Andrew McConnell’s Cumulus Up is hosting the inaugural Australian Spirit Fair this Saturday. It’s a celebration of the quality and breadth of Australian spirits – something we haven’t always been known for.
Four Pillars and Starward, which won double-gold medals at the 2016 World Spirits Competition in San Francisco for their gin and whisky respectively, will be pouring. So will other local producers, such as The West Winds Gin, Fire Drum Vodka, Maidenii, Sullivan’s Cove Whisky, Castagna and Melbourne Moonshine.
Marketing manager Loren Daniels from the McConnell Group says, “It’s a celebration of brilliant Australian-made spirits, in a cellar-door type environment, with makers and producers on hand to chat about their products.”
Attendees will receive a glass upon entry, and can taste a variety of spirits, which may be served neat, on ice or with a mixer, depending on what the producer thinks best showcases it.
Fitzroy bar Bad Frankie trades on the uniqueness and diversity of Australian spirits, exclusively serving local booze.
“Prior to 1992, it was actually illegal to produce spirits in stills smaller than 3700 litres,” says Bad Frankie owner Seb Costello. “Bill Lark, who produces whisky in Tasmania, challenged this and was granted the first small-distillery licence.”
According to Costello, the landscape for Australian-spirit production completely changed after this, and the industry is growing at a rapid rate.
Far from being cutthroat, however, Costello says the industry is thriving because there is a great deal of cross-fertilisation among producers and, “No one is in it for themselves”.
Brendan and Laura Carter from Applewood Distillery in the Adelaide Hills use native botanicals and fruits such as lemon myrtle and riberries to make their own small-batch gins and bittersweet amaros, which they’ll bring to the Australian Spirit Fair. They produce a single-malt whisky, too.
“We want to create spirits that taste like they can’t come from anywhere else in the world,” Brendan says.
The Australian Spirit Fair is on Saturday April 30, from 12pm–4pm at Cumulus Up. Tickets are $16 and available here.