Melbourne goes through a new spirit crush every few months or so. For a while there it was boutique vodka, then gin came along and we all learned the word ‘botanicals’, now everyone seems to be sipping Negronis and acting superior for some reason (where did that come from?) But good whisky is one of those anti-trend spirits. It was cool a decade ago, it’s cool now, and it’ll be cool in thirty years’ time when you’re sitting by the fire in your favourite carpet slippers rocking a single malt.
The problem most newbies make with whisky is starting with some peaty Scottish rocket fuel that’ll singe the eyebrows right off your face. You’ve got to know what you’re doing. Which is why we need events like World Whisky Day (20 May) to educate, illuminate and inspire.
If you want to look like a whisky-sipping badass, here’s what’s on in Melbourne for World Whisky Day.
Starward Whisky Party
Heads up, whisky nerds. Local label Starward are hosting a World Whisky Day Party their new Port Melbourne distillery. It’s a bit like when all those kids got to venture inside Willy Wonka’s factory, except odds are you won’t be turned into a giant bottle of whisky. There'll be whisky flights galore, the chance to tap your own bottle, straight from the cask, the Fancy Hanks food truck and a Starward bar choc-full of small batch whiskies you can't get anywhere else.
Deconstructed Whisky Cocktails At Dutchess
Put aside your distrust of all things ‘deconstructed’. This one is actually fun, and has a point. After all, with whisky cocktails, taste is everything—some people like them weak, and others prefer a consistency similar to paint thinner. CBD classic Dutchess is releasing a new whisky cocktail to celebrate World Whisky Day, and it’s called The Garden of Eden: a base of Fireball cinnamon whisky, dark rum, vanilla sugar syrup and half an ounce of lemon juice served in a glass that has been infused with smoke from singed cinnamon sticks. Build it yourself, along with apple segments, cinnamon sugar, honey and a wodge of lime. Delish.
Boilermakers At 505 Cellar
$18 boilermakers? Sign us the hell up. Craft beer and wine mecca 505 Cellar are doing limited-edition boilermakers for the big whisky day (FYI, a boilermaker is an American cocktail involving a glass of beer and a shot of whisky). They’ll be matching premium Scotch whisky with Hawthorn Brewing Co. beer all night. Think Glenkinchie with a cheeky Hawthorn Pilsner, Cragganmore with a punchy Hawthorn Golden Ale and Talisker Port Ruighe with Hawthorn Amber. Fair warning: boilermakers pack a wallop. Probs drink these sitting down.
Matched Whisky Tasting At PJ O’Briens
If you’re a proper whisky addict, you’ve already been through the range at Dan’s and the six closest boutique bottle shops. You’re looking for something new. Well on 20 May PJ O’Briens will be hosting a matched whisky tasting event with some brand new bottles, straight out of Ireland (along with new bourbons from Tennessee, but this is a whisky article so who cares). Your ticket gets you all the tastings you can stomach before security kicks you out, plus matching canapés and whisky wisdom from some of the best in the biz.
Whisky Flights At The Duke
You know it as Melbourne’s oldest pub, but we know it as the place that’s offering three premium whiskies for $20 on Saturday. It’s The Duke, obvs, and it’s throwing a World Whisky Day celebration that will go down very smooth. Three different whiskies, picked by the Duke team, for a simple lobster, plus some lovely views over The Forum and Fed Square. Not a bad way to spend an evening…
Exclusive Flights At Boilermaker House
The CBD's trendiest whisky joint is going all out this year. They're celebrating World Whisky Day with an ultra-exclusive flight of five rare and hard-to-get whiskies. The day will set you back $90, but you'll get to taste (among others) Starward Red Wine Cask whisky, tapped from a 20L behemoth, made from recovered ex-Pedro Ximinez Spanish Oak. There's also a few secret malts from Glenlivet, Springbank and Amrut. The highlight might just be the 10-year-old Warenghem Armorik cask, selected by Jeremy Daunay, the Australian importer of Armorik. You won't find it anywhere else in the country. Book early to secure a spot.
Image credit: Dutchess | Griffin Simm