verdict: What a crowd pleaser! This tequila has a smooth taste with citrus aroma and a light pepper finish. Perfect for that classic Margarita cocktail.
Category: Agave Mezcal
Product: Burrito Fiestero Cenizo Mezcal Price: $94.99
Verdict: Absolutely stunning – this mezcal can be compared to a young, peated whisky. Distinct sweet, fruity flavour with a gentle amount of smokiness give this Mezcal a smooth and well balanced finish.
Category: Pre-batched cocktails
Product: Curatif Tequila Tromba Tommy’s Margarita cans Price: $49.99 in CDS states (pack of 4)
Verdict: This cocktail is everything you want in a great Margarita. Convenient way of getting that on-premise serve every time!
Product: Cazcabel Tequila Coffee Liqueur Price: $59.99
Verdict: A blanco tequila has been blended with arabica coffee, and the result is absolutely delicious. Serve in a luxurious cocktail or neatly over ice.
Category: Asian Spirits
Product: Luzhou Laojiao Zisha Daqu Baijiu Price: $102.99Verdict: This Chinese liqueur is packed full of flavour, and really knocks your socks off. An outstanding product!