The awards attracted more than 160 entries from 60 Australian distilleries.
Winners were announced last night after two days of judging by a panel that included wine critic and commentator Nick Stock, Lark’s Distillery founder Bill Lark, Hains & Co owner Marcus Motteram, and boutique wine and spirits distributor Mark Reginato.
Devonport-based Southern Wild Distillery was named the country’s best distiller on the basis of its top two scoring exhibits – the Dasher + Fisher Mountain Gin and Dasher + Fisher Sloe Gin.
Best Liqueur Award went to Adelaide Hills Distillery for “The Italian”, while Renmark-based St Agnes Distillery won the Best Brandy Award for its St Agnes XO Grand Reserve 40-Year-Old.
Stock said the winning spirits were “extremely high-quality examples of their type”.
“It’s no secret that this is the most exciting moment in the history of Australian distilling and the timing of these inaugural awards couldn’t be better.”
Other award winners included: Best rum – The Grove Distillery (WA), for The Grove Dark Rum; best vodka – White Light Beverages (Victoria), for White Light Vodka Original, and best small-batch spirit – The Craft & Co (Victoria), for its Acheron Gin.
The judges declined to present an award for the best whisky, with Stock saying they decided none of the entries were of gold medal standard.
“Their feeling is this reflects that whisky makers need to evolve their approach to maturation and balance that with some fast-growing commercial supply and demand pressure,” he said.
“It’s good constructive feedback to this section of the industry.”
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