Sydney Whisky Fair 2011 at the Oak Barrel

The Sydney Whisky Fair is an event showcasing whiskies and spirits from Australia and around the world. Held over two consecutive days at the Oak Barrel in Sydney, guests had the opportunity to discover and taste a select range of whiskies from over 20 international and local distilleries and participate in a selection of masterclasses.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
The Cave at the Oak Barrel

Over 100 different whiskies, Bourbon, Rum and Cognac were available to taste, with exhibitors ranging from Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Japan, America, India, Wales, Reunion Island, Venezuela, the Caribbean, Norway, Britain and Guyana.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
The Cellar Room, Oak Barrel

With a focus on enjoyment and the responsible service of alcohol throughout the tasting sessions, guests were greeted on arrival with food packs and water, and encouraged to use public transport from the event. Tastings ranged from 5ml to 10ml to enable everyone to experience a good range of whiskies in moderation.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Baranows Emporium range

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Shane Kalloglian of Premium Scotch Importers – Jack Daniel’s stand

If the cross section of the attendees was any indication, whisky is enjoying popularity among people in their 20s and 30s and it is good to see that it not solely the domain of older men. A few women attended the event and from the questions being asked around the tables, there was a marked interest in the enjoyment of single malts.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Robb Sloan, Reserve Brand Ambassador with Talisker, Johnnie Walker Blue and The Singleton of Glen Ord

Gourmantic attended the three hour session on Saturday where over 40 different whiskies, rums and spirits were tasted.

Jura (Scotland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Jura range (Scotland)

Jura Origin 10 is the introductory level 10 year old single malt. Unpeated with a light and delicate side and gentle notes of honey. Jura Superstition with its Ankh cross makes a regular appearance at home, a marriage between 13 and 21 years, lightly peated with gentle smoke, spice and honey. Jura 16 year old is full bodied with a longer, richer finish and hints of citrus and sweet toffee. Jura Prophecy is heavily peated with notes of cinnamon and spice, one of the favourites on taste and to be enjoyed on special occasions.

Glenfarclas (Scotland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Glenfarclas display (Scotland)

Glenfarclas is the oldest family owned distillery in Scotland, dating back to 1836. On taste was a good representation of the range, starting with the Glenfarclas 21 year old, rich, smoky with spicy end notes. The Glenfarclas 25 year old is full bodied, intense with a smoky and malty finish. The Glenfarclas 30 year old was the favourite of the range, with complexity and long finish, a single malt you would want to enjoy with a special friend.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Glenfarclas range (Scotland)

We also tasted the Glenfarclas 40 year old, the 1980 single cask and the Glenfarclas 105, with its60% alcohol, a smooth and warming drop, fruity and sweet on nose.

Limeburners, Lark Distillery, Sullivans Cove, Bakery Hill (Australia)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Robert Whithers from Limeburners (Australia)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Limeburners (Australia)

Limeburners are Western Australia’s only single malt whisky produced in Albany, in the Margaret River area, where there is a natural abundance of barley, peat and pristine waters. All single barrel releases, their bottles are individually numbered. The Limeburners Barrel M29 046 portrays a unique flavour, one thar citrus and spice aromas that remind you of local ingredients. The Limeburners M67 024 135 is a cask strength single malt, 61% ABV is matured in Bourbon casks and old sherry casks which gives it a dark colour with strong spice and fruit aromas. Limeburners Whiskey Liqueur is made from secret herbs and local Karri honey. This is a light liqueur with subtle flavours, one that is not too syrupy.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Bill Lark of Lark Distillery, Australia

Lark Distillery from Tasmania is well known to us, having met Bill Lark at the Lark Masterclass at the Oak Barrel in March 2011.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Lark Distillery (Australia)

On taste were the Lark Distillery Single cask 43% (floral notes and a little peat smoke on the back palate), Lark Distillery Cask Strength 58% (rich in colour with well-balanced flavours) and the Lark Slainté Whisky Liqueur (sweet aromatic notes with a long finish).

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Sullivans Cove Whisky (Australia)

Sullivans Cove is a Tasmania Distillery that was established in 1994 on the banks of the River Derwent at Sullivans Cove. The first distillations began in 1995 and its single pot still has continued to operate ever since. On tasting were the Sullivans Cove Single Cask Malt Whisky (matured in port casks), Sullivans Cove Double Cask (matured in American and French oak) and Sullivans Cove Cask Strength (matured in American oak Bourbon casks). Read our interview with Patrick Maguire, Master Distiller and Sullivans Cove Distillery Tour.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Bakery Hill (Australia)

Bakery Hill Distillery from Victoria use only malted barley, yeast and water to ensure the true classic flavour and aroma of real single malt whisky with no caramel added to improve the appearance. On tasting were the Bakery Hill Double Wood Malt (46% abv), Bakery Hill Peated Malt (46% abv) and the Bakery Hill Cask Strength Peated Malt (60% abv).

The Dalmore (Scotland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
The Dalmore (Scotland)

The Dalmore Distillery, with its iconic royal stag’s antlers, has been producing single malt whisky since 1839. The Dalmore 12 year old is unpeated, with malty and caramel aromas, aged in American white oak and Oloroso sherry wood. The Dalmore Gran Riserva isaged from 10 to 15 years in sherry oak has more intense taste with a sweet finish.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
The Dalmore King Alexander III (Scotland)

The Dalmore King Alexander III isan exceptional malt aged in 6 different types of oak: French wine barriques, Madeira drums, sherry butts from Jerez, Sicilian Marsala barrels, port pipes from the Douro and bourbon barrels from Kentucky. Presented in a distinctive cage, this is an after dinner whisky, with long length, to be savoured on special occasions – one of the favourites on tasting.

Elements of Islay (Scotland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Elements of Islay (Scotland)

The Elements of Islay whisky from Scotland is an eye catching range with its periodic table-like labels and pharmacy bottles that take you back to a lab environment. Bottled at cask strength in individual batches, each symbol represents the distillery and the number on the bottle refers to the batch number. These whiskies don’t show an age or a vintage on the label, allowing casks of different ages to come together to create a taste profile.

The Cl1 (Caol Ila at 62.9% abv) has a tinge of sweetness with good smoke and alcohol content to blow you away at first.  Lg2 (Lagavulin at  58% abv) is sweeter with less smoke but intense and fiery. Pe3 (Port Ellen at 54.8% abv) was closed in 1982,  and is the only single cask of this range and the most expensive. Not too much smoke, a little sweet with a long finish. We also tasted the Lp1 (Laphroaig at 58.8% abv) and  Ar2 (Ardbeg 60.5% abv).

This range was by far the standout of the whisky fair.

Diplomático Rum (Venezuela)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Rum and Diplomático Bianco

Diplomático Reserve Blanco Rum originates from Venezuela and is aged up to six years with a combination of light and heavy rums distilled in copper pot stills. The rum is then filtered and treated with charcoal to strip its colour. Light and aromatic, sweet with vanilla notes, this is a rum to be enjoyed in the heat of summer over ice with an orange peel.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Rum

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Rum is a favourite of the day’s tastings. Blended from pot still rums, it is then aged in small oak casks for an average of 12 years before being bottled. Dried fruits, with caramel notes and a luxurious finish, this is an indulgent rum, one that can accompany a good dessert.

Not available yet but worthy of a mention is the Diplomático Ambassador. This is set to be a blend of 100% copper pot still rum distillates, aged for 12 years with a further two years in Pedro Ximénez cask. One to look out for when it becomes available.

Monkey Shoulder (Scotland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Monkey Shoulder (Scotland)

Monkey Shoulder, with its eye catching posters is a triple malt Scotch whisky made from 3 single malts from Glenfiddich, the Balvenie and Kininvie, the latter is not released to the public. Good for cocktails, it has light floral notes on the nose with sweet honey and toffee notes on the palate with a lingering sweetness.

Caol Ila (Scotland), Penderyn (Wales) Amrut (India), Hazelburn (Scotland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Caol Ila (Scotland), Penderyn (Wales), Amrut (India), Longrow (Scotland)

Penderyn Aur Cymru comes from the sole distillery in Wales. Penderyn Sherrywood is matured in sherry oak and has rich dark fruits and caramels notes on the finish.

Amrut comes from India, and has strong aromatics to the fore. Light and slightly unusual.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Longrow (Scotland), Springbank (Scotland), Hazelburn (Scotland)

Springbank 10 year old Single Malt is produced using lightly-peated barley, a unique two-and-a-half-times distillation and is matured mostly in bourbon casks. Hazelburn 8 year old, is another standout of the tasting, matured for 5 years in Bourgogne then 3 years in Sauternes wood. This is a strong and viscous whisky with good maturation, another favourite discovery.

Talisker (Scotland) and the Singleton of Glen Ord (Scotland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Talisker (Scotland) and the Singleton of Glen Ord (Scotland)

Talisker is the only single malt Scotch whisky from the Isle of Skye on the shores of Loch Harport. Talisker 10 year old has loads of smoke on the palate with a savoury black pepper on finish. Talisker 57o North isnamed after the distillery’s high latitude and has 57% alcohol. Full-bodied and complex, it is more fruity and carries more sweetness than the 10 year old and opens up dramatically with water, one of the favourites on tasting. The Talisker Distillers Edition is another favourite, matured in bourbon and sherry casks, and has a tannic and dryness with some dry fruit notes.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 12 year old was recently  tasted and reviewed at Eau-de-Vie Bar.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label (Scotland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Johnnie Walker Blue Label (Scotland) – Bowmore Islay Single Malt (Scotland)

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch is considered a luxury Scotch Whisky that is about rarity and prestige. Very smooth for a blend with a long defined finish, this is a for celebration, one to be appreciated and not too challenging to drink with good friends.

Nikka Whisky (Japan)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Nikka Whisky (Japan)

Nikka Whisky is a single malt from Japan, a distillery started by Masataka Taketsuru known as the grandfather of Japanese whisky. The Nikka 17 pre malt hasa distinctive style, with honey notes and dried fruit, and a prominent minerality which makes it a good accompaniment to Japanese cuisine with fish and seaweed.

We had previously tasted the Nikka Whisky From the Barrel. At 51.4%, it was surprisingly smooth with a medium finish.

Glenfiddich (Scotland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
The Balvenie (Scotland) and Glenfiddich (Scotland)

Glenfiddich was established in 1887 and is owned by the same people who make the Balvenie. The Glenfiddich 18 year old is made in smaller pot stills and is rich in oak, cinnamon and apple delivering a luxurious taste.

Connemara, Tyrconnell, Greenore (Ireland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Connemara (Ireland), Tyrconnell (Ireland), Greenore (Ireland)

Unlike Scottish whisky which is made entirely from malted barley and is distilled twice, Irish whiskey uses raw and malted barley and is distilled three times. Irish whiskeys tend to be lighter with more floral notes and good for mixers.

Connemara is a good entry-level single malt from Ireland, very mild. Tyrconnell is a light and fruity single malt, with light and smooth characteristics.

Riviere du Mat Rhum (Reunion Island)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Riviere du Mat Grande Reserve Rhum (Reunion Island) – La Mauny Rhum and Bache Gabrielsen XO Cognac (Norway)

El Dorado Rum (Guyana)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Bristol Classic Rums – El Dorado (Guyana) 12 year old and 8 year old rum

El Dorado Rums are distilled in Demerara County, Guyana using some of the original wooden stills from the 1700 and 1800s. The El Dorado 8 year old is an enjoyable medium-bodied rum. El Dorado 12 year old is a different story, a blend of specially selected aged rums with the youngest being no younger than 12 years old and aged in old bourbon oak casks. This is a rum that is full of rich flavours of fruit and spice and one of the favourites on taste.

Other Whiskies, Bourbons and Rums on Taste

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Hudson Whiskey (USA)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Jack Daniel’s (USA) – Woodford Reserve Bourbon (USA)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Auchentoshan (Scotland), The Yamazaki Single Malt 12 year old (Japan)

The Yamazaki Single Malt 12 year old from Japan is a medium bodied whisky with honey and dried fruit notes, with an unusual dry and woody finish.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Laphroaig (Scotland), Basil Hayden’s Bourbon (USA), Booker’s Bourbon (USA)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Highland Park (Scotland), The Macallan (Scotland), Ardmore (Scotland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Buffalo Trace Distillery (USA), Sazerac Rye (USA), Elmer T Lee Bourbon (USA)

The Sazerac Rye Whiskey with its spicy and vanilla notes was one we enjoyed recently at Emmilou Tapas Bar.

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Sheep Dip (Scotland) and Pig’s Nose (Scotland)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Signing plaques for the Oak Barrel

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
L to R – Simon Clarke (Oak Barrel), Patrick Maguire (Sullivans Cove), Bill Lark (Lark Distillery), Keiren Perkins (Olympic Gold Medal winner), David Baker (Bakery Hill)

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
Bill Lark with Keiren Perkins, who has a barrel of whisky at Lark Distillery in Tasmania

Sydney Whisky Fair 2011
L to R – Simon Clarke (Oak Barrel) , Ben Baranow (Baranows Emporium), Julian, Dave and Jason (Oak Barrel)

The Sydney Whisky Fair was held over two days on September 2 and 3, 2011 at the Oak Barrel premises in the CBD. Approximately 250 people attended the well-run event and the timing of each session was sufficient to allow guests ample enjoyment of the range of whiskies and spirits on taste. With the interest raised during the tasting, the Sydney Whisky Fair is set to become an annual event that Sydneysiders will mark on their agenda.

Sydney Whisky Fair

The Oak Barrel
152 Elizabeth Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Photography by Mr Gourmantic.

Gourmantic attended the Sydney Whisky Fair on Saturday 3 September as media guests.


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Sydney Whisky Fair 2011 at the Oak Barrel was last modified: December 20th, 2015 by Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.


  1. Incredible range! That’s what I call a whisky tasting. And you tried over 40? Well done Ms G 🙂

    • Amazing range, isn’t it… You can’t try everything of course, and there were some that we didn’t get to but yes, over 40 were tasted. It helped that they offered sandwiches and water, so we took a little break in between.

  2. Interesting comment about women taking to whisky. I thought it only garnered appeal to older men… looks like it was fun but hard work to try so many 🙂

    • It was surprisingly a younger age group, which was good to see. There were a few women tasting and asking questions, so there’s definite interest! Hard work to taste? I knew my limits and paced it accordingly 🙂

  3. I bet you slept well that night Corinne!
    Loved the photos. What an event, I wish I could have been there!

    • Thanks for your comment, Joel! 🙂 You were missed! It was a great event, and you’re right, we just flopped on the couch that evening discussing the drams we tasted, then had the best night sleep!

  4. @gourmantic Fantastic write up of the Sydney Whisky Fair. Sad I missed it.

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter.

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