Food and beverage stories
Our whisky is world’s best again
A Tasmanian whisky has been named best in the world again – even beating the Scots at their own game.
Put simply: in the competitive world of whisky there is no global award that is more coveted, more prized, or more highly regarded.
As Sullivans Cove Head Distiller, Patrick Maguire, explained: “This award is like Wimbledon for whisky producers.
“It is the impressive one that everyone wants to win.
“So yes, right now, I can say our whisky is the best in the world.”
When we spoke to Mr Maguire he was straight off the plane from London and still in disbelief that Sullivans Cove had beaten the world’s best whisky producers – including heavyweights from Scotland and Japan.
“It blows my mind that our tiny little distillery at the other end of the world won,” he said.
“The win is obviously wonderful for Sullivans Cove, but just as importantly it is very significant for Tasmania’s whisky industry.
“This will seal the deal for us. Putting the state even more firmly on the map as a serious whisky producer.”
Sullivans Cove is the second oldest whisky distillery in Tasmania – established in 1994 – and the win proves the company is no one-trick pony.
This is the second major global accolade for Sullivans Cove, which also took home World’s Best Single Malt Whisky at the same awards in 2014, a first for any distillery outside Scotland or Japan.
Mr Maguire points out they were “over the moon when we won in 2014, but this latest one even tops that.”
And the secret of cask number HH0351?
One thousand whiskies were blind-tested by a panel of international experts: “I think the judges really enjoyed the fact our whisky has a full-flavoured robust taste,” Mr Maguire said.
“It is very buttery and with a creamy flavour that sits on the tongue and lasts for ages.
“This is all down to the fact that we don’t over process. We make whiskies the slow old-fashioned way.”
Aged in an American Oak ex-bourbon barrel, it took almost 17 years to produce cask HH0351. The whisky was distilled in June 2000 and decanted in January 2017.
There are only 136 bottles.
However, Mr Maguire also said the magic lies in Tasmania itself: the pristine water that flows down from our mountains and the local malted barley that creates spirits that are among the best anywhere.
Mr Maguire is one of the founding fathers of Tasmania’s whisky industry which numbers some 32 distilleries.
He reminisces about days experimenting in the kitchen and ‘making a bit of whisky’ with Bill Lark – who went on to set-up the pioneering Lark Distillery – before there was even any mention of a Tasmanian whisky industry.
“We could never have imagined back then that one day the world would see us as a 'serious' whisky-producing region,” he said.
Meantime, Sullivans Cove may have taken out ‘top gong’ at the London Awards, but there was also a big honour on the night for Burnie based, Hellyers Road Distillery.
Long-serving staff member, Sharon Deane, was declared a ‘World Whisky Icon’. Ms Deane who manages the visitor centre told The Advocate: “The award is attributable to the outstanding team we have working for us at Hellyers Road Distillery.”
However, it should also be noted that during the earlier rounds of the World Whiskies Awards there was a strong showing from other Tasmanian distilleries, proving just how 'serious' our local industry has become.
Previous rounds saw accolades for Hellyers Road: a gold medal for Henry’s Legacy Dismal Swamp (Single Cask Single Malt Australian Category), gold also for Slightly Peated (Single Malt Australian No Age) and a silver medal for Master Series Port Cask Matured (Single Cask Single Malt Australian 12 and Under).
Hobart based Lark Distillery was also the recipient of a prestigious award: a win for Limited Release: Port Cask 1ND30 (Single Cask Single Malt Australian 12 and under).
As for Sullivans Cove: they also had a win with Double Cask DC087 (Single Malt Australian 13-20) and received a gold medal for Winter Feast 2017 (Single Malt Australian No Age).
The Old Hobart Distillery, at Blackmans Bay, should also be congratulated for making it into the first round of the awards: a win for Overeem Port Cask (Single Cask Single Malt No Age).
With such an impressive array of award-winning Tasmanian tipple, even the most fastidious of whisky lovers is surely left spoilt for choice.
As Patrick Maguire: said “No other drink captures people’s imagination like whisky. That is because it is so complex; every whisky is different and every distillery has its own signature.”
If you would like to explore Tasmania’s boutique distilleries, meet the makers and taste their ‘signature’ wonderful whiskies, why not follow The Tasmanian Whisky Trail? For more information visit: taswhiskytrail.
Image courtesy of Sullivans Cove Distillery
To hear about Tasmania’s previous major wins at the World Whisky Awards watch these videos:
11 April 2018, Edition 193