For the second time in four years, Sullivans Cove Distillery has won a major prize at the globally prestigious World Whiskies Awards.
In the limelight this time was the Tassie distiller's American Oak expression, named World's Best Single Cask Single Malt.
The Single Cask category was added to the competition after Sullivan's Cove French Oak was named World's Best Single Malt outright, at the World Whiskies Awards 2014.
This time around, the Sullivans Cove whisky was not judged alongside the vatted single malts; Japan's Hakushu 25 Years Old won the World's Best Single Malt category previously won by Sullivans Cove.
But the two prizes are on equal footing in the World Whiskies Awards. And the prize is every bit as remarkable when you consider the many single cask whiskies coming online each year, given the proliferation of new distilleries globally.
"The number of whiskies around now, that would have been entered in the 2018 awards as opposed to 2014, is significantly higher," says managing director Adam Sable.
"It's unbelievable isn't it? Twice in four years. I'm just so rapt for the team. It's fantastic for Sullivans Cove but also Tasmania as well."
The specific bottling was Sullivans Cove American Oak cask HH0351, distilled in June 2000 and decanted in January 2017, making it 16 years and 5 months old.
It was matured in a 200L American Oak ex-bourbon barrel and produced only 136 bottles. Sable says the vast majority are already in the hands of consumers.
"Hopefully some have kept it and not drunk it, but I guess it's there to be drunk and enjoyed!" he says.
"We hold back a small amount of each release that we do, so the distillery does have a small amount of it, but there are no plans around that as yet."
The French Oak releases from Sullivans Cove are its most sought after, with a $450 price tag to match.
But Sable says the American Oak expressions (RRP $295) are actually the distiller's most awarded.
"Demand for the French Oak has been crazy since the 2014 award, and also because it is a little bit rarer – we don't have as much of it," he says.
Sullivans Cove also picked up the prize for Best Australian Single Malt for its Double Cask expression, and a gold medal for its 2017 Winter Feast Special Edition.
"I think all our expressions have had their fair share of awards. I guess it just comes down to people's palates and what they enjoy, really," Sable says.
Hard to find
He says Sullivans Cove has been putting down additional casks for maturation since his family purchased the distillery in late 2016, but this is unlikely to address the continued shortfall of its whiskies anytime soon.
"We mature our whisky in larger barrels for long periods of time. While we are producing a little bit more it's still a very long lead time until that comes online," Sable says.
Presented by Whisky Magazine, the finals of the World Whiskies Awards are blind tasted and judged in London by an international panel comprised of leading journalists, spirit experts, distillers, specialist drinks retailers, bartenders and hoteliers from around the world.
Scroll through the gallery at the top to see the big winners of the night.