It goes without saying that I consider the whiskies from Down Under at the very forefront of the new wave of world whisky.
In fact it was because of Australia - and in particular Tasmania - that The World Whisky Review came in to being and The Wizards of Whisky were launched. It was the Australians who pointed out that the likes of Canada, Japan, and Ireland were judged against each other but Australia, which has more distilleries than any of them, was lumped in to the 'Rest of the World' category with anyone from India to Sweden to Liechtenstein. Nothing wrong with any of those countries, but how can they be judged against each other?
It should come as no surprise that this is one of the strongest categories. Next year I would hope Nant and The Great Southern Distilling Company will also be involved in the The Wizards. And I'm delighted that along with some of the best representatives of the Australian genre, two different New Zealand whisky companies are represented. I'm proud of my Kiwi connections - i am an adopted citizen - and think New Zealand has a major role to play in New World whisky.
Both the stock of the New Zealand Whisky Company and that of Thomson comes from the now defunct Willowbank Distillery. Both companies have put out good releases, and I hope they both succeed in the future. I intend to feature Thomson in my next issue of The World Whisky Review.
The NZ Whisky company has the bulk of it, and has both put out some of the best casks at premium prices - which is fair enough - and started to do some clever things with more average casks - such as finishing the younger whiskies in New Zealand red wine casks.
I've got a lot of time for Greg Ramsay and his enthusiasm for rebuilding a New Zealand whisky industry and I back him. There is good whisky in New Zealand.
But I think he needs to rein in that enthusiasm and be aware that there are lots of people worldwide who know an awful lot about whisky - and aren't fooled or impressed by unsubstantiated claims he might make on its behalf.
I've expressed in my editorial what I feel about the ridiculous American awards event which crowned a New Zealand whisky the best in the world. Suffice to say, I think most people who know what they are talking about would agree that the results below are a far more realistic assessment of what's going on in The Antipodes.
WIZARDS OF WHISKY AUSTRALASIAN DISTILLER OF THE YEAR
- Sullivan's Cove, Australia
WIZARDS OF WHISKY AUSTRALASIAN WHISKY
- Bakery Hill Cask Strength, Australia
GOLD MEDAL WINNERS
- Bakery Hill Cask Strength
- Lark Cask Strength
- New Zealand Co 1993
- Sullivan's Cove cask 509
SILVER MEDAL WINNERS
- Bakery Hill Double cask
- Lark Distiller's Selection
- New Zealand Co Double cask
- Overeem Sherry 43%
- Overeem Port 43%
- Overeem Port CS
- Sullivan's Cove cask 330
- Sullivan's Cove cask 425
- Sullivan's Cove cask 429
- Sullivan's Cove cask 430
- Thomson 18 Year Old
BRONZE MEDAL WINNERS
- New Zealand 18 Year Old
- New Zealand 21 Year Old