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Latest Whisky & Spirits News

Best Of Sake 2018

As we near the end of the year we’re inclined to look back across the year and remind ourselves of the best we’ve drunk.

In the final sake event of 2018, we’ve selected our favourite sake from the year – irrelevant of price or grade – and will be opening them across one evening Thursday 13 December.

In the line-up is an industry-favourite daiginjo, a fruity junmai ginjo and something we’re especially excited to show you: one of the oldest aged sake (over 41 years!). We’ll announce more in the coming weeks.

We hope you can join us as we go through our favourite sakes of 2018 – creating some final memories of the year.

Thursday 13 December 2018.

Please arrive 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start.

Tickets: Members-Guests


Posted: 02/11/2018
New: Rums From Around The World

Our love of rum shows no sign of abating given the excellent supply we’re receiving into Australia at the moment and five recent arrivals, in particular, have caught our eye.

We’re going to have a very special tasting with Diplomatico in the coming weeks and the brand-spankin’ 2004 single vintage has now landed in store. One for sherry-cask lovers.

In terms of single vintages, the latest drop from Plantation provides a world of flavour. There’s the complex ‘a bit of everything’ 2004 from Peru, the ‘take no prisoners’ intensity of the Jamaican 2005 and the raw, honesty of relatively-local ‘honest truth’ 2009 from Fiji.

We also welcome one of the best value spirits (rum or otherwise) in the Penny Blue VSOP from Mauritius. Bloody good stuff.

Diplomatico Single Vintage 2004


Plantation Peru 2004


Plantation Jamaica 2005


Plantation Fiji 2009


Penny Blue VSOP

Posted: 31/10/2018
Melbourne's Starward Launch New Whisky

Melbourne’s Starward have long blazed the trail of modern Australian whisky, not only innovating flavour and enjoyment but pushing for value and taking our name to the world.

Tonight the distillery has revealed their new expression – Two-Fold. A single grain whisky distilled from wheat and malted barley (both grains that flourish in Australia), matured in Aussie wine barrels, it is rich-but-soft, fulfilling-yet approachable.

Available in store now:



As well as the brand-new expression, we’ve just received our allocations of the existing two lines back in store as well. We understand that the Wine Cask is now over its shortage issues, but the Solera will be very limited between now and the end of the year.





For something a little bit different, we’ve also had two collaboration beers between Starward and Boatrocker arrive – the bullish Dramjet and Sparkling Dramjet. Both are very limited.





Posted: 26/10/2018
Craft Works Whisky Launch Tasting With Crafty

The Oak Barrel is very proud to work with emerging distillers and producers around the country and we’re excited to help launch the whiskies of a new distillery and bottler not only close in location, but a long-time friend of ours.

Craig ‘Crafty’ Field is one of the most passionate distillers in the Australian whisky industry. Originally a lover of the spirit, the bug was too big, too engrained in the psyche for Crafty to sit on the sidelines of whisky.

In December 2015 Crafty – under the working name of Craft Works – laid down his first ever cask of whisky. He sourced a barrel and then new make spirit from a local distillery, essentially entering himself into the independent bottling market. Crafty continued to lay down casks in the proceeding years, but the goal was always to start his own distillery.

With one eye on a plot of land out the back of the historic Capertee Hotel in Capertee, west of Lithgow, sheer persistence and a healthy dose of unwavering dedication saw the dream become a reality earlier this year. In February 2018 the Craft Works Whisky Distillery distilled its first new make spirit.

To celebrate not only the foundation of a new distillery, but the love of whisky itself, we’ll welcome Crafty into the Oak Barrel tasting room this Wednesday 5 December. If you’ve sat next to him at a tasting, spoken to him at a Fair or joined us at August’s Distillers Dinner you’ll know we’re in for a treat.

We’ll sample some progress reports from the distillery but also a range of whiskies from the independent bottling arm of Craft Works.

The night will also see the unveiling of the Tasting Kits, which will be an exceptional way to sample across the Craft Works wares.

Crafty turns the power on.

What We’ll Taste:

From the distillery:
Craft Works New Make Spirit
Craft Works 6-Month Old Progress Report

From the independent bottling arm:
‘Just Derek’ Sherry Cask
‘Laga Cat’ ex-Lagavulin Muscat Cask
‘Blak Soul Beast’ Vintage Port Cask
Aisling Pinot Noir Cask Progress Report

WHAT: Craft Works Whisky Launch with Craig ‘Crafty’ Field
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney
WHEN: Wednesday 5 December, doors open 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $40 / Guest $50

Posted: 25/10/2018
BenRiach Single Cask Vertical Tasting

We’re excited to confirm that one of our final whisky tastings of the year will be a very special one – a vertical tasting of BenRiach single casks.

A tasting of rare BenRiachs like this will be a first for The Oak Barrel, featuring casks from the Batch 15 outturn. The series has a bit of everything – young whisky, old whisky, sherry casks, port casks, rare wine casks, peated expressions, unpeated expressions… all from the one marvellous distillery.

BenRiach almost didn’t get off the starting blocks. Built in 1897 by John Duff & Co., it started production in 1898 – just as the Scottish whisky industry was collapsing. One of the last to be built in that century, it was also one of the first sacrificed and BenRiach – originally designed as Longmorn’s sister plant – was shut in 1900, just three years after it began.

The distillery then spent 65 years in slumber until The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd fired the site up in 1965. Very much a blenders malt, BenRiach led an indistinct and low-profile life, very much in the shadow of its neighbours Longmorn and Glen Grant. Closed once again in 2002, it was easy to suspect that BenRiach would finish its days as a sidenote in the story of Scotch whisky. Reality would tell a different story and the distillery was about to be reborn and enter a golden age under the new-found demand for single malts.

In 2003 it was bought by a consortium led by Billy Walker – the former Direct of Burn Stewart – and production recommenced. With the focus now on single malts, existing stocks were released in a whole new range of expressions and the distillery name was finally being mentioned by more than just blenders.

Billy Walker went on to acquire the GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries, which have themselves both been reinvented using a similar template of passion and progressiveness that first worked at BenRiach.

The successes didn’t go unnoticed and in 2016 American whiskey and spirits company Brown-Forman bought the BenRiach group, which includes all three distilleries. With their investment and global network, the distillery’s profile will only continue to grow.

A site of experimentation across age statements and wood policies, the successes of their alchemy is perhaps best represented in their single cask releases, which we’re just starting to see substantial stocks of in Australia.

What We’ll Be Trying:

BenRiach Single Cask 10-Year-Old Moscatel Hogshead 58.9%
BenRiach Single Cask 11-Year-Old Port Pipe 58.7%
BenRiach Single Cask 11-Year-Old Sauternes Barrique 56.5%
BenRiach Single Cask 12-Year-Old Oloroso Sherry Butt 58.1%
BenRiach Single Cask 12-Year-Old Peated Port Pipe 53.9%
BenRiach Single Cask 20-Year-Old Marsala Hogshead 54.8%
BenRiach Single Cask 22-Year-Old Peated Oloroso Sherry Butt 51.1%

WHAT: BenRiach Single Cask Vertical Tasting
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney
WHEN: Wednesday 28 November, doors open 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $65 / Guest $75
TICKETS: Sold Out - Thank You

Posted: 25/10/2018
Diplomatico Rum Masterclass

Our series of exceptional spirits masterclasses continues this November as we welcome Diplomatico Rum back into our cellar room.

With the new single vintage 2004 release about to arrive in the country (along with Diplomatico’s Company President Jose Ballesteros) we’ll be cracking the new release and going through the distillery’s range.

The distillery is a giant in the rum world and the veritable Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva is not only one of The Oak Barrel’s consistent best sellers, but renowned around the world as a favourite of rum lovers.

The brand traces its history back to 1959 when Licorerías Unidas S.A (LUSA), of whom Seagram’s were the main shareholder, set up a distillery to make a range of rums. LUSA was put on the market in 2002 and a group of Venezuelan nationals bought it, including the distillery and Diplomatico brand. Now 100 percent locally owned, they took what was once a domestic market-only brand to the world.

Company President Jose Ballesteros and Asia Pacific Brand Ambassador Sai Charan will lead us through the distillery’s range, including the limited-edition Distillery Collection series and the brand new 2004 vintage.

What we’ll be trying:

Diplomatico Planas
Diplomatico Mantuano
Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
Diplomatico Distillery Collection No. 1
Diplomatico Distillery Collection No. 2
Diplomatico Single Vintage 2004

WHAT: Diplomatico Rum Masterclass
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney
WHEN: Tuesday 13 November, doors open 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $40 / Guest $50

Posted: 21/10/2018
Brix: Sydney's Newest Rum Distillery

We’d like to welcome Brix – Sydney’s newest distillery – to The Oak Barrel shelves, their first appearance at retail.

Brix is Old Sydney Town’s first dedicated rum distillery in decades, and it certainly on a much more boutique scale that CSR’s Pyrmont site was when it closed in 1986. Based in Surry Hills, you may have heard about them already – their distillery/bar/restaurant has been they place to go since they opened just over a month ago.

Brix has been founded by Damien Barrow, James Christopher and Siddharth Soin and they’ve enlisted for Archie Rose distiller Shane Casey to head up their production. They distil using Queensland-sourced molasses and play around with things like Champagne yeast.

Their White, technically a virgin cane spirit, is 100 percent Sydney, distilled and bottled on site. The Gold has created in consultation with rum agents in the Caribbean, a blend of five-to-eight-year-old rum from Barbados and matured in ex-bourbon casks.

These are the very first releases from Brix, and there’s a lot more in the pipeline (watch for a Spiced in the coming weeks) so we’ll raise a glass together and say g’day to the newest chapter in Sydney’s long history with rum.

Available now:





Posted: 18/10/2018
Very Rare: Whisky Agency’s Tenth Anniversary Single Casks

Sold out around the world and landing in Australia in very limited quantities – The Oak Barrel has been lucky enough to secure a range of single casks from The Whisky Agency’s tenth anniversary releases.

The German based bottled and broker have become world renowned in whisky circles but have only really been seen in Australia in the past months. To mark their anniversary TWA selected a range of absolute top-quality casks from across Scotland – the cream of the crop and the likes which are becoming an extinct species. These are single cask whiskies which have aged exceptionally well, from cult-loved distilleries (both those they’ve been able to disclose, and those they haven’t).

These were released in Europe during the first half of the year and even upon announcement people were wondering how they’d get their hands on them. Available through select retailers and in top whisky bars, these are largely sold out around the world.

The Australian allocation is minimal – in most cases just six bottles have made it to Australia. Going that our top whisky bars are snapping these up, even less are appearing in retail. Indeed, The Oak Barrel’s allocation for these releases is one bottle of each.

In true European bottler style, these are, of course, adorned with gorgeous graphic labels – the gold text marking the anniversary series.

See the selection below.

Highland Park 18-Year-Old 1996


Bruichladdich 14-Year-Old 2003


Ben Nevis 21-Year-Old 1996


Speyside 38-Year-Old 1979


Speyside 44-Year-Old 1973


Springbank 21-Year-Old 1996 (Peated)


Springbank 21-Year-Old 1996 (Sherry Cask)


Also just landed – another 21-year-old Ben Nevis single cask from Whisky Agency, this time in collaboration with Melbourne based bottler Liquor Library.

Ben Nevis 21-Year-Old 1996 Liquor Library

Posted: 03/10/2018
Old and Young: New From North Star


There’s a brand new series of expressions from Glasgow-based indie bottler North Star (run by Iain Croucher, above) freshly landed in Australia, and there are some absolute stunners in the bunch.

The second edition of the Vega blended malt series is a gorgeous 41-year-old, which is amazing value at sub-$400 for members. There’s also batch one of the Spica blend, which at $99 for members is a no-brainer to try a 20-year-old whisky. If you haven’t had anything that old previously, this is a great opportunity to do so.

The 4-year-old Campbeltown is also a ripper!

Vega 41-Year-Old

$425 or $382.50 for members

Incredibly well blended old whisky – all the old notes you want with plenty of richness.

Spica 20-Year-Old

$110 or $99 for members

Approachable, delicious blend at a beautiful price considering the age. Croucher’s done it again!

Campbeltown 4-Year-Old

$135 or $121.50 for members

A naked example of the Campbeltown style, Young and fiery and lots of fun.

Macduff 11-Year-Old

$175 or $157.50 for members

A mixture of sweet malt, cut flowers and the smell of rain on hot road.

Glentauchers 11-Year-Old

$185 or $166.50 for members

PX finish gives a soft, fruity roundness.

Caol Ila 12-Year-Old

$215 or $193.50 for members

Dusty, citrusy single cask with some of the best tasting notes of the year.

PX Fortified Wine

$79 or $71.10 for members

It’s back! Join the revolution and #drinkmoresherry.


Posted: 25/09/2018
Highland Park and Harviestoun: Whisky and Beer Night

The hint might be in the name, but here at The Oak Barrel we’re partial to a bit of cask influence. With the latest arrival of beers from Scotland’s Harviestoun we thought it fitting to match them up with the Highland Park whiskies their barrels held previously.

Located in Clackmannanshire, Harviestoun was founded in 1983 and is an established and respected name in the global craft beer community. Their Ola Dubh range are some of the most celebrated whisky barrel aged beers in the world, regularly topping out scores on beer aggregator websites. It’s a series of Imperial Porters aged in barrels which were previously used for Highland Park 12, 16, and 18-Year-Old single malts respectively.

Similarly, Highland Park has long demanded devotion from whisky drinkers – ever since it was founded in 1798. Located on Orkney, an archipelago off the north coast of the Scottish mainland, the distillery has long paid tribute to the region’s Viking history. Settled in either the eighth or ninth century, it became part of Scotland again until 1472, and recently bottlings have celebrated that history.

It is one of the last distilleries to malt a portion of its own barley and the 30 percent that is done onsite has been peated with local barley. The windswept, tree-less island is covered in heather and provides a unique, sweet smoke to their expressions.

Of the course of this October evening, the floral, fragrant malt and smoke of their expressions with by paired with the jet-black intensity of the beers as The Oak Barrel’s beer and whisky experts take you through the intricacies and history of the drinks.

Stock is limited, so spaces are limited. One night only.

What we’ll be trying:


Highland Park 12-Year-Old
Highland Park 18-Year-Old
Highland Park Valkyrie
And something special from the archive


Harviestoun Ola Dubh 12
Harviestoun Ola Dubh 16
Harviestoun Ola Dubh 18

WHAT: Highland Park & Harviestoun Whisky & Beer Matching
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney
WHEN: Wednesday 17 October, doors open 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $60 / Guest $70

Posted: 24/09/2018