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Australia’s wine state raises bar on whisky production

Primary Industries

Australia’s leading wine state is establishing itself as a respected whisky producer as an increasing number of South Australian distilleries launch single malts.

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Riverland producer Twenty Third Street Distillery has this week launched its first Single Malt Whisky, which has already won Gold at the 2019 World Whisky Awards in the Australian Single Malt category.

It joins a growing list of South Australian distilleries to release single malts after building up their brands through strong performing gins.

This year alone, new releases have included Adelaide Hills Distillery’s Native Grain Whisky and debut whiskies from Rochfort Distillery. Goolwa-based Fleurieu Distillery took out Champion Whisky at the 2019 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards in April with its Fountain of Youth.

There are also more established players in the South Australian whisky business. Last month, Adelaide-based Tin Shed Distilling released Batch No. 016 of its Iniquity Single Malt Whisky while iconic Barossa winery Yalumba has been producing its Smith’s Angaston Whisky on and off since the 1950s.

The rise of South Australian whisky follows the craft gin boom, which has resulted in the number of gin brands in the state going from less than five to more than 20 in the past decade.

Other popular South Australian gin producers currently maturing their first whiskies include Applewood Distillery, Barossa Valley Distilling and Kangaroo Island Spirits.

The state is also responsible for about half of Australia’s wine production and includes world-renowned regions such as Barossa and McLaren Vale.

Renmark’s Twenty Third Street Distillery launched in 2016 in the former Renmano winery. It is owned by VOK Beverages – a sister company of Bickford’s – which was established in South Australia in 1874 and historically known for its cordials and syrups.

VOK produces a number of well-known Australian spirits brands including Beenleigh Rum, Black Bottle Brandy and Vickers Gin but until now its craft distilling brand – Twenty Third Street – has focused mainly on brandy and gin.

Made from a Queensland sourced, single variety Australian barley, Twenty Third Street Distillery collaborated with Byron Bay’s Stone & Wood Brewing to develop the whisky wash, specifically seeking a light and fruity style.

After malting, mashing and fermentation, the liquid was copper pot distilled and then matured in majority ex-bourbon oak barrels for three years.

The result is an amber-hued whisky with a layered palate of citrus peel, spice, warm toffee and a lingering buttery finish, topped with floral and vanilla aromas and an underlying dried fig, cedar wood and ex-bourbon oak barrel influence.

Only 4200 700ml bottles are available in the first release for $150 a bottle.

The Twenty Third Street Distillery’s Master Distiller Graham Buller said the 43 per cent ABV Single Malt Whisky was a non-replicable blend.

“Being in the Riverland, we’re in an advantageous position for producing superior whisky, with our warm climate and unique aging techniques, we’re able to gently accelerate maturation and character development to produce exceptional spirits,” he said.

Bickford’s purchased VOK Beverages in 2002 and bought the Renmark site from Accolade Wines in 2014.

Twenty Third Street Distillery opened two years later with a $6.6 million transformation and rejuvenation of the former Renmano winery in Twenty Third Street.

Bickford’s Group Sales and Marketing Manager Chris Illman said the Renmark distillery planned to produce more of the all-Australian single malt.

“We’re seeing steady growth in the whisky category, attributed to strong consumer trends towards premium spirits,” he said.

“We’re very proud that Twenty Third Street Distillery’s Single Malt Whisky was one of only three Australian Single Malt Whiskies to be awarded Gold at the World Whisky Awards.”

The Single Malt Whisky is available online, from selected retailers, from the Twenty Third Street Distillery in Renmark and at its Melbourne St bar in North Adelaide.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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