Australia's booming whisky industry continues to go from strength to strength with the naming of three local drops as "liquid gold" by the world's leading authority on the spirit.
The Whisky Bible, an unrivalled compendium of whiskies from around the world compiled by Englishman Jim Murray, bestowed the honour on Tasmanian distilleries Sullivans Cove and Lark, and West Australia's Limeburners.
Murray scores each of the hundreds of whiskies he tastes each year out of 100, and automatically accords those scoring 94 or above "liquid gold" status. The 2015 Whisky Bible contains more than 4500 brands or "expressions" of whisky from around the world, with only a "very small fraction" scoring in the coveted top bracket, according to Murray.
"These whiskies are, in my view, the elite: the finest you can currently find on the whisky shelves of the world," Murray says on his website.
Joining the elite
The 12th edition of the guide added more than 1000 new entries and awarded 95.5 points to Sullivans Cove's American Oak Single Cask varietal, 94.5 to Limeburners' Single Malt Barrel M61, and 94.0 to Lark Distillery's Single Malt Cask Strength.
The trio joins other Australian whiskies to receive "liquid gold" status in recent years including Tasmania's Overeem (Old Hobart Distillery), Velvet Hammer (Heartwood Malt Distillery) and Nant Distilling Company, Victoria's Timboon Railway Shed Distillery and South Australia's now-defunct Southern Coast Distillers.
Australia's burgeoning whisky industry is now recognised as one of the world's best boutique examples of the craft, regularly taking on and defeating larger established distilleries and multinational companies from Scotland and elsewhere.
It shot to international prominence last year when Sullivans Cove was named the world's best single malt whisky at the World Whisky Awards, and a small group of Tasmanian distilleries in particular have been lauded as a world-beating region.
Bulging trophy cabinet
The recognition for Sullivans Cove's American Oak Cask variety (barrel HH0047) - the fourth time the distillery has collected Liquid Gold recognition - joins the World Whisky Awards gong for its French Oak Cask style in the trophy cabinet.
In the 2015 edition of The Whisky Bible, Jim Murray noted of the American Oak Cask: "... hard to imagine a malt whisky being more malt whiskier … few distilleries do weight on delivery better than this one … exemplary malt whisky: absolutely beautiful."
Sullivans Cove chief distiller Patrick Maguire says the award is "a fantastic recognition of the superior quality of our range".
"It is great to have the American Oak in the limelight after all the attention that the French Oak has been getting of late.
"This award is made so much more special by the fact that barrel HH0047 was the 47th cask that we ever made and it's great to know that we got it right so early."