David Spanton reckons that, 10 years ago, there wouldn’t have been more than a handful of craft distilleries in Australia. “Today, you’ve got closer to 70,” he says. “In the United States you’ve had a similar boom. Not long ago there was maybe a dozen. Now, it’s up around the 1000 mark.”
Spanton is the founder of Indie Tasting, an independent spirits showcase run in conjunction with Swillhouse Group, which this Sunday takes over Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall on Caxton Street. “You couldn’t have done this five years ago,” he says. “The brands just weren’t available … 20 years ago there were four tequilas in the market. Now you’ve probably got 104.”
But getting them into bars is hard, and into bottle shops and the hands of consumers, even harder. “So these trade shows are important,” Spanton says. “This sort of thing has worked well for the beer and food markets. It’s time to give the spirits a broader awareness.”
Indie Tasting kicked off last September in Sydney, but that was a trade-only event. The inaugural Brisbane version is also open to the public. For $20 a ticket you can sample more than 100 independent brands from 25 spirits suppliers all under the one roof at Lefty’s. “It’s maybe too much of a bargain. I’m not sure we’ll have it that cheap next year,” Spanton laughs.
Spanton reckons 60 per cent of the boutique brands on show will be from overseas. To help you get familiar with them, organisers have drafted in a bunch of spirits experts to run masterclasses throughout the day.
On the Australian front, boutique brands will include Four Pillars Gin, 666 Pure Tasmanian Vodka, Applewood Distillery, The Beenleigh Distillery, The West Winds Gin, Cargo Cult, Mr Black and Whipper Snapper Distillery.
But why launch this new take on the event in Brisbane? “Brisbane was a natural pick,” Spanton says. “It’s a booming market for the bar scene, but doesn’t get as much attention as a lot of the other states when it comes to suppliers and shows.”
Indie Tasting takes place at Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall this Sunday 29 May between midday and 5pm. Tickets are $20.