When you start the night with a cocktail featuring a brandy aged for 15+ years, you know you’re in good hands. This is how the RASV welcomed distillers and spirit enthusiasts to their ‘ultimate cocktail hour.’ (Lucky for us, the Winning Tastes event was actually three hours long.) The event celebrated the Australian distilling industry with the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards. Of course, there were also award-winning drinks.
This was only the second dedicated event for the distilled spirits awards, but Winning Tastes knows how to throw a celebration. The night started out with trophies for champion Australian gin, whisky, rum, brandy, vodka, and liqueur. With the victors crowned and Limeburners winning the Champion Australian Distiller Award, we were ready to raise a glass to toast their success. (Several glasses, in fact.)
The event featured five mini-bar stations, each with a special cocktail highlighting the winning spirits. There weren’t just any mixologists manning these bars either. Bartenders representing some of the best venues in Melbourne shook, stirred, and poured our drinks that night.
Gin master Trish Brew from Gin Palace featured the unique botanicals in kis Old Tom’s gin in her Commonwealth Collins. Boilermaker House’s head bartender made us ‘Martinis on Elm St.’ with Old Young’s Pure No. 1 vodka. 1806 created a refreshing cocktail with fresh lemon and Hoochery Distillery’s Ord River Rum Premium. Whisky & Alement poured nips of Limeburners’ Single Malt Whisky Heavy Peat and the St Agnes XO brandy. Then Eau De Vie served us up a night cap with Golden Knight Schnapps Liqueur.
With a focus on local products and craft spirits, The Craft & Co. were excellent hosts for the night’s festivities. Shiny copper stills lined the wall while a range of tasty bites made the rounds. The ‘delectable canapes’ promised on the event invite was an understatement. We watched as chefs prepared pizzas in woodfire ovens, while servers enticed us with fried crispy prawns, arancini balls packed with gooey cheese, fresh oysters, and pork sandwiches.
For those that enjoy their booze with a side of maths, here are a few fun facts for you:
- There were 154 entries to the ADSA this year, up by about 40% from last year.
- Entries in the gin category more than doubled in the last twelve months.
- Three Australian distillers just won double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
For a full list of the 2016 champions, check out Winning Tastes.
With the delicious cocktails, expert mixologists, and a chance to rub shoulders with passionate distillers and industry professionals, this was a money-can’t-buy experience. Fortunately, the High Spirits’ real-world price was a bargain at $80. You can guarantee this award-winning event will be on my calendar next year.
Jenny Schmidt is an event addict. When she’s not attending live shows, you can find her sampling the latest craft beer or sipping a creative cocktail.
Winning Tastes runs a variety of events celebrating Australian producers including the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards and Australian International Coffee Awards.