Winners of the third annual Tasting Australia Spirit Awards presented by Master Cask have been announced at an industry award event held on Saturday 26 September at The Gallery. This year’s awards attracted a record number of entries, with 255 unique spirits from 75 Australian producers, including 28 South Australian distillers submitted to the coveted awards.
Winner of the Best Distiller overall went to Hahndorf based Ambleside Distillers for two of their gold medal winning gins, the Small Acre Gin and the No. 8 Botanical Gin.
Best Rum went to Welland based Tin Shed Distilling Co. for their Requiem Rum ‘The Ferret’, while Ochre Nation won Best Liqueur for their Økar Amaro. Best Alternate Spirit was awarded to Adelaide Hills Distillery for their Apple Brandy.
Victorian distillery’s also triumphed at the awards, with two of the new categories for 2020 awarded to Victorian producers including Best Independent Bottler going to Gypsy Hub Distillery and Dromana based Bass and Flinders Distillery taking out Best Small Cask Maturation for their Distillers Selection Single Cask 6 Year Old Brandy. Victoria’s White Light Beverages won Best Vodka for its White Light Vodka Original for the third year running.
Best Whiskey went to Tasmania’s Sullivans Cove Distillery for their Sullivans Cove American Oak Tawny Single Cask. Tasmania’s Taylor and Smith Distilling Co. won Best Small Batch Spirit for their Taylor & Smith Dry Gin.
The winners were decided through three days of intensive tasting by a panel of expert judges, who for the first time this year were all South Australian due to travel restrictions.
World Whisky Award Hall of Fame inductee Bill Lark of Tasmania’s Lark Distillery was scheduled to judge the 2020 awards but was unable to make it to South Australia for the judging process. He nevertheless recognises the Tasting Australia Spirit Awards as an important event on the national spirit industry calendar.
“The Australian distilling industry is one of the fastest growing and most diverse in the world and the Tasting Australia Spirit Awards aim to recognise that ingenuity and energy,” said Lark.
“It has been a difficult and uncertain time for spirit producers of late and it’s great the awards could go ahead this year to celebrate the efforts and collaborative strength of this growing industry.”
Interim Head Judge and Tasting Australia Drinks Curator Nick Stock was impressed by both the quantity and quality of spirits produced for this year’s awards.
“I am thrilled with the number of entries we received this year, up 58% on the 2019 competition,” said Stock.
“The refinement and careful craftsmanship seen among the top awards is a strong theme this year, with distillers really honing their approach and producing convincing quality across a diverse range of styles. The competition for trophies was really hot this year.
“Additionally, the number of medals awarded is a great result given the significant rise in entries. More than three-quarters of all entries received a medal, 35 of which were awarded a prestigious gold medal ranking. This strong overall performance really reflects that we have such a vibrant and talented distilling industry in Australia, and we are thrilled to promote and support it through the Tasting Australia Spirit Awards.”
In addition to the industry-specific awards presentation, the public can taste spirits entered into the awards at various Adelaide venues, with the aim to support the hospitality industry and encourage people to visit the city’s small bars.
Spirits from all 11 awards categories, including category medal-winners, will be delivered to various bars across the Adelaide CBD including Maybe Mae, Yiasou George, 2KW and Hellbound. These spirits will be free to taste and available from 8pm on Saturday 26 September until bottles run out.
Previously held as part of the Tasting Australia presented by RAA Travel festival, the Spirit Awards will continue to be held outside of traditional festival dates in future years, as part of the Tasting Australia Local program. Nick Stock says this decision follows consultation with industry and partners, bringing many added benefits for entrants.
“It is a cornerstone of Tasting AustraliaIt is a cornerstone of Tasting Australia’’s ethos to support industry, not only during the festival, but throughout the year. The s ethos to support industry, not only during the festival, but throughout the year. The Tasting Australia Spirit Awards taking place ahead of the festival gives us the ability to really highlight the awardTasting Australia Spirit Awards taking place ahead of the festival gives us the ability to really highlight the award–winners and winners and maximise their benefit in participatinmaximise their benefit in participating in the awards,” said Stock.
2020 Tasting Australia Spirit Awards presented by Master Cask Award Winners:
• Best Distiller: Ambleside Distillers (SA)
• Best Small Batch Spirit: Taylor and Smith Distilling Co. (TAS)
• Best Independent Bottler: The Craft & Co, Gypsy Hub (VIC)
• Best Whisky: Sullivans Cove American Oak Tawny Single Cask, Sullivans Cove Distillery (TAS)
• Best Gin: Ambleside Distillers Small Acre Gin, Ambleside Distillers (SA)
• Best Vodka: White Light Vodka Original, White Light Beverages (VIC)
• Best Rum: Requiem Rum ‘SS Ferret’, Tin Shed Distilling Co. (SA)
• Best Brandy: Distillers Selection Single Cask 6YO Brandy, Bass and Flinders Distillery (VIC)
• Best Liqueur: Økar Amaro, Ochre Nation (SA)
• Best Alternate Spirit: Apple Brandy, Adelaide Hills Distillery (SA)
• Best Small Cask Maturation: Distillers Selection Single Cask 6YO Brandy Bass and Flinders Distillery (VIC)