Gone are the days when the ‘top shelf’ was a handful of global Scotch whisky names and a bottle of Grey Goose.
The goalposts have changed, fuelled by an explosion in craft distillers. The expectation is that stores and venues will showcase more and dive deeper into what’s possible, whether an expansive London gin collection or an aperitif range beyond Pernod. What’s most heartening is that the spirits boom is not confined to international producers.
The Australian Distillers Association (ADA) noted recently that in five years the number of distillers had grown from 75 to more than 300. And they’re not just the usual Syd/Mel ventures either, with two-thirds located outside major cities.
Or maybe you’ve probably tried the Økar Island Bitter Amaro from wine/distilling power couple Brendan & Laura Carter, using native currants and finger limes. But have you sampled their Unico Zelo Mando, made using fresh Riverland Dekopon mandarins?
Speaking of fruits, we can’t go past Old Young’s Pavlova Vodka. Made by 2017 & 2018 Distiller of the Year James Young, this sees vodka with a meringue base and a summer fruit infusion (that is perfect with cranberry juice).
Of course, it’s not all dessert spirits. The new Poor Toms Strawberry Gin taps into the rampant pink gin fad, yet it’s bone dry. Made with fresh strawberries, young ginger and hibiscus flowers, it’s a drop-dead delicious gin that you’ll be hiding from customers.
Fittingly, this gin is also the key component for the new, eminently drinkable Poor Toms Negroni Spritz Cans, which finally present as an-all Australian negroni, in an ultra-convenient and frankly, addictive 250ml can.