Australia continues to punch above its weight when it comes to whisky, with two local hero brands striding the stage at the prestigious World Whiskies Awards held in London overnight.
Sydney master distiller Archie Rose stole the show as World's Best Rye for its Rye Malt Whisky, ahead of contenders from America, Canada and Europe.
It's a stunning coup for Archie Rose, and doubly so given that Australia doesn't spring to mind when you think about rye whisky strongholds.
Not that this will come as a surprise to anybody who's sipped this unique pairing of malted ryes and barleys, matured for three years in virgin American oak casks.
Executive Traveller spirits writer Franz Scheurer has previously and perhaps presciently praised it as "the best bloody rye whisky in today’s world", highlighting the elegantly complex layering as it washes over the palette.
The World Whiskies Awards judges obviously agreed, crowning Archie Rose's Rye Malt Whisky after this blind-tasting assessment:
"An apple-led nose with dried apples and dry cider, some anise, caraway and toasted bread crust. Palate has a thick, almost creamy texture. Spiced sponge, light ginger and star anise. Initial sweetness dries out with a medium, nutty, dry fruit finish."
Rye is the original foundation of many classic whisky cocktails such as the Manhattan, old fashioned, and whiskey sour, but sip it straight and you'll appreciate a deceptive subtlety which opens with spicy tones and a drier taste than you'd expect before intensifying to reveal a harder, sharper edge.
Archie Rose founder, Will Edwards, described the win as "a huge credit to our Master Distiller, Dave Withers, and our whole production team, who are so incredibly passionate about making innovative, malt-forward, Australian whiskies, and a beautiful and timely reminder that we'll all eventually get through this and get back to what we know and love.”
Limited edition, unlimited joy
Meanwhile, Tasmania's Sullivans Cove will bring yet another trophy back to its increasingly-honoured Hobart distillery.
The company's 25th Anniversary Edition took out the title of Best Australian Single Malt, marking the brand's fourth World Whiskies Award following back to back World's Best Single Cask Single Malt titles in 2018 and 2019, and World's Best Single Malt in 2014.
The limited-edition release was drawn from four 21-year old casks of Sullivans Cove’s earliest single malt, fortuitously discovered in a Hobart warehouse.
Sullivans Cove Head Distiller Heather Tillott recalls the bottling from these American oak ex-bourbon casks as "an immensely rewarding project".
"Although our methods have changed somewhat since this whisky was distilled 21 years ago, it's still distinctly Sullivans Cove and is a wonderful representation of our philosophy, which is to let the spirit speak for itself."
"Learning the fingerprint of these older casks and putting in the work to perfect the balance and strength of the final product to allow the whisky to express its true self was a pleasure, and we're hugely proud of the result. To see it do so well on an international stage is a lovely validation of that work and pride."
Sullivans Cove Managing Director Adam Sable tells Executive Traveller that "whilst we make single malt whisky that we love to drink, it’s always wonderful for the team when a highly respected panel of international judges enjoys it too!"
"This release was a real labour of love, from the many iterations of the liquid to ensure it was outstanding, to the hours spent perfecting the packaging so it perfectly referenced the original Sullivans Cove bottling from 25 years ago, to each bottle being carefully filled, labeled and packed by hand. We couldn't be happier about receiving international recognition for that effort."
The best of the rest
Other winners from the 2020 World Whisky Awards, which you may want to seek out and sample or add to your personal collection, include:
- World's Best Single Malt: Hakushu Single Malt 25 Year Old
- World's Best Single Cask Single Malt: Tamdhu Sandy McIntyre’s SC
- World's Best Blended Malt: MacNair’s Whisky Lum Reek Blended Scotch Whisky, 21 Years Old
- World's Best Blended Whisky: Dewar’s Double Double 32 Years Old
- World's Best Grain: Fuji Single Grain 30 Year Old Small Batch
- World's Best New Make: Victoria Caledonian Distillery Peated Mac na Braiche
- World's Best Wheat: Bainbridge Organic Distillery Battle Point Two Islands Hokkaido Mizunara Cask
- World's Best Bourbon: Ironroot Republic Distillery Harbinger
PS: As it happens, today is World Whisky Day, so we encourage Executive Traveller readers to take a little time out this evening, enjoy a dram and reflect that while life is full of travails, they will pass and be left behind as life marches onwards.