By Matthew Bonasia

Australian whisky is in its infancy having only been around for just over 20 years. The Lark Distillery in Tasmania is the oldest operating distillery which only opened in 1992. The Canadians, Americans, Japanese and Scottish have been mastering the art of creating different styles of whisky for centuries. For example the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland is over 400 years old. So, you might think that we’re a bunch of inexperienced amateurs that couldn’t possibly compete with the big boys of the whisky world. Well you are wrong!

In 2014 the Sullivan’s Cove Distillery in Tasmania won ‘best single malt whisky in the World’ with their French oak single malt. On the nose it’s full of rich dark chocolate, cinnamon, orange peel, hazelnut and licorice mint. The palate is rich and sweet with flavors of pepper, toffee and fruit cake with a long-lingering finish of chocolate. It was the first time the accolade had been bestowed upon a producer who wasn’t Scottish or Japanese. Australia has captured the attention of whisky aficionados and earned their respect ever since.

It’s no coincidence that Lark, Sullivan’s Cove and several other distilleries are located in Tasmania. The cool climate, pristine water, clean air and rich soil are perfect for cultivating barley (as well as producing our delicious Cape Grim beef and Flinders Island lamb). Furthermore, it’s abundant with peat bogs due to thick vegetation and wet weather. But great whiskies aren’t just produced in cooler climates. Right here in hot and humid Far North Queensland nestled amongst the banana plantations of the Atherton Tableland is a hidden giant.

The Mount Uncle Distillery was founded by Mark Watkins in 2001. The distillery has produced a number of award-winning spirits and liqueurs. However, Ron and I think that Mount Uncle’s masterpiece is ‘The Big Black Cock’ single malt whisky. It’s aged for 5 years in a hybrid of American and French oak barrels to create a smoother and more rounded whisky. Orchard fruits with gentle sweetness and spice on the nose, Christmas fruits on the palate with a long vanilla finish. It’s incredible!

Stretching from the Great Southern Distillery in Albany Western Australia to the Archie Rose Distillery in Rosebery New South Wales; By 2016 there will be approximately 33 whisky producing distilleries all around Australia and infinite more whiskies! You may not have the opportunity to visit each and every one so here at The Paddock Restaurant & Bar we’ve acquired and are building a unique collection of Australian whiskies (and other Aussie liquors) which we want to share with you, your friends and family. See you at the bar!

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