Manly Spirits Co
Vodka is a staple spirit – one that is crucial to making any spirits shelf complete. Australia’s got a great selection of small-batch vodkas to choose from, but those looking to brighten up their summer cocktails can’t go wrong with Manly Spirits Co’s artisan botanical varieties. Carefully selected native botanicals are sustainably foraged before being paired with pure Australian wheat spirit in two gorgeous stills. Manly Spirits makes two vodka varieties – Marine and Terra Firma. Marine was a silver medallist at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards and features a savoury profile, balanced by gentle flavours and sea air notes. Terra Firma is a bronze medal-winning drop that boasts more of a spiced note, with hints of sweet orange and a nutty finish. Both would make a fine addition to your collection.
Image: Alana Dimou
Illegal Tender Rum Co
Back in the days of early colonial Australia there was one form of legal tender that was worth more than money – rum. From 1787 until 1824, rum was the most popular form of payment until it was made illegal. Drawing inspiration from this time period is Illegal Tender Rum Co, which was started by passionate rum connoisseurs Codie Palmer and Hayley Wells. So enamoured with the idea of starting a craft distillery, Codie sold his assets to finance and set up an independent operation seven kilometres outside of Dongara in Western Australia. Here Codie has been able to fulfil his dream, creating a small range of cane spirits that have earned acclaim and awards all over the world. Illegal Tender Rum Co currently sells two kinds of spirit – a handcrafted spiced cane spirit infused with local bush tucker ingredients including Kakadu Pplum, quandong, wattle seed and wild rosella, and a double distilled new make cane spirit called the 1808 Barely Legal. Illegal Tender’s first batch of barrel-aged rum will be released in early 2018, so rum drinkers would be wise to keep their eyes peeled.
Whipper Snapper Distillery
Although a relative newcomer to the Australian spirit scene, Whipper Snapper Distillery’s origins extend back to World War Two. Using a recipe honed and perfected by two pilots who bonded over a love of whisky, Whipper Snapper pays tribute to the servicemen who helped formulate the process, ensuring the recipe is loved by future generations. Whipper Snapper Distillery has brought together decades of whisky distilling expertise to produce something quite remarkable. If you want something that’ll put a fire in your belly and hair on your chest, a bottle of Whipper Snapper’s Upshot will do the trick. Made from Western Australian corn, wheat and malted barley mash is distilled through unique copper columns before being contained within freshly charred Southern American white oak barrels for ageing. After maturing in the cask for two years, the Upshot whisky is ready to drink. Whipper Snapper Distillery also serves up some feisty moonshine if you’re keen to enhance your collection further.
Image: Jessica Wyld
This distillery was created to help realise a dream that had been passed from one generation to another. Brothers Jon and Con Lioulios are the brains behind Adelaide distillery 36 Short, which was created to fulfil their father’s dream of bringing rakia to Australia. For those unfamiliar, rakia is a term for fruit brandy that is popular in European countries. The Lioulios brothers distilled and launched 36 Short’s golden rakia – the first to be licensed and sold in Australia – with great success, and have since have expanded their selection of drops, including some hand crafted, small-batch gins and a white rakia. The golden rakia is full-bodied with a hint of spice and a sweet undertone, 36 Short’s original gin features floral notes and a balanced range of botanicals, while the blood orange gin offers up herbaceous notes with a citrus lift.
Tasmania might be the smallest of Australia’s states, but it pumps out some of the most acclaimed spirits in the entire country. Sullivans Cove has been creating top-notch whisky since 1994, and since then has racked up the accolades. So, what sets Sullivans apart? Well, Sullivans whisky is aged in full-sized 200 and 300 litre casks instead of small barrels, with a slow and steady maturation process over a few years. Nothing is bottled until it is ready, with some limited drops being released after 17 years. Sullivans Cove made a huge splash in the world whisky scene when it took out the ‘World’s Best Single Malt Whisky’ award at theWorld Whiskies Awards, following it up in 2015 when the distillery earned ‘Craft Whisky Producer of the Year’ – cementing its reputation as one of the best around. If you are only interested in stocking the best for your home bar, then the Sullivans Cove Special Cask single malt whisky is your best bet, but the Double Cask variety – boasting the complexity of French and American oak – has a vanilla driven perfume and an approachable flavour profile.
Image: Natalie Mendham
Honourable mentions: There are a plethora of incredible small-batch distilleries across Australia, almost too many to name! Some worthy of investigation include Hunter Distillery, Limeburners Distillery, Black Gate Distillery, Bakery Hill Distillery, Hippocampus Metropolitan Distillery, Fannys Bay Distillery, Southern Wild Distillery and Red Hen. If you have a serious hankering for some of Australia’s best small-batch gins, check out our round-up of some of the country’s best.