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Latest Whisky & Spirits News

Springbank 2017 Limited Release Single Malts

 

Four new limited releases from Springbank this week – the powerhouse stalwart of the once vibrant Scottish whisky hub Campbeltown.

A distillery that remains true to its independence, values and (many might say inefficient) methods, Springbank remain one of the most traditional and hands-on distilleries in Scotland. Not only are they one of the few to still use their own malting floor but – ever rarer – they malt all of their barley requirements on site.

Avoiding technological advancements where they can, everything they do takes a hands-on approach. They are the biggest private employer in Campbeltown, which can seem a much further removed from the urban centre of Glasgow than it really is (both geographically and philosophically).

If there was a whisky lover’s whisky, Springbank would probably be it.

There are three distinct types of whisky produced at Springbank distillery, their eponymous label and Longrown and Hazelburn, which are both named after long-closed distilleries in the town.

Hazelburn is the lightest, triple distilled and un-peated it takes on its cask influence very well. Springbank sits in the middle, two-and-a-half times distilled and lightly peated (the barley is dried with peat smoke for six hours, hot air for 30). Longrow is the heaviest, double distilled and heavily peated (the barley is dried for 48 hours with peat smoke).

The distillery also has a very small output, with a capacity of 750,000 litres annually. However capacity can be misleading, in 2016 the sleepy distillery was awoken enough times to only produce 150,000 litres. 80 percent of the time that was Springbank, with Longrow and Hazelburn given 10 percent of the production each.

Because of Australia’s isolation and the patient roll-out of the distillery’s expressions, limited releases tend to arrive in waves and that’s just what’s happened. Four special releases across all three styles have now arrived in very small quantities. They won’t last.

SPRINGBANK LOCAL BARLEY 11-YEAR-OLD

Second release of the series sourcing barley from local farms. Classic Campbeltown.

SPRINGBANK 12-YEAR-OLD CASK STRENGTH

Batch 14 of this much-loved expression, creamy and rich with soft fruits. First in new colour-coded packaging in Aus as well.

LONGROW RED MALBEC CASK 13-YEAR-OLD

 

Peated whisky in red wine casks, the latest release uses ex-malbec barrels sourced from South Africa.

HAZELBURN 2003 OLOROSO CASK 13-YEAR-OLD

 

Springbank’s lightest style matured in both first-fill and refil oloroso sherry casks makes for delightful reading and delicious tasting.


Posted: 18/10/2017
Light ‘Em Up: A Smoky Whisky Tasting At The Oak Barrel

It’s been an awesome year of whisky tastings at The Oak Barrel, and we’re determined to finish the year off with a few bangs as well.

One of those will be ‘Light ‘Em Up’, featuring some pretty special pours.

In an evening of celebrating all things peat and smoke in our whiskies, we’ll be trying six whiskies of different shapes and sizes but all with that common thread.

Brand new into the country, the Laphroaig 27-Year-Old will be a centrepiece for the evening. With a fabulous amount of age (not to mention a shelf price of over $1,000), it’ll be fascinating to see how this expression has evolved.

The second edition of the highly collectable Octomore 10-Year-Old will be on pour. Sold out around the world, we have some of the last stocks of this incredibly-heavily-peated whisky, which is commonly bottled at five years old or as young as possible.

A single cask of just 261 bottles, all of which found their way to Australia, this is a cracking dram from one of our favourite Islay distilleries. PX sweetness with farmyard fire.

From new independent bottlers North Star comes this Islay 8-Year-Old from an undisclosed distillery. A powerful single malt, we have our hints on what this could be although we’re not 100 percent sure.

We’ll also crack open batch one of Sansibar’s Smoky Peated Blended Malt from the Germany indie bottlers. Largely does what it says on the tin, as good as a single malt.

Not usually available in Australia, the Islay Mist 12-Year-Old is a historic blended whisky based around peat. It’ll be our opener.

To be hosted by The Oak Barrel's own independent whisky specialist.

What We’ll Be Trying

Laphroaig 27-Year-Old 2017 Release
Octomore 10-Year-Old 2nd Edition
Kilchoman PX Single Cask Australian Exclusive
North Stay Islay 8-Year-Old
Sansibar Smokey Peated Blended Malt
Islay Mist 12-Year-Old

WHAT: Light ‘Em Up: A Smoky Whisky Tastubg
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Thursday 9 November 2017, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $75 / Non-Members $85
TICKETS: [MEMBERS][GUEST]


Posted: 11/10/2017
A Tasting With Yamazaki’s 18-Year-Old Mizunara Cask

 

This November we'll be opening a bottle of the Yamazaki 18-Year-Old Mizunara cask, one of the year's most anticipated releases.

It’s commonplace for a whisky drinker to have a unicorn - their ultimate bottle, which, virtually unobtainable, they’ll spend years searching for.

For some, the search will end happily. They’ll find it at an obscure bottle store, forgotten about and covered in dust behind at the back of the shelf, or it’ll be behind the bar in some small town local available by the pour.

Very rarely though, will a whisky become a unicorn for thousands of people around the world before anyone’s tasted it. Such is the demand and clamour for Japanese whisky, that Yamazaki’s 18-Year-Old Mizunara Cask 2017 Release is a unicorn before it’s even begun.

The latest in Suntory’s series of limited releases, which have in the past involved the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 and 2016 editions, Yamazaki Puncheon, Hakushu Heavily Peated etc., we have been inundated with requests from customers since it was first announced in July.

By the time September came around the release was confirmed for October in Japan and the US, the waitlist had swelled to well over 50 names.

Unfortunately, our allocation is the grand total of three bottles and, yes, the first two people on the list have taken up the opportunity to purchase the bottle ($1,600 was the price, incidentally).

We’re not complaining though, it’s a privilege – not a right – to receive any allocation at all, especially when the Japanese market is being allocated via ballot.

As such, there’s only one responsible course of action for the remaining bottle of Yamazaki 18-Year-Old Mizunara Cask 2017, and that is to open it and share it with as many people as possible.

That’s exactly what we’ll be doing Tuesday 21 November in The Oak Barrel’s Cellar Room, in a night that will not only celebrate this very special release, but Japanese whisky as a whole.

With the Mizunara as our centrepiece, we’ll also be cracking the regular – but illusive – Yamazaki 18-Year-Old and the Hakushu 18-Year-Old. Keeping with the Mizunara theme, we’ll also be tacking the Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve, from one of Japan’s most exciting new distilleries, Chichibu.

They’ll be complemented by two other whiskies we’re currently hunting now and will confirm when we’ve got them in our hands, ready to go.

Hopefully it will help a few more of you try this whisky, which is destined to skyrocket in price on the secondary market, and maybe you’ll discover something new along the way.

What we’ll be trying:

Yamazaki 18-Year-Old Mizunara Cask 2017 Release
Yamazaki 18-Year-Old
Hakushu 18-Year-Old
Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve
Whisky 5 TBC
Whisky 6 TBC

WHAT: A Night With Yamazaki’s 18-Year-Old Mizunara Cask
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Tuesday 21 November 2017, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $125 / Non-Members $140
TICKETS:SOLD OUT - Join the waitlist for final tickets by emailing scott@oakbarrel.com.au.

Bottle pictures by May Lawrence.


Posted: 03/10/2017
Massive Whisky And Spirits Sale

 

We have annihilated prices on some of our favourite whiskies and spirits on the shelf as part of our pre-stocktake, post-Whisky Fair, pre-Christmas shelf space organisation.

In what it the biggest sale across spirit lines in recent Oak Barrel whisky history, we've selected some of our favourite lines and distilleries as part of the offering.

To confirm, for a very limited time or until stocks run out we're offering massive reductions of distilleries like Sullivans Cove, Yamazaki, Macallan, Kilkerran, Mars, Laphroaig, Adelphi and more.

Outside of the whisky world our favourite rums and gins, like Diplomatico and Loch’s Weaver, have also had huge price drops.

Because if we’re going to have a sale like this, we’re gonna offer the best drinks we can find.

Members will still get their 10% discount across all these lines, even though they are heavily discounted.

Not a member? Membership to The Oak Barrel is a one-off $25 fee and then you get 10% off the store, and cheaper tickets to events.

If you want to join up as a member and get a discount instantly, add the membership product to your cart (alongside the products you want) and the discount will be immediately applied.

You can also select click and collect as the delivery option to pick up your items in store!  

Product Image Was Now Members
Loch Weaver (Gin)   $99 $72 $64.80
AnCnoc Peter Arkle 2nd Release
  $99 $75 $67.50
Archie Rose Distillers Strength (Gin)   $99 $78 $70.20
Mars IWAI
  $99 $79 $71.10
Penderyn Peated
  $149 $83 $74.70
Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva (Rum)
  $110 $89 $80.10
Mars IWAI Tradition
$115 $93 $83.70
Laphroaig 10-Year-Old   $110 $95 $85.50
Laphroaig Quarter Cask   $129 $102 $91.80
Yamazaki Distillers Reserve
  $149 $115 $103.50
Port Askaig 100 Proof
  $155 $119 $107.10
Kilkerran 8 Cask Strength
  $165 $131 $117.90
Paul John Single Cask #987   $179 $135 $121.50
Adelphi Breathe Of Speyside Single Cask
  $210 $160 $144.00
Macallan 15-Year-Old Fine Oak
  $199 $161 $144.90
Sullivans Cove American Oak
  $365 $265 $238.50
Adelphi Bowmore 1997 Single Cask
  $365 $289 $260.10
Macallan 18-Year-Old Fine Oak 
  $449 $325 $292.50
Glenfarclas 30-Year-Old (Old Packaging)   $799 $555 $499.50
Laphroaig 30-Year-Old 1985 $2,150 $1775 $1597.50

 


Posted: 28/09/2017
A Tequila (And Cheese!) Tasting Evening

The Oak Barrel will once again be turning our Cellar Room into the Tequila Den this October for an evening that should change the way you think about tequila.

The past couple of years has seen a fantastic boom in sipping tequila interest, driven by an increase in availability of the good stuff and the appearance of tequila-focused bars around the country. If you haven’t experienced it already, tequila is now being enjoyed as a serious sipper alongside the likes of whisky, rum and cognac by discerning Australians.

Thursday 12 October global mezcal and tequila expert Phil Bayly will lead us through a range of products from Fortaleza, Ocho and Don Fulano. Earlier this year Phil was appointed a Global Mezcal Ambassador by The Mexican Government, so not only does he know his stuff, he’s got a few stories to tell as well.

Mixing things up even further, we’ll be matching the tequilas with cheese. Yep, cheese.

Cheese is one of the world’s great foods, partly because it matches so well with booze. You’ve been to cheese and wine tastings, to cheese and whisky tastings, even to cheese and beer tastings – but have you ever done cheese and tequila? Having had a test run earlier this year, the agave spirit and dairy solid are a match that we never knew we needed, but will now never leave behind.

WHAT: A Tequila (And Cheese!) Tasting
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Thursday 12 October, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $20 / Non-Members $30
TICKETS:  SOLD OUT


Posted: 27/09/2017
Rare and Special Whiskies From India's Amrut

 

Aa big fans of the single malt whiskies emerging from India (we’ve even bottled our own) we’re always fascinated by the experimentation that can be achieved by the tropical climate’s quick maturation. A world away from the steady hand of Scotland’s weather, Indian whiskies mature at an absolutely rapid pace by comparison.

On one hand you’ve got to be very careful that you don’t over-oak, but on the other it means that today’s exciting ideas can be whisky reality in just four years’ time – rather than ten… or 15.

Bangalore’s Amrut – for many the instigator of quality Indian single malt on the world stage – have never been afraid to challenge conventions and drinkers have benefited as a result.

We’ve currently got a selection of limited edition and small batch expressions from a recent shipment that are looking great line astern on the whisky wall (we rarely have the opportunity to have this many at the same time). However, as good as they look, they’re probably more use in your collection and in your glass.

Very limited allocations for these, some of which we have six bottles of – others we have just two.

AMRUT SPECTRUM 004

Matured in casks made from staves with different wood types, the first Spectrum didn’t even make our shelves. Arguably the most popular whisky at Sydney Whisky Fair 2017, limited bottles left.

 

AMRUT GREEDY ANGELS 8-YEAR-OLD

The Indian climate (like the Australian) doesn’t lend itself to long maturations, most expressions are offered after three-to-five years of aging. The heat and large temperature variations mean the whiskies are both ready at that age – and run the risk of becoming over oaked. Release in honour of the company’s Chairman, the Greedy Angels series is comprised of casks that have bucked the trend and gone beyond what we think they should have. Some of the best whiskies to ever come from India have come under the ‘Greedy Angels’ banner.

AMRUT DOUBLE CASK

Limited to 900 bottles worldwide, this has been vatted from just two casks – an ex-bourbon and an ex-port. Fantastic expression distilled from peated Scottish barley, so plenty of body.

 

AMRUT TWO CONTINENTS

Originally matured in the volatile India climate, these casks were transported to a European location to finish their maturation under calmer conditions.

 

AMRUT SINGLE CASK #888

A lucky cask number has yielded a fantastic dram. Matured in virgin oak, this single cask – bottled at 62.8% - is an exclusive to the Australian market. Incredibly rich, with treacle and caramels. Would pass for some sort of fortified cask given the colour. Some of the last stocks in Australia.

 

AMRUT KADHAMBAM

Started in a oloroso sherry cask, transferred into ex-brandy and rum casks (which Amrut produces for the domestic market). To add to the mix, some of this malt was peated. You get something new with every nose.

 

AMRUT NAARANGI

Probably the most headline-grabbing experiment yet, an ex-oloroso sherry cask was filled with wine and orange peels and left to sit for three years. It was then emptied and filled with whisky. This and syrupy with (you guessed it) beautiful citrus notes. 


Posted: 21/09/2017
A Night Of Japanese Whisky At The Oak Barrel

 

The phenomenon and interest in Japanese whisky continues to roll on at pace, but what’s it all about? Where did Japanese whisky come from? Why is it in so much demand? Why is it hard to get?

The Oak Barrel will be hosting A Night Of Japanese Whisky, an evening of whiskies, stories and education. Whether you know nothing, a little or a lot, there’ll be something for you to try (or re-try) this October.

Just because this is something of an exploratory ‘intro to’ evening of Japanese whisky, it doesn’t mean the expressions can’t be exciting. We’ll be trying three age statements from the Suntory range to explore the differences between single malts from the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries (plus what happens when you bring them together in a 17-year-old Hibiki).

Outside of that we’ll tackle the Nikka’s Pure Malt Black (an all-malt blend that is not widely available outside of the domestic market) Ichiro’s Mizunara Wood Reserve (an expression from Chichibu using a unique Japanese oak) and the Kamitaka (a light, easy blend from the rebuilding Akashi stocks).

It will be hosted by The Oak Barrel’s whisky guy Scott Fitzsimons and follows on from the massive high-end Japanese tastings from earlier in the year (three nights of sold out fun!).

Tickets are on sale now and are strictly limited.

What We’ll Be Trying:

Kamitaka Blended Japanese Whisky (Akashi)
Nikka Pure Malt Black
Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve (Chichibu)
Mars Cosmo Blended Malt
Hakushu 12-Year-Old
Yamazaki 12-Year-Old
Hibiki 17-Year-Old

WHAT: A Night Of Japanese Whisky
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Wednesday 11 October, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $55 / Non-Members $65
TICKETS: [BUY MEMBERS] [BUY GUEST]

Please note tickets are non-transferrable and non-refundable, so please book carefully.


Posted: 12/09/2017
Antique Lions Of Whisky: A Tasting For The Ages

 

Although it is what is inside a bottle that counts, there are times when love at first sight can strike between a drinker and a whisky.

We have to admit that the release of the first Antique Lions Of Whisky series – dubbed ‘The Birds’ – earlier this year caught our attention. A homage to the gorgeous Moon Import whisky releases of yesteryear, three of Europe’s top independent bottlers and whisky merchants have come together under the banner of Antique Lions Of Spirits to offer whisky drinkers something quite special.

The Oak Barrel is excited to announce that we’ve managed to secure two full sets of the release. One of those is currently on the shelf in our store’s temperature controlled vault and the other is being reserved for a tasting evening in mid-October.

ALOS was formed by Jens Drewitz of Germany’s Sansibar alongside Italian whisky merchants Max Righi (Silver Seal) and Diego Sandrin (Whisky Antique).

This release is a homage to the Moon Import bottlings prominent in Europe in the ‘90s and ‘00s. Often beautifully stylised, the resultant series has some of the best packaging we’ve ever seen.

The whiskies have been selected to have an ‘old world European’ style, so expect them to be soft, elegant and fruity with fantastic poise.

There are less than 300 bottles of each of the expressions in this first Antique Lions Of Whisky ‘The Birds’ and even less of complete sets.

Inside each one of the beautifully presented boxes, the trio explain the series in their own words:

“What you are holding in your hand, our dear friend, is the result of a meeting amongst friends, Jens Drewitz (Germany), Max Righi (Whisky Antique) and Diego Sandrin (Lion’s Whisky) each in love with whisky, each eager to create and produce something that people can enjoy, something that will not forfeit quality for profit, we wanted to give you an experience that you will cherish, therefore we have carefully selected these single casks and decided they were the best we could find at this time.

“We also wanted to give homage to Maestro Mr Mongiardino for the inspiration of his label design in the past Moon Import series and were fortunate enough to find the beautiful plates of these beautiful 1800s drawings.

“Hopefully ALOS will continue to release high quality and beautiful products for you, this all depends on feedback, if we are successful in pleasing you then we will continue.

“Thank you for choosing this bottle as part of your whisky journey, may you be blessed by years and years of good life and good drams.”

The series consists of six expressions – five 28-year-old 1988 vintages from highland and Speyside distilleries Mannochmore, Blair Athol, Tormore, Glen Moray and Fettercairn and a 41-year-old 1975 from an un-disclosed Speysider matured in an ex Fino-sherry cask.

We will be opening all six bottles in an intimate and very special tasting event at The Oak Barrel, which may not be repeated around the world. The night will be hosted by The Oak Barrel’s Scott Fitzsimons, a self-proclaimed lover of Diageo workhorse and other under-appreciated distilleries.

Tickets are strictly limited and we cannot do a second night, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

What We’ll Be Trying

Antique Lions Of Whisky Glen Moray 1988 28-Year-Old

Antique Lions Of Whisky Tormore 1988 28-Year-Old

Antique Lions Of Whisky Fettercairn 1988 28-Year-Old

Antique Lions Of Whisky Mannochmore 1988 28-Year-Old

Antique Lions Of Whisky Blair Athol 1988 28-Year-Old

Antique Lions Of Whisky Speyside 1975 41-Year-Old

WHAT: Antique Lions Of Whisky – ‘The Birds’ Tasting Night
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Tuesday 17 October, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $90 / Non-Members $100
TICKETS: SOLD OUT

Please note: tickets are non-transferrable and non-refundable.


Posted: 11/09/2017
Sake Appreciation: Intro To Sake Tasting

Complex, technical, intriguing and varied. These are words more often associated with precision engineering. However we’re using these words to describe sake, seishu or nihonshu.

The Oak Barrel will be running a series of evening tastings as an introduction to sake from how it is made, the various grades to how it is drunk and the complex world of styles.

Sake is different but highly enjoyable. One has to get an understanding of how it is made and what to look for, but once you get your head around it you will become totally engrossed in this beverage just as we have.

Join Paul Downie, a certified sake professional, for the first in the series Thursday 21 September and taste a range of styles and types.

In the sit-down tasting we’ll go through eight different varieties and styles, all of which are included in the ticket price. 

WHAT: Sake Appreciation: An intro to sake tasting
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Thursday 21 September, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $20 / Non-Members $30
TICKETS: SOLD OUT


Posted: 06/09/2017
Introducing Never Never: Aussie Gin With Juniper!

The very first batches of the Never Never gin from South Australia have arrived in store, they’re extremely delicious and extremely limited.

Founded in 2016 but launched in 2017, the Never Never distillery is made up of Lead Distiller George Georgiadis, Brewer & Distiller Tim Boast and Ideas Man Sean Baxter.

Working on both white and aged spirits, they do have strong ambitions towards the world of whisky, but launched a gin onto the market in August 2017.

Juniper-lovers, their core line is dubbed the ‘Triple Juniper Gin’ as the berries are infused in three different methods. Batch 1 launched in August and yielded just 581 bottles.

It’s big and fresh, with the strong pine notes you’d expect from something so juniper-forward, but it’s balanced by delicate citrus and hint of spice at the back.

Never Never also delivered their first experimental ‘Southern Strength’ batch at the same time. The dark label releases are a high proof playground of new ideas and flavours, and batch one was bottled at 53% with just 68 bottles in the run.

Equally as juniper forward, it has a thick, syrupy palate that is just begging to be used in a mouth-coating negroni.

We’ve managed to coax a few bottles each out of Adelaide and into Sydney, but these Batch 1 editions are extremely limited.

NEVER NEVER TRIPLE JUNIPER GIN

NEVER NEVER SOUTHERN STRENGTH GIN


Posted: 06/09/2017