Indie Spirits Tasting returns to Brisbane this Sunday, once again taking over Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall on Caxton Street. For one afternoon more than 30 exhibitors will set up inside the venue, ready to share knowledge and samples of the 106 spirits on show.
“There’s no doubt there’s a boom on for Australian distilling brands,” says David Spanton, founder of the Indie Spirits Tasting. “Gin is the flavour of the month, but everything has its time in the sun.”
Expect to taste everything from vodka from Tasmania and rum from Trinidad, to Peruvian pisco and Australian vermouth. Byron Bay’s new Brookie’s Gin will be there, and Four Pillars sell-out Bloody Shiraz gin is back. Those who attended last year will be pleased to learn that more than 30 per cent of the products on show have only hit the market in the past 12 months.
A $55 ticket includes tastings, snacks and access to six intimate booze seminars. For the average drinker this is a once-a-year opportunity to grow your knowledge of spirits and try products before they hit your favourite bars.
We asked Spanton to nominate five spirits he’s particularly excited about this year.
Despite 10 years in the whisky business and award-winning success, Limeburners is only now producing its first gin.
“You can make a gin very quickly,” Spartan says. “You can take that to market quickly, but you need to wait X amount of years to get whisky. “Brisbane will be the first event [for the gin]. This hasn’t been seen outside of Western Australia.”
Applewood Distillery from the Adelaide Hills uses native ingredients such as rye berries to produce its range of gins and aperitifs. Økar is a bright-red bitter spirit that can be used in a Negroni instead of Campari.
“Brendan Carter – the guy behind [Applewood] – is probably one of the most innovative distillers in the country,” Spanton says. “You can have [Økar] neat, but it is interesting to use them as replacements for more well known ingredients.”
Teeling Irish Whiskey
Teeling was the first new distillery in Dublin in more than 125 years when it opened in 2015. But Jack and Stephen Teeling’s family history in the business dates back to 1782, the brothers now drawing on the city’s rich history to produce triple-distilled whiskeys in new and interesting ways.
“You don’t see many new Irish whiskeys coming along,” Spanton says. “These guys have made a massive impact in the last 18 months.”
Plantation Overproof Rum
“Handle with care” Spanton warns. “This will put hairs on your chest.”
No doubt. At 73 per cent ABV, Plantation’s overproof rum isn’t for everyone. “This has some of the world’s leading industry names behind it,” Spanton says. “If you’re into your rums and interested in something different, this is a new one.”
For the less adventurous, Plantation also does a Pineapple Rum – worth tasting, Spanton reckons.
Whistlepig 10 Year Rye Whiskey
Whistlepig in Vermont in the United States has just started producing “farm-to-bottle” whiskey with grain grown on its own 500-acre farm, which is then matured in American oak barrels cut from trees that grow on the property.
Before that, the young brand got its start blending and bottling 100 per cent rye whiskies from Alberta Premium distillery in Canada. That’s what this is.
“They have a fantastic 10-year-old rye that’s a little bit different,” Spanton says. “Most people are used to an American style, so definitely pop along to try the [Canadian whiskey].”
The Indie Spirits Tasting is on Sunday 28 May at Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall (15 Caxton Street, Brisbane) from 12.30pm to 4pm. Tickets are available online