A wide panel of whisky industry identities across Australia are about to have their vote on the inaugural Australian Whisky Awards categories following the public voting period.
The Awards are currently in the 14-day ‘expert’ panel period ahead of the gala night Sunday 21 March. It follows a period of public and industry nominations and votes to garner the finalists for this final stage of voting, which will have a specific weighting on the final results.
The awards are being run by a team headed by Niko Devlin, who also helms the Facebook group-turned independent bottler Australian Whisky Appreciation Society. The Awards are being run as a separate entity, however, with different backers and sponsors.
We’ve also selected a panel of judges across a broad range of industry professionals to be given a weighted vote
As well as the ‘industry’ cohort, the finalists will shortly be published for public voting also. Devlin told Whisky Ardent that it will be, “multiple choice ballot rather than a write in like the nominations.
“We’ve also selected a panel of judges across a broad range of industry professionals to be given a weighted vote. We will publish the judges list after the voting process is completed.”
WhiskyArdent understands that the panel will be made up of up to 50 industry professionals involved in or associated with the Australian whisky industry, without direct ties to distilleries. Bartenders, retailers, importers and journalists across Australia are amongst those believed to have been tapped to share their opinion.
“We felt that the Australian Whisky community deserved its own awards show and not just the issuing of an online accolade,” Devlin says. “A red carpet gala event where a physical award is handled out.”
The gala night will be held at the Crystal Palace room of Sydney’s Luna Park, with the ceremony to also be streamed live. The night will be headlined by a live performance by Grinspoon frontman Phil Jamieson.
The categories being voted upon include Whisky Of The Year, Whisky Distillery Of The Year, Whisky Distiller/Producer Of The Year, Whisky Personality Of The Year and Whisky Venue Of The Year.
Gold, silver and copper awards will be presented for each category. A ‘Dram Of The Decade’ will also be crowned.
“We want this to be the night of nights for Australian whisky, after the past year we’ve all had we want to give people a chance to go out get dressed up and enjoy an evening at a premier location, with five courses amazing food curated by myself and the award winning catering team at Luna Park,” Devlin says.
The whiskies on taste are being drawn from the AWAS bottlings, sourced from distilleries including Adams, Overeem and Black Gate.
Tickets to the gala night are being sold for $225 or $1,950 for a table of ten. Virtual tasting kits for the evening have already sold out.