From craft beer to artisanal spirits, the huge trend of keeping it small is booming in Australia…
As a whole, Australia’s industries lag that of America by a few years. Take the trend of craft beer for example. Australians were sipping away on VB and Tooheys whilst Americans were already completely hooked onto the spell of craft. In 2014, an incredible growth in the craft beer industry in Australia has seen craft breweries pop up in almost every town. Sydney alone has craft breweries in the northern beaches, far west, inner west, CBD and the southern shire – all of which are thriving in this new found appreciation for the craft of beer making.
Feeding off this trend and those who follow it, new ventures have popped up all over Sydney – we see brewery tours, multiple craft beer festivals and even a full week dedicated to this golden liquid, the Sydney Craft Beer Week. The huge growth in this industry has created countless jobs, new opportunities and a culture of small batch appreciation.
If we analyse this lag, and look to America for up-coming trend predictions – the next one is quite easy to see (and I do believe anyone in the industry is already feeling the rise of this one). The National Restaurant Association in America surveyed around 1,300 professionals and asked what they believed the top 5 alcohol and cocktail trends will be in 2015. First on this list; Micro-distilled/artisan spirits.
It would seem that as a majority, people are turning their backs on the mainstream and looking to dabble in the minority. We’ve seen it with craft beer and now, the rise of artisan spirits is set to take Australia by storm.
Noticing this movement towards artisan spirits, Sydney craft beer brewery, Young Henrys, decided to install a small distillery inside their brewery in Newtown. Craft beer brews side by side with their small batch gin, “Noble Cut” – The first batch is on sale now, being distributed after Easter.
When asked why they decided to add gin to their list of brews, Young Henrys Richard Adamson explained, “We certainly feel that artisan spirits are in the spotlight at the moment. Australian spirits have been of an amazing quality for a long time but it’s only been recognised by the rest of the world recently. Now Australian’s are catching on to the fact that there is a wide selection of spirits made in their own backyard. By using hops and Australian botanicals such as Pepper Berry and Bush Tomato, our Gin reflects that we are brewers with a fascination with native ingredients which brings a unique perspective to what artisan sprits can be.”
Sullivan’s Cove is a small batch luxury whiskey distillery in Tasmania who received the title of “The World’s Best Single Malt” in London’s World Whiskey Awards in 2014. Established in 1994 and now distributed to 11 countries worldwide, this distillery has stood the test of time and have noticed a shift in the Australian industry of late.
Another fast growing Australian made spirit is Alaskan Rock Vodka. Run out of Sydney, this small batch vodka company decided to set itself apart from the ‘standard vodka’ made from potato or sugar - instead using malt barley and distilling their syrupy vodka in copper pots in Tasmania. Sampled by a-list visitors to Australia such as Skrillex, Trivium and Royal Blood; Nadia, the brains behind Alaskan Rock says, “We're all about great hand-made spirit and fabulous design bottles. And with our bottles being produced for us in Mexico and using black glass (which is uncommon) aligning the timing of spirit and bottle runs is a bit like aligning planets. Our runs will always stay small. We would like to grow to 10000 a year - that's still small batch in the spirits biz - but we're happy where we are right now.”
On top of these individual spirits, Sydney has now welcomed several specialised ‘spirit’ bars, which feature these small batch liquors. Amongst these, The Barber Shop in Sydney specialises in gin, with artisan labels from Europe, USA and Australia whereas The Baxter Inn on Clarence Street has around 360 different types of whiskey. Not to be forgotten, Melbourne has joined this artisan following with Bad Frankie in Fitzroy showcasing a huge range of boutique Australian spirits as well as several other specialised liquor bars across the City.
This incredible interest in local, independently produced spirits has allowed companies such as White Possum, a subscription service which delivers Australian spirits to your doorstep every month, meet the growing demand of Australian consumers. The alcohol retail king, Dan Murphy’s, has also seen a “ten fold” increase in the amount of boutique spirits it now stocks on its shelves.
Whatever your poison, the trend of small batch artisanal producers is booming and locals nationwide are trying their hands at everything from vodka and gin to whiskey and bitters. With the incredible standard of products being produced, mediocre products are quickly discontinued and artisans practice and refine their skills to produce world-class products right here in our backyard.