11 of Australia's most interesting spirits

With Father's Day almost upon us (hint: Sunday, September 7), one of the best-received presents for many dads – if perhaps not the most original – is a favoured tipple.

Instead of plumping for an oft-gifted brew or long-favoured grape, put a unique stamp on your present by gifting his favourite spirit, but made by an up-and-coming Australian distiller.

Australia's burgeoning spirits industry is surfing a wave of kudos and quality – major recent international awards for Tasmanian whisky distiller Sullivans Cove, Melbourne's Four Pillars Gin and NSW Central Coast's Mr Black coffee liqueur have brought unprecedented attention to the industry.

Campbell Stott, the Head of Merchandise for spirits retailer Dan Murphy's, says sales in its stores of Sullivans Cove whiskies soared by 471 per cent year-on-year after it was named the world's best single malt. Meanwhile, the average customer has increased their spend on gin by 19 per cent since 2009.

"Australians are turning to premium products more than ever before, looking for authenticity, history and quality, particularly in the gin category," he says.

Ahead of Father's Day, Executive Style asked Stott to nominate what he believes are the most interesting spirits in Australia's ever-evolving industry.

Here, in no particular order, are his 11 selections (not all of which, it's worth noting, are stocked by Dan Murphy's):

Mr Black Cold Drip Coffee Liqueur

(NSW, 700ml, RRP $58.90)


Mr Black was created to deliver the taste of coffee in cocktails and mixed drinks without the need for fresh espresso. Made in Erina, NSW, it took nine months and over 300 iterations to achieve the form that was awarded a gold medal at the 2012 International Wine & Spirits Competition in London. At the time it was the highest accolade ever achieved for an Australian spirit.

Sullivans Cove Single Cask French Oak Whisky

(Tasmania, 700ml, RRP $169.99)

A hand-crafted, copper pot distilled whisky that recently received the ultimate accolade from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, being named the world's best single malt. It is matured in hand-selected French Oak port casks that are bottled separately, yielding only around 450 bottles each. Demand has skyrocketed in the wake of this year's award.

The West Winds Gin 'The Sabre'

(Western Australia, 700mL, RRP $54.99)

A unique Australian gin using local and imported botanicals cut with triple-filtered Margaret River rain water. 'The Sabre' is a traditional British-style gin led by underlying citrus and a dominance of juniper, followed by coriander seed, and has become a distinct cult favourite among gin fans.

Maidenii Classic Vermouth

(Victoria, 750ml, RRP $43.99)

The result of a collaboration between French winemaker Gille Lapalus and Australian bartender Shaun Byrne, Maidenii leverages the best of both nations. Lapalus and Byrne have worked to capture natural flavours, including wormwood and wine sourced from Victoria.

Smith's Angaston 12 Year Old Whisky

(South Australia, 700mL, RRP $99.99)

Crafted in the heart of the Barossa Valley's world-famed winemaking region, Smith's 12 Year Old shows aromatic notes of vanilla and toasty oak along with a note of dried fruit, cigar box and leather.

Bundaberg Master Distillers' Double Barrel Rum

(Queensland, 700ml, RRP $84.99)

Bundaberg's Master Distillers' Collective uses a double barrel finishing process and some of the distilleries' finest reserves for an ageing process that commences in port barrels before being transferred into old sherry barrels. The end result shows hints of honey, caramel and spice.

666 Pure Tasmanian Vodka

(Tasmania, 700mL, RRP $53.90)

Made from Tasmanian barley in an area proven to have the cleanest air in the world, and uses water from Cape Grim, which collects rains blown over from the Antarctic. 

Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin

(Victoria, 700mL, RRP $69.90)

Individually numbered, hand labelled and produced in small batches from a small distillery in Melbourne's Yarra Valley, Four Pillars was awarded double gold at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Made in a modern Australian style, it uses a mix of local and exotic botanicals.

Lark Distiller's Selection 46% Whisky

(Tasmania, 700ml, RRP $156.99)

The 46%, better known as the 'Distiller's Selection', displays all the attributes of the 43% ABV (alcohol by volume) variety, but the step-up in alcohol leaves the delicate floral notes behind and reveals more plum pudding notes, as well as adding richness and balance to the palate.

Starward Whisky

(Victoria, 700ml, RRP $78.99)

An unashamedly modern whisky created following years of experimentation, adjustment, trial and even more adjustment. Starward begins with Victorian barley and ends up in aged Australian Apera casks that have been re-coopered, re-toasted and re-sized.

Hellyers Road 10 Year Old Original Single Malt Whiskey

(Tasmania, 700ml, RRP $87.90)

Hellyers' flagship product is distilled from Tasmanian-grown malted barley and pure rainwater, using American White Oak barrels to mature.

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