After countless cocktails, even more drams, and a whole host of whisky-fueled fun, Sydney Whisky Week (SWW) has come to a close for another year. While we certainly feel a tinge of sadness that we now have to wait a whole 12 months to do it all over again, we take comfort in knowing that a fantastic time was had by all in attendance.
With too many expressions to fit in a typical 7-day week, this 11-day celebration transformed our fine city by the harbour into a veritable whisky wonderland; drawing some of Sydney’s best bars and the world’s finest distilleries into collaborations that resulted in a number of one-off whisky and food experiences that will linger in the memory long after the draining of the last dram.
A partnership between Man of Many and The Whisky List, SWW 2023 offered attendees a rare peek behind the whisky-maker curtain, providing insights into the distilling process with presentations from the experts themselves, along with an abundance of rare expressions, unusual pairings, and delightful surprises. While it would be impossible to pick our favourite event from this bountiful celebration of the water of life, below we’ve collected some of our highlights (in no particular order) from this week of whisky.
Coastal Stone Whisky | 10 May
If there was any doubt that anticipation for SWW 2023 was high, the number of early-birds at this kick-off event soon took care of that notion. Arriving at The Roosevelt in Sydney’s Potts Point, guests were welcomed with a Walkin’ After Midnight cocktail, a twist on the classic Manhattan that was created by The Roosevelt’s team using Coastal Stone Nor’Easter Single Malt Whisky, Mancino Chinato Vermouth, Luxardo Cherry Liqueur and Blackstrap Bitters. David Whittaker and Vanessa Wilton – Manly Spirits Co.’s co-founders – and brand ambassador Maurizio Furiani were there to greet the crowd, which consisted of both die-hard Manly Spirits Co. fans and people curious to taste these local whiskies for the first time.
After an introduction and toast from The Whisky List’s Scott Allan, the evening’s four-course dinner commenced with a range of dishes designed to pair perfectly with the newest Coastal Stone release, the Italian Luxe Trio (Sangiovese, Aglianico and Montepulciano). Guests enjoyed antipasti, pasta and steak dishes before finishing up with a classic Italian Tiramisu.
What a privilege it was to hear from the team behind Manly Spirits Co., makers of a unique whisky boasting an unmistakable Sydney identity. If the Coastal Stone offering is anything to go by, Aussie whisky has a bright future indeed.
Glenmorangie Delicious & Wonderful Whisky Tasting Paired with Desserts | 16 May
When Glenmorangie decided to call its SWW event ‘Delicious & Wonderful’ there was never an ounce of danger that it might amount to false advertising. However, what we experienced at Grain Bar on that Tuesday evening exceeded even our loftiest expectations. The room’s wood and copper tones provided the perfect atmosphere to dive into a range of Glenmorangie’s finest single malt Scotch whiskies, but guests were first treated to a refreshing Glenmorangie-powered highball, served with oysters, polenta fries, charcuterie, and spiced fried chicken.
Upon finding their seats, guests were presented with five whiskies and five dessert bites, each carefully paired for optimum deliciousness. Thankfully, Glenmorangie’s national brand ambassador Kurtis Bosley was on hand to share why the label’s whisky is so special – with the tallest stills in Scotland, it produces a remarkably light and delicate distillate – as guests sampled and savoured the incredible range of complex favours offered up by the remarkable desert and whisky combinations. All in all, the evening was nothing short of a match made in whisky-lover’s heaven.
Glen Moray Cask Explorer | 17 May
Doubling as an introduction to Alfy’s – a very new whisky and cocktail bar in the heart of Sydney’s CBD – this evening saw 25 guests explore a range of outstanding drams, guided by Glen Moray’s global brand ambassador, Iain Allan, who flew to Sydney for the event with some highly prized whiskies in tow.
Brisbane-based and globally renowned bartender Millie Tang kicked off proceedings with a signature cocktail, the Early Retirement (Pineapple Spiced Honey, Glen Moray Chardonnay Finished Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Carbonated Coconut Water & Lemon Bitters), before guests were enraptured by Iain’s insights into the world of Glen Moray, a true Speyside Scotch distillery. It was particularly fascinating to hear how Glen Moray was the first to create “wine-mellowed” whisky – a process we now call “finishing” – and the way the team has embraced Speyside peat, a very different beast to Islay peat.
Living up to Glen Moray’s reputation as a cask explorer since 1897 (and much to the delight of those present), some of the expressions sampled on the night had never been seen in Australia before, like the 10YO Chardonnay Finish “Elgin Edition”, Warehouse 1 Oloroso Cask, and a Peated Port Finish. Plus, not one complaint was uttered as the night wrapped with the Death & Taxes, a final mouth-watering cocktail from Millie Tang.
Waterford Farm to Table Irish Whiskey Masterclass | 18 May
For the final SWW tasting guests were invited to The Doss House, a cosy, Irish-inspired whisky bar nestled in the basement level of one of Sydney’s signature sandstone heritage buildings. Over three sessions, James Cowan of Waterford Irish Whisky delved deep into the origin and importance of whisky’s initial source of flavour: the grain. Waterford holds grain in higher regard than almost anyone else, only sourcing it from Ireland because of the country’s ideal soil and microclimate conditions. Plus, it’s one of the only distilleries to release certified organic or biodynamic expressions.
Guests grazed on cheese, charcuterie and toasties as they tasted five whiskies, finishing on an exciting final dram using peat sourced exclusively from Ireland, which is an offering only Waterford currently has within its range. James fielded questions and demonstrated the extent of Waterford’s commitment to transparency by sharing that every bottle’s label features a blockchain code that reveals the farm where its grain was grown, when it was distilled, and more fascinating details whisky-lovers will appreciate.
After proceedings came to an end, a few of the guests (and SWW staff) may have stayed on for a cheeky Guinness and Waterford whisky boilermaker to finish up the night.
Until Next Time!
While Sydney Whisky Week 2023 has indeed come to a close, it was such a success and brought so much joy to Aussie whisky aficionados, we couldn’t be more excited for next year.
Be sure to keep an eye out on Man of Many for news of Sydney Whisky Week 2024, which we’re sure will see this celebration of our favourite spirit return bigger and better than ever before. Until next time, Slàinte Mhath!