Australian craft distillers at Tales of the Cocktail

One of the largest liquor industry events in the world, Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, will have an Australian flavour this year, with a range of small craft distillers showcasing their unique wares.

In a presentation around ‘Uniquely Australian’ products, a global audience of bartenders and liquor industry professionals will be introduced to what makes Australian spirits so unique – everything from production methods to the native ingredients used, the sustainable practices and the charming characters behind the brands.

Kathleen Davies, owner of craft distribution company Nip of Courage, told TheShout the she is really chuffed to have been able to orchestrate the opportunity. Davies, along with a small group of distillers, will be making the journey over to Tales accompanied by some of Australia’s rarest small batch spirit releases. Their audience will have the opportunity to sample an exclusive Aussie spirit flight with a huge 20 products, as well as chat with the four distillers who will also make the journey.

“[I] can’t believe that this is happening,” she says. “I submitted an idea for a seminar last year [and] didn’t think that our humble little proposal would ever be considered.

“I was surprised to receive a phone call from one of the organisers Philip Duff. He was really excited about my submission and encouraged me to take the plunge. I am hoping to shine a light on how unique and wonderful the entire Australian craft distilling industry is [alongside] the rare Australian inspired products that we are showcasing to this captive international audience.”


The distillers joining Davies are Peter Bignell of Belgrove Distillery (below) – owner of the world’s greenest distillery and one of only three whisky distilleries in the world that is paddock to bottle; Genise Hollingworth (above) of Black Gate Distillery – co-owner with her husband Brian, they have caught the attention of discerning rum and whisky drinkers across Australia with their small batch releases; David Vitale of New World Whisky Distillery – while developing the style of ‘New World Whisky’ in Australia and abroad he was recently double gold at the San Francisco spirits competition; and distiller Cameron MacKenzie and brand ambassador Samuel Ng from Four Pillars Distillery – Australia’s most successful gin brand and the second brand to score two separate double gold awards in San Francisco.

Peter Bignell Belgrove Distillery Rye Field

“It’s great to have a mix of smaller rural artisan distillers like Peter Bignell and Genise Hollingworth represented at Tales along with the larger craft distillers to illustrate the challenges for each distiller in this emerging industry,” says Davies. “Australia has a lot of geographical challenges not faced by other countries, it is basically a huge land mass the size of the US with a tiny population dispersed all over the country.

“What a lot of people don’t realise is that 80 per cent of Australian Craft Distilleries are based in rural locations where the economies are fragile and the job opportunities are limited. This is why a lot of the general public in Australia have never heard of half of the Aussie distilleries that exist. A lot of these rural operations are operated by one person.

“These rural one or two person operations don’t have a team of people working in their distilleries to take their business to the next level. I cannot stress how amazing this level of international exposure is for the smaller Australian distillers and for their larger fellow craft distillers.”

Some of the rare and unique products that will be on display are:

Sheep Whey Vodka – Hartshorn Distillery (TAS) – The world’s first vodka to be produced from ‘sheep’s whey’, distilled in batches of only 10 bottles at a time.

100% Peated Rye Whisky – Belgrove Distillery (TAS) – The world’s first peated 100 per cent rye whisky.

Quandong Liqueur – Black Gate Distillery (NSW) – A rare indigenous fruit liqueur foraged annually in central NSW.

Tiger Snake Sour Mash Whisky – Great Southern Distillery (WA) – Australia’s first ‘Bourbon style’ Whisky from southern Western Australia.

Ginger Beer Cask Single Malt Whisky – New World Whisky Distillery (VIC) – A new world whisky experiment gone right.

The Weaver – Loch Distillery (VIC) – A beautiful gin creation made with 5 London Dry botanicals and five Australian native botanicals.

Bloody Shiraz Gin – Four Pillars Distillery (VIC) – A limited cellar door release that is sweet, succulent and never been done before.

Night Sweat Choc Malt Moonshine – Young Henry’s Distillery (NSW) – Attendees will take home a mini jar of Young Henry’s limited release Night Sweat moonshine created in honour of American musician and artist Nathaniel Ratcliffe who toured recently in Australia with his band the Night Sweats.

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