Sunday, 4 September 2011

Whisky Fair at Oak Barrel

On Friday night I went to Oak Barrel in Sydney for Whisky Fair with some friends from the DTWC. Oak Barrel is one of my favourite bottle shops in Sydney. They've got a great range of international wines, whiskies and some friendly and knowledgeable staff to tell you about them.

The rival Whisky Live, which held its first event two years ago, didn't really live up to expectations and I'm sure the able event organisers at Oak Barrel thought they could do better. They did.

It was a well run evening, with the high ceiling back room of the shop lined with tasting tables. A $60 entry feel got you unlimited tastings for four hours. With hearty baguettes on offer and plenty of bottled water available, everyone managed to stay sober through the evening and I was thankfully clear headed the next morning!

The western end of the room had less known whiskies and distilleries. Most were unknown to me and I think there were a few new ones to my DTWC colleagues as well. I spoke to a couple of producers who are trying to crack the Australian market, including Springbank.

The eastern end of the room had some of the bigger houses including Laphroaig, Glenfarclas and Glenfiddich. I generally gave these tables a miss as I've tasted a lot of their whiskies before and was looking for something new.

The most interesting find of the evening was Bakery Hill, an Australian distillery in Victoria. The friendly owner, David, was there promoting his products. I enjoyed the Double Wood Single Malt that has been aged in American and French Oak barrels. It was a lot more complex and interesting than the Single that has been only aged in American barrels.

My favourite whisky of the evening was the Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Although they don't declare which whiskies make up the blend, the Johnnie Walker rep told us that some were from the 1960's. It's not often you get to drink a 50yr old whisky! It was a very smooth and easy drinking whisky, slightly sweet, fruity and with a little bit of spice. I was surprised how much I liked it.

A few bourbons were also on offer. Some might think that heresy at a whisky night, but I enjoyed tasting some of the rye bourbons. They are a very different animal to your Scotch whisky.

Overall a very good night. The room got a little bit crowded at times, but that is a minor complaint really. It is the type of event Whisky Live should have been. Only a shame we had to wait two years for it to happen!


  1. Thanks for boosting the UK export trade :-)

  2. So many people here in Sydney seem to be buying stuff on the internet from the UK at the moment it must be helping the economy. Whiskyexchange for cheap booze is just one of them! ;-)