Old Young’s Pavlova Vodka won Best Vodka.
Dan Murphy’s has revealed the 19 winners of its first Decoded Spirits Awards, including best gin, whiskey and mezcal.
Over 600 spirits were blind tasted by 10 judges over five days.
“Dan Murphy’s Decoded is about identifying exceptional quality and value for customers in the spirits category,” said James Duvnjak, Dan Murphy’s Spirits Category Manager and Decoded Spirits judge.
When COVID restrictions were first imposed, many customers started making cocktails at home – and that trend remains strong.
“Customers drink less, but drink better, so making a delicious cocktail at home has become a Friday or Saturday night event. Ingredients are important; more and more customers are looking for artisanal producers and innovative expressions of traditional spirits,” said Duvnjak.
Over 300 of the 600 Decoded Spirits entries were gin. NSW Archie Rose’s Distillery Bone Dry Gin was named Australia’s best gin, while South Australia Violet Gin from the 23rd Distillery was the best colored gin.
“Gin remains a customer favourite, and it’s great to see that Australian gin distillers continue to produce world-class drinks,” said Duvnjak.
Australian whiskey is a rapidly growing category, with Dan Murphy’s having seen sales double in the past 12 months. Corowa Distilling received the award for best Australian whiskey with its Single Malt Whiskey Characters.
“Our whiskey distillers have found a way to create a uniquely Australian spirit, and they now compete with the Irish and the Scots on the world stage for quality whiskey,” Duvnjak said.
“Rum is also experiencing a renaissance, and Australian rums have really stepped it up in recent years.”
Illegal Tender’s Western Australian Distillery Rum cut from the distiller was named Australia’s best rum. However, agave spirits – which includes tequila and mezcal – are the fastest growing spirits category for the leading beverage retailer.
“Mezcal is becoming increasingly popular among customers due to its various styles and different flavors,” Duvnjak said. “While tequila must be distilled in a specific region from only 100% Weber blue agave, mezcal can be produced from many different types of agave and so distillers can explore different styles and flavors outside areas that Tequila can reach.
All Decoded Spirits Award winners will be promoted at Dan Murphy stores across the country, which for some boutique producers like Illegal Tender Rum, Corowa Distilling and 23rd Distillery means they have almost quadrupled the number of stores in which their products are offered.
“It means a lot to us as a distillery. 12 months ago we were in 10 local Dan Murphy stores, and now with the opportunity to be spread across nearly 260 stores nationwide, it’s very exciting and at the same time intimidating for us,” said Dean Druce, General Manager of Corowa Distilling Co. “It’s great to be recognized for the hard work and tireless hours we’ve put in over the years.
“The future looks bright for Australian whisky, which has grown year on year since its inception 30 years ago. For Corowa Distilling co, we are increasing production and expanding our distillery experience to allow visiting customers to see the entire process from start to finish.
Although this is the first Dan Murphy’s Decoded Spirits Awards, Dan Murphy’s Decoded Wine Awards are now in their third year.
“We launched our Decoded Wine Awards in 2020 because we wanted to make great wines more accessible to our customers. The awards were a huge success with customers enjoying seeing great drops and vendors showcasing their products to more customers,” said Dan Murphy Managing Director Alex Freudmann.
“We are delighted to extend the success of the Decoded Awards to the Spirits category, and we hope that customers as well as distilleries will discover the value of the Awards.”
For more information on the Decoded Spirits Awards, visit https://www.danmurphys.com.au/discover/decoded-spirits-awards
The winners of Dan Murphy’s Decoded Spirits Awards 2022
Category: Australian Gin
Winner: Archie Rose Distilling Co. Bone Dry Gin Price: $89.99
Verdict: This is a superbly balanced and unashamedly juniper gin. Sweet on the palate, but it has that clean, dry finish that all gin lovers crave.
Category: international gin
Winner: Jawbox Small Batch Dry Gin Price: $64.99
Verdict: This little gin from Ireland was bursting with flavor, lovely peppers and spice, all balanced on the spine with juniper. Fantastic fall!
Category: Colored gin and sloe
Winner: 23rd Street Distillery Violet Gin Price: $80.99
Verdict: Butterfly pea flower gives this South Australian gin its beautiful ultraviolet color, but it’s not just a pretty sight! The judges appreciate the floral bouquet combined with its spicy and warm finish.
Product: Gordon’s 0% Price: $34.99
Verdict: It’s a light, refreshing and easy-going option that’s perfect for those who want to enjoy ABV-free gin. Delicious!
Product: Vodka Pavlova Old Young Price: $69.99
Verdict: It doesn’t get more Australian than that! This vodka from Perth’s Swan Valley ticks all the boxes – subtle sweetness and lovely floral notes.
Category: Brandy (including Cognac & Armagnac)
Product: Brandy St Agnes XO 15 years old Price: $109.99
Verdict: This is a star of an Australian product that has come up against very strong international competition, particularly cognac and armagnac. This eau-de-vie is subtle, but balanced. Beautifully crafted by St Agnes Distillery in South Australia.
Category: Australian Whiskey
Product: Corowa Characters Australian Single Malt Whiskey Price: $94.99
Verdict: This Australian single malt whiskey has been aged in wine barrels and features a balance of floral and sweet flavors. Hidden gem – simply divine. And less than $100.
Category: Scotch Whiskey
Product: The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask Single Malt Price: $129.99
Verdict: This incredibly smooth whiskey has been aged in two different barrels – American Oak and European Oak, both cherry-flavored – for 12 years, and it is simply divine. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most sought after whiskeys in the world.
Category: North American whiskey
Product: Maker’s Mark 46 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Price: $68.99
Verdict: This bourbon has deep, rich and bold flavors of vanilla, oak, caramel and spice – yum!
Category: international whiskey
Product: Mars Iwai Tradition Blended Japanese Whiskey Price: $109.99
Verdict: We love the combination of sweet and smoky in this smooth and elegant Japanese whisky. That hint of peat really gives it a full-bodied flavor.
Category: Australian rum
Product: Illegal Tender Rum Co Distiller’s Cut Rum Price: $84.99
Verdict: This Australian rum blew the judges away. It packs a punch, great for making cocktails. Flavors of cinnamon and spices, well rounded.
Category: international rum
Product: Ron Millionario Solera 15 Special Reserve Price: $76.99
Verdict: Deep and persistent flavor, ideal for sipping, long balanced flavor. A whiskey drinker’s rum!
Category: Spiced rum
Product: Captain Webb’s Two Swallows Orange Ginger Spiced Rum Price: $45.99
Verdict: This rum is definitely a rum for sweet tooths! Beautiful rich flavors great for mixing or sipping on the rocks.
Category: Aperitifs & digestives
Product: Aperitif Campari Bitter Price: $41.99
Verdict: A must-have for any home bartender – you can use this beautiful and versatile product to create an endless array of cocktails like the Negroni or the Americano, or simply enjoy it with sparkling water.
Category: Tequila Agave
Product: Patron Silver Tequila Price: $94.99
Verdict: What a crowd pleaser! This tequila has a smooth taste with a citrus aroma and a slightly peppery finish. Perfect for that classic Margarita cocktail.
Category: Agave Mezcal
Product: Burrito Fiestero Cenizo Mezcal Price: $94.99
Verdict: Absolutely stunning – this mezcal can be compared to a young peated whisky. A distinct sweet and fruity flavor with a slight amount of smoke gives this mezcal a smooth, well-balanced finish.
Category: Pre-Mixed Cocktails Price: $49.99 in CDS States (4-pack)
Product: Healing Tequila Tromba Tommy’s Margarita cans
Verdict: This cocktail is everything you want in a great Margarita. A convenient way to get this service on the spot every time!
Product: Cazcabel Tequila Coffee Liqueur Price: $59.99
Verdict: A tequila blanco was mixed with arabica coffee, and the result is absolutely delicious. Serve in a luxurious cocktail or carefully over ice.
Category: Asian spirits
Product: Luzhou Laojiao Zisha Daqu Baijiu Price: $102.99
Verdict: This Chinese liqueur is bursting with flavor and will truly blow your mind. An exceptional product!