Skip To Main Content

Every product is carefully selected by our editors and experts. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission. Learn more. For more information on how we test products, click here.

Lark christmas cask release iii

2021 Australian Whisky Award Winners

The Best Australian Whiskey Brands for the year have officially been named at a star-studded event in Sydney. The 2021 Australian Whisky Awards brought the best distillers from around the country into one place, with a perennial fan favourite claiming top honours once again. Tasmanian icon and stalwart of the competitive Australian whisky industry, Lark Distilling Co. took home Whisky of the Year, Distiller/Producer of the Year and unsurprisingly, Distillery of the Year, but it wasn’t the only brand to snag a much-deserved accolade.

Australian whisky awards 2021
Image: Lark Distilling Co.

2021 Australian Whisky Awards – Winners List

Taking out the top prize on the 2021 Australian Whisky Awards was Lark Distilling Co.’s Christmas Cask Release III, coming just ahead of Overeem Bourbon’s 12 Year old and Archie Rose’s Whisky in Every Port. A fine showing of the country’s most impressive distillery and blenders the 2021 Australian Whisky Awards pushed seasonal releases to the forefront, emphasising the incredible array of produce on offer Down Under.

Whisky of the Year (Sponsored By Audio Influence & Wharfedale)

  • Gold – Lark Christmas Cask Release III
  • Silver – Overeem Bourbon 12 Year old
  • Bronze – Archie Rose Whisky in Every Port

The limited-run seasonal release comes by way of Lark head distiller Chris Thomson, who carefully selects Tasmanian red wine casks filled with the jus used by local artisan patisserie Jean Pascal, famous for its Christmas fruit mince pies. The casks, laden with fresh fruit notes are emptied and transported to the Hobart distillery where, Thomson and Co, fill them with the seasonal spirit. What you end up with is a rich nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla custard on the nose, opening to a gingerbread, citrus peel and liquid plum pudding with “lashings of yuletide cheer”.

Lark Christmas Cask Release III Tasting Notes

Nose: Aromatic spice-led notes of clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and dried citrus dance with the soft sweetness of stewed apples and vanilla custard.
Palate: The gentle spice and warmth of gingerbread meets the rich comfort of a Christmas plum pudding, citrus peel, sticky toffee sauce and all.
Finish: Long, complex and inviting.

Check it out

Whisky of the Year – Sponsored By Audio Influence & Wharfedale

  • Gold – Lark – Christmas Cask Release III
  • Silver- Overeem – Bourbon 12 Year old
  • Copper – Archie Rose – Whisky in Every Port

Distillery of the Year – Sponsored By The Old Barrelhouse

  • Gold – Lark Distilling Co.
  • Silver – Archie Rose Distilling Co.
  • Copper – Overeem

Distiller/Producer of the Year – Sponsored By Audio Influence & Wharfedale

  • Gold – Kristy Booth, Lark Distilling Co.
  • Silver – ‘Crafty’ Craig Field, Craft Works Distillery
  • Copper – Lisa Truscott, Archie Rose Distilling Co.

Personality of the Year – Sponsored By Audio Influence & Wharfedale

  • Gold – Matt Bailey, Scotch Malt Whisky Society Australia
  • Silver – Bill Lark, Founder Lark Distilling Co.
  • Copper – ‘Crafty’ Craig Field, Owner/Distiller Craft Works Distillery

Venue of the Year – Sponsored By Pure Scot

  • Gold – Archie Rose Bar and Cellar door
  • Silver – Whisky and Alement
  • Copper – Elysian Whisky Bar
Cameron syme
Image: Great Southern Distilling Company

Hall of Fame

In addition to the night’s major awards, Great Southern Distilling Company founder, Cameron Syme, was inducted into the Australian Whisky Hall of Fame. The man behind Limeburners Australian Single Malt was honoured with the status by Bill Lark, who noted the inductee’s incredible work forming the Australia Distillers Association.

“In 2005, Australia’s third gin distillery, and the first ‘craft gin’ distillery was launched under the Margaret River Distilling Company banner, and later was the first Australian distillery to make a mixed-grain and sour mash whisky,” Lark said. “(Syme) has achieved over 130 awards and accolades for the spirit he has produced. But for me, has quietly gone about helping out our industry in more ways than any of us have ever known.”

The journey to whisky legend has been a long and storied one for Syme. After growing up in a country town, the entrepreneur became a lawyer by trade before dipping his toes in the world of gin and whisky, founding three distilleries. Now, he can lay claim to an indelible legacy.

“For those earlier in the journey: don’t listen to the nay-sayers, the downers, the negative energy people – surround yourself with positive energy people,” Syme said in his acceptance speech, per The Shout. “Be kind, and dole out ‘good karma’, which I know from Bill and Lynn particularly. And to every kid who grew up in the middle of ‘Bum-fuck Australia’ – remember: ‘dream, believe, achieve.,”

Lark amaro cask single malt whisky
Image: Lark Distilling Co.

Australian Whisky Category Growth

Held on the rooftop Harbourside Room at the Museum of Contemporary Arts on Sunday, the 2021 Australian Whisky Awards was a celebration of the nation’s developing community of distillers and producers. Just last year, it was reported that consumers were driving a rapid move towards locally-produced whisky, spurring an incredible 150 per cent spike in sales for the category at Dan Murphy’s in a six month period. As a result, the bottle shop made the bold move to double its range of Australian whisky, making more room at the top for the country’s new players.

As we mentioned in our guide to whisky, category growth comes after a spate of global recognition. Early this year, Lark Distilling Co. secured the Best Blended Malt title at the World Whiskies Awards for its premier Symphony Nº1 release and in 2020, Melbourne distiller Starward took home Best Worldwide Whisky at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition. With established brands now branching out to an international audience, the timing has never been better for Australian whisky.

“It is a great time for Australian whisky, the groundwork paved by some of Australia’s modern craft distillers (Lark, Sullivan’s Cove and Bakery Hill in Melbourne) has set up the industry for growth and we are seeing more whisky distilleries releasing more consistent quality affordable whisky,” Sam Slaney, Australian whisky expert and production director at Starward Whisky tells us. “It’s a defining moment for Australian whisky, and we are seeing more distilleries not just making a single malt but using other grains and stills to produce an array of innovative whiskies including rye, wheat and mixed grain whiskies, as well as incorporating different malts into the process to lead flavour change.”

For local producers, the success and accolades earned over the past few years can be traced back to one man. Bill Lark, owner and founder of the Tasmanian icon re-invigorated an industry that had been hit hard by over-regulation, bringing a sense of craftsmanship back to Australian shores. More than 30 years later, Lark Distilling Co. is still on top Down Under.

General FAQs

slew of gold, silver and bronze medals acknowledging that over the last 30 years,

What is the best Australian whisky?

At the 2021 Australian Whisky Awards, the Christmas Cask Release III from Tasmanian icon Lark Distilling Co. was named the top drop. The seasonal release has notes of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla with a gingerbread, citrus peel and liquid plum taste on the palate.

What is the best whisky distillery in Australia?

Hobart icon Lark Distilling Co. is the most awarded whisky distillery in Australia. Over the past 30 years, Lark has secured a slew of gold, silver and bronze medals from the World Whiskies Awards, London Spirits Competition, Australian Distilled Spirits Awards and International Wine & Spirits awards.