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Latest Whisky & Spirits News

Treasured Distilleries In New Adelphi Single Casks


Every now and again you come across a whisky distillery that’s considered a “whisky drinkers’ distillery”. In real terms, that’s a fancy way of saying “here’s a whisky that the industry loves, but doesn’t really have a lot of traction as a single malt for the wider audiences.”

That could be for a number of reasons. Big blends might rely on that stock to bulk out their money-spinners, the style might date back to decades past which makes it unsustainable moving forward or it could just be something like being a little bit too weird! Either way, some of these distilleries have produced some of the finest whiskies we’ve ever had grace the shelves and we’re delighted to welcome a couple of them back in a new batch of single cask whiskies from the ever-brilliant Adelphi.



Everything you want from an older Clynelish (pictured top). The honey, the wax, the feeling that there’s something new around every corner.



Lucky enough to see this as an entry level single malt officially now, but Adelphi helped build the cult status of these older, peated highlands beauties. This comes from a period where they were still direct-firing their stills.



There’s a lot of love for the official Bunnas these days and a proliferation of independent releases from the sleeping Islay giant. Taste, not age, is what we’re looking for though and this is excellent. A big sherry cask that’s young enough to hold the distillery’s maritime style.



Release as part of the archive series, just 32 bottles globally of this re-issue. An overlooked Diageo work horse distillery that fetches big prices in the Special Releases outturns. Distilled 40 years ago. Whisky from a different era.

Posted: 15/05/2018
A June Night Of Japanese Whisky

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 another of our ‘A Night Of Japanese Whisky’ tastings in, 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 June.

As we’re a completely independent bottle store, we’ve got no brand alliances that we’re tied to so we’ll be featuring a range of whiskies – from established household names to the new kids on the block. If it tastes good, if it’s got an interesting story (and hopefully both),

We’ll be tracking down more in the coming weeks, looking for things not widely available (if at all) in Australia.

It will be hosted by The Oak Barrel’s whisky guy Scott Fitzsimons and follows on from the previous Japanese whisky nights, which have all sold out. We’ll be tasting six whiskies and you’ll be guided through each one, exploring the history, the production and (most importantly) the taste!

Tickets are on sale now and are strictly limited. One night only due to tight stock levels!


Yamazaki 12-Year-Old
Hakushu 18-Year-Old
Nikka All Malt
Mars Maltage Cosmo
Chichibu IPA Cask

More to be announced.

WHAT: A Night Of Japanese Whisky
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Thursday 7 June, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $60 / Non-Members $70

Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferrable. Line-up subject to change without notice due to unforseen circumstances.

Posted: 15/05/2018
New Aussie Whiskies: The Tide Is Turning

Australian whisky drinkers have been waiting for these moments for a long time. 2018 is showing the first signs of the changing tide, that is, a move towards a regular supply of local whisky.

The past few years have been dominated by whisky shortages, a result of incredible demand that was unforeseen five, ten years prior. As production has slowly been ramped up in this past decade, we’ve been expecting a flurry of releases and they look like arriving in the next 18 months or so. Distilleries both established and new are getting close to that magical window of having mature product ready to bottle.

Supply is still very modest, but for the first time in a long time we’ve got properly packed Australian shelves and in the past two weeks we’ve had as many as five distilleries and producers offer new expressions.

Another sign of the times is that we’ve ample new releases to announce another of our semi-regular Aussie Whisky Tastings that showcase the latest and greatest in the scene. Usually we can roll these events out every nine months or so depending on what we can get our hands on, but we held one as recently as February – which is an excitingly short break.

Quantities are still very small, but here is a line-up of brand new Aussie whiskies from around the country available now.



Starting close to home and Black Gate’s BG020 cask has come of age. Originally a sherry cask, it matured some of their rum before it was refilled with whisky new make. Lots of caramel.



Only the second Redlands release to make the mainland – this Paddock To Bottle was distilled at the original estate. Pinot noir cask matured.



The first whisky release from Mudgee's Baker Williams distillery. A unique offering distilled from malted barley, wheat and rye. Only 99 bottles were offered at can strength, with a lower proof release to follow. Savoury and crisp.


Quickly becoming one of favourite new distilleries, we're still in the very early days of this South Australian mob - but the quality is very, very high. Atlantic Crossing is a medium peat, port cask and showcases that seaside salted toffee note we're falling in love with.



It has been 18 months between drinks for Lark, the iconic Tassie Distillery suffering one of the most notable shortages in modern whisky history. Returned 1 May and while the regular expressions were snapped up as soon as they landed, we’ve held back the brand new Distillers Selection expression – a new range of single casks.



The second barrel from an undisclosed but Renowned NSW Distillery has surfaced. Distilled here but matured and bottled across the water by Tasmanian Independent Bottlers, a sherry casked piece of local whisky history.



Created by the same mind, the latest maulers from Heartwood both contain deep, dark whiskies from Lark. Night Thief is this week’s addition.

Posted: 10/05/2018
Aussie Whisky Tasting: The Latest And Greatest

Exciting times for whisky lovers at the moment – we’ve been blessed with a flurry of new releases from distilleries all across Australia.

In recent weeks we’ve had new expressions arrive in store from a range of different producers – Black Gate, Lark, Redlands, Tasmanian Independent Bottlers, Heartwood, Baker Williams… They’re coming from all over the country and showcasing some wildly varied approaches and results.

While we’re enjoying having absolutely packed Aussie whisky shelves, there is only one responsible course of action when that happens – let’s throw a tasting and open some of these babies!

Thursday 14 June we’ll be sitting down together to showcase they latest and greatest releases from the local scene. We’ve got a few releases squirreled away, but there’s some other things we’re expecting and are not allowed to talk about yet.

As with all of our in-house Australian whiskies tasting nights, the theme here is new. You’ll be amongst the first in the world to try some of these drams, many of them extremely limited.

We’re also gonna do a bit of travelling to see what we can dig up for the night. Hosted by The Oak Barrel’s in-house expert, Scott Fitzsimons, while we wait to confirm the full line-up we can reveal the distilleries we’ll be showcasing, even if we can’t talk about all the expressions yet. In alphabetical order:

Baker Williams (NSW) Lachlan First Release
Black Gate
(NSW) Watch this space…
(SA) Bogart & Bacall
Heartwood/Tasmanian Independent Bottlers
(TAS) Watch this space…
Redlands (TAS) Paddock To Bottle Cask RD010

At least one more to be confirmed!

WHAT: Aussie Whisky Tasting: What’s New In 2018
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Thursday 14 June, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $60 / Non-Members $70

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

Posted: 09/05/2018
Antique Lions Of Whisky: Butterfly Series Release and Tasting

The array from last year's Birds series tasting. Pic my May Lawrence.

The Oak Barrel's whisky team and fleet of whisky nerds are drooling at the arrival of a very special set of whiskies this week – the Butterfly series by Antique Lions Of Spirits. The second edition of these remarkable, rare single casks, we’re happy to report that in 2018 we’ve once again got one set to sell and one set to open.

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

Designed as a homage to the Moon Import bottlings prominent in Europe in the ‘90s and ‘00s the ‘Butterfly' series follows the lauded ‘Birds' series, both of which are exceedingly rare outside of Europe. Once again, in tribute to the mythical Moon Import releases these bottles carry some of the best packaging we’ve ever seen.

A series of six, these are all fantastically aged whiskies – ranging from a 44-year-old Speysider to a 25-year-old Bowmore. There’s also an Irish single malt and a pre-closure Bladnoch.

AVAILABLE NOW: Speyside, Bowmore, Bladnoch, Bunnahabhain, Glenrothes, Irish Single Malt

The whiskies have been selected to have an ‘old world European’ style, which is a rare treat down under. The Birds series showcased some of the best whiskies we tried last year - understated, soft, elegant and fruity with fantastic poise.

You can explore the full range here, while we'll be opening one set at a very special tasting in the Oak Barrel Cellar Room Tuesday 29th May.

It will perhaps be the only time the full set has been opened in a public event anywhere in the world.

WHAT: Antique Lions Of Whisky – ‘The Butterflies’ Tasting Night
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Tuesday 29 May, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $90 / Non-Members $100

Posted: 03/05/2018
Plantation Rum Tasting Party

Someone wise once said that nothing brings a smile to one’s face like rum does, and we’re certainly going to be doing plenty of that – both smiling and drinking rum – as we celebrate all things Plantation this May.

One of the most talked about rum producers globally, Plantation is a staple of Sydney back bars – but it’s not always prominent at retail. In this guided tasting we’re going to sample a wide range of the series and delve into the brand’s rich tapestry.

In 1989 the Maison Ferrand cognac house was taken over by Alexandre Gabriel, who planned to return one of the region’s oldest spirit brands to the height of its powers. Starting with cognac and then moving into other fine spirits, Gabriel scoured the Caribbean throughout the 1990s in source of rum.

From those trips the Plantation brand was born. Rums are transferred to France, where they undergo final maturations in a variety of casks. From there the Plantation range consists of classics, like the Barbados 5-Year-Old and OFTD Overproof, to limited edition single vintages from select countries and bartender favourites like the veritable Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple.

In celebration of rum and the Plantation brand, Maison Ferrand’s Brand Ambassador/Official Party Bringer Mitch Wilson will be taking us through a range of rums and styles from the famous house.

What we’ll be trying:

Plantation Barbados 5-Year-Old
Plantation Vintage Panama 2004
Plantation Vintage Guyana 2005
Plantation Vintage Jamaica 2002
Plantation OFTD (Overproof)
Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum
Plantation 20th Anniversary

WHAT: Plantation Rum Tasting
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Wednesday 16 May, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: $30 for members, $40 for guests

Posted: 20/04/2018
Masters Of Whisky Tasting: Diageo Legend Mike Collings

The Oak Barrel is pleased to confirm the second night in our Masters Of Whisky, with a very special guest who’s had a huge influence over the way we drink whisky.

Mike Collings spent over 35 years in the whisky industry and while he might not be a modern household name, the whiskies he helped develop are. Collings, who now lives in Adelaide, worked with Diageo – and its predecessor United Distillers – from the late ‘80s as the whisky industry was recovering from one of its biggest downturns in the past 70 years. As Marketing Director he was tasked with developing the Classic Malts series, a now legendary introduction of single malt whiskies to the world.

At the time single malt whiskies was still a very new idea for the majority of the whisky drinking community, but releases from distilleries like Lagavulin, Talisker, Cragganmore, Cardhu, Royal Lochnagar helped drinkers fall in love with the concept. Collings was integral to the launch of these whiskies – and the ever-growing Johnnie Walker stable, including Blue Label – as the company increased its worldwide share of the malt whisky market from 4 percent to 20 percent.

With more experience, stories and myths than most people’s ‘whisky’s I’ve tried lists’, Tuesday 24 April will be a very special night with a selection of whiskies personally developed by Collings.

Four of the whiskies will be Diageo/UD classics, while the other two will be Collings’ latest creations under the Spencer Collings label. They are the Founders Reserve, a gorgeous cask strength release that was a sold-out revelation at Sydney Whisky Fair 2016, and the exquisite Imperial Tribute, which is only bottled too-order.

What we’ll be trying:

Talisker 10-Year-Old
Cragganmore 12-Year-Old
Lagavulin 16-Year-Old
Johnnie Walker Blue Label
Spencer Collings Founders Reserve 10-Year-Old
Spencer Collings Imperial Tribute

WHAT: Masters Of Whisky With Mike Collings
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Tuesday 24 April, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: $30 for members, $40 for guests

Posted: 13/04/2018
The Balvenie Whisky Tasting: Direct From The Distillery

Steeped in history, tradition and one of the most famous names in Scotch whisky – we’re excited to be inviting The Balvenie into our Cellar Room.

Built in 1892, The Balvenie name has become synonymous with luxurious, soft single malts. The eight biggest selling single malt Scotch in the world, it’s always a good idea to explore their current releases and take a look into where they’re heading.

To help make the night special, The Balvenie Ambassador for Australia and New Zealand, Ross Blainey, is currently doing some very arduous work on behalf of us all. On the other side of the world he’s hunting through the distillery, picking out something cool for us to drink.

Whatever he digs up, well combine with some of the excellent core range and make a night of it.

Ross putting the hard yards in for the benefit of The Oak Barrel tastings.

Exact line up to be confirmed once Ross finishes his journey so we can work out was the best matches with whatever he’s found are.

One night only and tickets are strictly limited.

WHAT: The Balvenie With Ross Blainey
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Thursday 26 April, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: $40 for members, $50 for guests 

Posted: 11/04/2018
An Evening With Husk Distillery: A Little Rum, A Little Gin

It’s a little last minute, but we absolutely couldn’t say know to the team at Husk Distillers when they told us they’d be making a rare trip to Sydney and -even rarer – had a free night to pour some of their delicious booze.

Based in Northern New South Wales, Husk was founded by the Messenger family – Paul and Mandy with daughters Harriet, Edwina and Claudia. Inspired by the great rums of the world and feeling that top quality rums were under-represented in Australia, they worked towards a uniquely Australian paddock-to-bottle Agricole rum.

A distillery built from scratch in a location unique to rum production, they harvest fresh sugar cane and process it through their own mill. Because their rum can only be made from fresh juice from the crushed cane, their production only happens through the harvest season – August to November.

With rum needing to mature for at least two years, legally, it’s no wonder that releases from this very young distillery are few and far between, let alone very sparse when they are around!

As a result, the team have also turned their hand to gin – with the famous Ink Gin the result.

With 2018 sizing up as a big year for the Messengers (their new distillery will be complete as they rebound from the 2017 floods that devastated the Tweed Valley and their farm) we’re delighted that co-founder Harriet Messenger will take us through their products in a fun, casual night.

We’ll be trying the Ink Gin alongside a swathe of their rums – the virgin cane (white rum), Tumbulgum agricole first release and their brand new Spiced Bam Bam – in a few different ways. We might even get you to make cocktails with us.

Tickets are strictly limited, and pricing is very keen for the value of what you’ll be tasting, so get in quick for top shelf drinks and laughs.

WHAT: Husk Distillers Rum & Gin Tasting
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Monday 9 April, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: $20 for members, $30 for guests 

Please note, tickets are non transferrable and non refundable. Line-up subject to change without notice.

Posted: 03/04/2018
New Whiskies From Historic Cadenheads

Last year Cadenheads – Scotland’s oldest independent whisky bottler – celebrated their 175 anniversary. Marked with a selection of casks, a range of those expressions have now landed in Australia.

Located in Campbeltown, Cadenhead is owned by J&A Mitchell – the family owned business behind the Springbank and Glengyle distilleries. The ethos of traditional methods and hands-on production evident at those distilleries is also found at Cadenhead. Whiskies are chosen on flavour, not reputation, and any finishes or marrying periods are certainly not rushed.

We’ve dug through the list of new Australian arrivals to find some fascinating and wonderful drams from the 175th anniversary release and beyond.

See the latest Cadenhead arrivals here.

Cadenhead Creations Rich Fruity Sherry 36-Year-Old

A stately, richly sherried blended whisky with some secrets within.


Burnside 28-Year-Old

Rare example teaspooned single cask from a famous distillery that is quite illusive to independent bottlers.


Strathclyde 28-Year-Old

An awesome single grain from the oft-overlooked Glasgow distillery.


Balmenach 12-Year-Old

One of the rarest distilleries by single malt standards. Built in 1824, but few really know what the distillery tastes like.


Glen Spey 15-Year-Old

A light, fresh expression from the Diageo workhorse in Rothes.


Mannochmore 20-Year-Old

Quickly becoming a top five favourite distillery. A baby by Scotland’s standards but the indies are getting some great casks.


Posted: 27/03/2018