People’s Choice 2019: Whisky of the Year, Winner Revealed!

Last month, we launched our first whisky awards, the ‘Peoples Choice: Whisky of the Year’ blind tasting competition saw Melbourne’s whisky community come down and taste 5 of our top selling whiskies, completely blind, and then submit a vote card to crown their top dram.

Before we reveal Melbourne’s favourite whisky for 2019, we would like to thank everyone that took the time to get involved. A month of blind-tasting and vote-casting has lead us to this point, so without further ado, here is Whisky & Alement’s Peoples Choice winner for 2019!

The Winner Is…

…Starward Nova!

Today, we are proud to award ‘Whisky & Alement’s, Peoples Choice 2019: Whisky of the Year’ to Starward Nova. Chosen blindly by the people of Melbourne, this trailblazing single malt whisky draws influence from the vibrancy of Australian red wines. Some casks for maturation come direct from the winery, un-charred, ensuring the wine’s flavour profile has a prominent impact on the spirit.

A dram that is – both literally and figuratively – close to the hearts of the Melbourne whisky community. The Starward distillery, lies a stones throw from Melbourne CBD in Port Melbourne. From the beginning, Starward was set to be a driving force on the modern Australian whisky landscape, and they continue to excel and exceed expectations. We at Whisky & Alement would like to recognise Starward for their continued consistency, innovation and authenticity, but most of all, for the strides they have made here on Australian shores as well as internationally, not just for themselves, but for the entire Australian whisky industry.

Image via Concrete Playground

Starward co-founder David Vitale weighs in:

Having your whisky chosen by patrons – above all other whiskies – in a venue like Whisky & Alement is really quite something – the best kind of recognition – as it is people voting with their hip-pocket. Despite having won lots of “best in classes” and other trophies over our short 6 years, this is the proudest accolade for the team and me. I’ve recently moved to the US and travelled far and wide both here and abroad this year and I can genuinely say that Whisky & Alement is world-class and a real gift to Melbourne. It’s not the hundreds of whisky on choice – though that’s important. It’s the team and their knowledge and passion to provide an experience for those that walk through the door, on the patron’s terms – perfectly matched to where they are at on their whisky journey. It’s exactly what inspires us every day – to offer people a deliciously accessible whisky that meets them where they are at. And I reckon that common link might just have been the reason why – amongst such amazing whiskies from around the world – Melbourne chose us.

Scroll down to see Melbourne’s top 25 whiskies of 2019

Our Peoples Choice flight whiskies.
Melbourne’s Top 5 drams

If you came in house to cast your vote, thank you! You may be wondering what the other 4 drams your ‘Peoples Choice’ flight were, well, wonder no more. Find out Melbourne’s top 5 and beyond, below.

The Top 5, in order, as voted by you!

1. Starward Nova, Australia, Single Malt Whisky

Starward Nova, previously Starward Wine Cask, is matured exclusively in local wine barrels. Some of these casks come direct from the winery and aren’t charred before the whisky goes into them.

2. Nikka Coffey Grain, Japan, Grain Whisky

Nikka Coffey Grain is made using the two Coffey stills at the Miyagikyo distillery which were imported from Scotland to Japan in 1963, and has a mash bill of 95% corn

3. Hibiki Japanese Harmony, Japan, Blended Whisky

Hibiki Japanese Harmony is a blend of Japanese malt and grain whiskies from Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita

4. Nikka From The Barrel, Japan, Blended Whisky

Easily one of the most recognisable Japanese blended whiskies on the market, this Nikka FTB combines both single malt and grain whiskies from the Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries, which are then married in a huge variety of casks

5. Lagavulin 16, Islay, Single Malt Whisky

One of Diagio’s Classic Malts of Scotland, Lagavulin runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just to try and keep up with ever-growing global demand

Check out the full list below!

  1. Starward Wine, Australia, Single Malt
  2. Nikka Coffey Grain, Japan, Grain Whisky
  3. Hibiki Japanese Harmony, Japan, Blended Malt
  4. Nikka From The Barrel, Blended Malt
  5. Lagavulin 16 Year Old, Islay, Single Malt
  6. Yamazaki 12 Year Old, Japan, Single Malt
  7. Caol Ila 12 Year Old – Islay, Single Malt
  8. Glenfiddich 12 Year Old – Speyside, Single Malt
  9. Ardbeg 10 Year Old – Islay, Single Malt
  10. Laphroaig 10 Year Old – Islay, Single Malt
  11. Ben Nevis 10 Year Old – Highland, Single Malt
  12. Balvenie 12 Year Old Double Wood – Speyside, Single Malt
  13. Redbreast 12 Year Old – Ireland, Single Pot Still
  14. Balblair 1989 Vintage – Highland, Single Malt
  15. Glendronach 18 Year Old – Highland, Single Malt
  16. Springbank 15 Year Old – Campbeltown, Single Malt
  17. Starward Two Fold – Australia, Blended Whisky
  18. Ardbeg Uigeadail – Islay, Single Malt
  19. Oban 14 Year Old – Highland, Single Malt
  20. Glendronach 12 Year Old – Highland, Single Malt
  21. Woodford Bourbon – USA, Bourbon
  22. Hakushu Distillers Reserve – Japan, Single Malt
  23. Port Charlotte 10 Year Old – Isle of Islay, Single Malt
  24. Talisker 10 Year Old – Isle of Skye, Single Malt
  25. Yoichi Single Malt – Japan, Single Malt

W&A Team Encouragement Award

Spring Bay Distillery – November 2018

While the world of whisky constantly evolves, we saw our long-standing pillars of the industry meet some worthy competition in 2019. So, Whisky & Alement would like to raise a glass in celebration of one small, family owned and operated, Australian distillery. This is an Australian distillery that from their first release in mid-2017, have now gone on to land their Bourbon Cask expression in the top 30 highest selling whiskies for 2019.

A beautifully crafted, small batch single malt, that sits snugly on our list between highly revered institutional powerhouses such as Yoichi and Balvenie.

Pictured: Co-founder and distiller Cameron Brett

This is an epic feat, but more than anything else, a testament to the consistency and incredible balance Cam and Suzy Brett achieve in their spirit, release after release. Sweet and and fruity, this is a spirit that immediately caught the noses of Whisky & Alement staff on a trip to Spring Bay Distillery late last year. It is our absolute pleasure to bestow the W&A Team Encouragement Award for 2019, to Spring Bay Distillery. Keep on doing what you’re doing, Cam & Suzy, it’s working!

The Whisky & Alement Team