The inaugural Perth Indie Spirits Tasting is open to consumers and trade professionals. Tonight’s event brings more than 120 boutique spirits to The Flour Factory, including some bottlings that aren’t for sale yet.
David Spanton, founder of Indie Spirits Tasting, is excited to kick off the national event in Perth.
“Thanks to a boom in the local distilling industry, homegrown Aussie spirits are making a big appearance,” he says. “With its thriving small-bar scene, amazing craft spirits and passionate drinkers and bartending professionals, Perth is the perfect city to host an event.”
Tickets are still available; your $55 buy-in includes tastings, bar snacks and access to six intimate booze seminars. More than 25 distilleries will be showing wares including local heroes Whipper Snapper and Limeburners. Among the international spirits expected to prove popular: cult American favourite Whistlepig Rye and bartender go-to rums Diplomatico and Plantation.
In short, you’re looking at the makings of a great night and – if you’re not careful – a not-so-great morning-after. As a bartender who’s attended her share of tastings, I know this from personal experience. But if you take heed of the following advice you’ll not only be able to have your cask-strength whisky, but remember tasting it, too.
Although your ticket includes some bar snacks, the odds are you’ll consume a few snifters of straight liquor before getting to them. In my experience, there’s a good chance you’ll forget about dinner. It might seem obvious, but if you want to keep up with the professionals and still be able to go to work the next day, ensure you eat a solid lunch (and, preferably, an afternoon snack). I recommend something carb-heavy. This isn’t the day for a light salad or – God forbid – a juice cleanse.
Treat your tongue with respect
“Palate fatigue”. It’s a thing. When you taste a lot of similar flavours your palate gets tired and you won’t taste properly anymore. High ABV spirits are super effective at speeding up this process: not ideal if you’re trying to taste as many rare, interesting spirits as you can in a couple of hours. There are a few things you can do to help combat the phenomenon. Start with lighter spirits such as vodka, gin and light rum, then work your way up to the heavier spirits. If you smash your palate with a smoky whisky straight up, it’s going to be hard to detect the nuances of native ingredients in a local gin anytime soon after. A couple of drops of water in a spirit is a great way to bring down the ABV, open up the flavours and lessen the impact of palate fatigue. There’s no shame in asking for a splash of water in your drink, in fact, it’ll probably make you look like you know what you’re talking about. Sparkling water and light snacks between tastings will also go a long way towards keeping your mouth in tip-top condition.
It’s called The Indie Spirits Tasting, not The Indie Spirits Chugging
I’ve worked at many of the larger-scale food and drink festivals in Perth and have noticed punters tend to have a serious “drink as much as I can for free” vibe going on. While getting your money’s worth is noble, shaking your tasting glass at the staff to be filled while simultaneously not listening to the sales pitch because you’re yelling to your mates is just bad manners. Getting a little buzz on can be a happy side effect of learning about interesting booze, but it shouldn’t be the primary reason to buy a ticket.
The person working the stall probably knows more than you
You love your spirit of choice. You’ve tried different brands and know more than most of your friends about it. Most hospitality staff will genuinely love that you are passionate about it, but luxury items such as spirits tend to inspire some funny phenomena, in particular, that one-upmanship that seems to rear its head in bar situations. Maybe it’s the booze talking, maybe it’s some weirdly ingrained animalistic power play, but it’s worth noting that if Local Whisky Company A has hired Person X to push their product at a trade show, it’s likely Person X is pretty well-read on that brand and on whisky in general. Rather than telling them everything you know about whisky, try listening to them. You might even learn something new.
If you loved it, go out and buy it
A lot of the brands you’ll try on the night are small businesses and passion projects. Without going into boring details, it’s safe to say starting a spirit company from scratch is a complex, expensive process. Keeping it afloat can be even tougher. So if you do taste something you love, go out and buy it. Find out which bottle shop or website sells it and support the brand. Tell your friends, order it in a bar next time you see it and champion some of the brave innovators changing the Australian spirits industry.
The Indie Spirits Tasting is on Wednesday March 15 at The Flour Factory (16 Queen Street, Perth) from 5pm to 8.30pm. Tickets are available online.