The first release of tickets to Sydney Whisky Fair 2019 have sold out, 24 hours after tickets were released to the general public.

The second and final release of tickets will be issued Wednesday 19 June at 11am. Once again, Oak Barrel members will receive a 24-hour pre-sale window before any remaining tickets are released to the general public Thursday 20 June at 11am.

Tickets sold at record speed in 2019, particularly in the first hour of the pre-sale with 25% of the event’s overall capacity snapped up almost instantaneously. This is despite a slightly increased capacity from last year, thanks to an increased number of whisky exhibitors.

Further details on the event, including confirmed exhibitors, will be released in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to



They may have appeared at Sydney Whisky Fair years ago, but Chicago’s Koval Distillery are back with a whole new look in 2016 when they arrive at The Oak Barrel.

From The Heart Of The Windy City

Based in Chicago, Koval is one of America’s most progressive distilleries. Founded by Dr. Robert Birnecker and Dr. Sonat Birnecker-Hart in 2008 – a husband and wife duo who gave up academic careers – it was the first legal distillery in the city since the mid-1800s. That in itself presented problems.

Completely organic and kosher, the Birneckers – who juggled children and distilling in the early days – have always chased a clean spirit and place a big emphasis on the ‘heart’ of their spirit cut. In some ways it’s a surprise that they’re making spirit at all.

koval-bottlesJust as they decided to set up a distillery with their young family and leave careers behind them, the American economy was about to collapse. Locally, prohibitive city laws prevented them from running tours or having any retail presence on their site. They were only changed by lobbying from the duo, an effort which has paved the way for other Illinois craft distilleries.

A mixture of smarts and sheer-bloody-mindedness has led to the Koval we see today, which in its current state is launching into Australia August 2016 – an event we’ll be marking with an intimate masterclass late July.

Part of their range of expressions, Koval lay claim to what is believed to be the world’s only millet whiskey.

Millet refers to a group of small grass varieties which carry seeds. A prominent crop throughout Africa and Asia, it is often used for cereal.

While it is used as a base grain for spirits in Nepal, Koval’s millet whiskey – the grain sourced in this case from an organic farmer in the Midwest – is the only expression of its type.

The expression is distilled from 100% millet grain, and the distillery has had to be a bit creative to manage to process.

A specific Alpha enzyme is used in the mashing period to prevent the millet going ‘gummy’ – a trick they also use for their 100% rye grain whiskey.

The fact that their using single grain mash bills is also a rarity these days.

They’re enjoying millet so much that event their bourbon is distilled from a mash bill of 51% corn (the required minimum) and 49% millet.

Other expressions include the 4 Grain – a mash of oat, malted barley, wheat and rye.

All of these expressions are bottled as single barrels, having matured in 30 gallon (approximately 113 litre) casks.

The Birneckers have used Kothe stills since the beginning. Kothe were so happy with the whiskeys Koval made the Birneckers became their North American representatives. Along with their consultation duties, Robert and Sonat have had an input into the establishment of 90 distilleries across America.

Koval will showcase their whiskey expressions at this year’s sold out Whisky Fair, while their award-winning gin will feature at the official round-table tasting to launch the brand’s arrival into Australia in our upcoming Masterclass.





– Scott Fitzsimons



One of the first distilleries to confirm for Sydney Whisky Fair 2016, we’re delighted Limeburners making the long trip across this wide land to showcase once again at The Oak Barrel.

Award Winning Whisky From The Wild West

One of the great appeal’s of whisky is the sense that a spirit can taste like the place it came from. That the environment in which it was produced has had an fundamental impact on the finished product – one that you couldn’t replicate anywhere else or remove it from itself, even if you wanted to.

limeburners-article-bottleLimeburners is one such whisky. It can be high octane, spice-filled, diesel-laden, challenging and delicate – sometimes all at the same time. What else would you want from far-flung regions of Western Australia? A proud state built on the sweat and industry of a resources boom but with culture and community woven into its very fabric.

Founded in 2004 by Cameron Syme Limeburners, the first WA distillery to legally distill a single malt whisky, has been a quiet constant on the Australian whisky landscape in the past half-a-decade. They’ve evolved from their now-mythical early casks (“this is diesel fumes and Weet-Bix – amazing!”) to their current range of expressions and cask variation.

As well as the Limeburners single malts, their ‘American-style’ Tiger Snake Whiskey (note the “e”) is a batch-released sour mash distilled from corn, barley and rye. It was the first (legal) whiskey of its type in Australia.

Their primary Great Southern distillery is located in Albany, a seaside city in the south of the state, although Cameron opened the doors on their second distillery in the wine and tourist-rich Margaret River region November 2015. Located not far north east from Albany (by WA terms – it’s still a four-hour drive), and also on the coast, the Margaret River Distilling Company has a Tassie-made copper pot still, just like the Albany location.

Their spirit has always been firmly unique.

Their barley is sourced from the farming rich south west of the state and their barreling involves some very old casks – some dating to 1930s bourbon houses. Their water comes from nearby limestone aquifers and filtered rain water, blown over from melted ice caps Antarctic.

The vast majority of their output is single cask releases, which yield no more than a few hundred bottles. There is a solera vatted release now available in chain stores, but Whisky Fair will be focusing on these unique single cask releases.

As previously announced, Great Southern Distilling Company (the company behind Limeburners and Tiger Snake) founder Cameron Syme will be presenting a Fair Masterclass Monday 18 July (the first Fair Masterclass of the six-week run-in) showcasing a couple of their as-yet-released expressions.

When the Fair comes around you can expect their Port and Sherry expressions, alongside their award-winning peated whisky.

The nature of the single cask offerings mean that the releases will always differ slightly.

The whiskies we tried at last year’s Fair are different to the ones we’ll have at this year’s. For the counters out there, the highest number cask we have on the shelf currently is M215. The double-digit casks must surely be acquiring some real value by now.

This list of awards bestowed upon various expressions from Limeburners is extensive. Perhaps the most notable one are their recent recognitions: Champion Australian Distiller and Champion Australian Whisky/Small Batch Spirit (Heavily Peated Cask M226) at the 2016 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards. Their Heavily Peated also won the Champion Trophy for the same awards in 2015. The Tiger Snake was named Australia’s best Blended Whisky at the 2016 World Whiskies Awards. There’s a slew of gold and silver medals, which would be a bit extensive to list here, as well.

We gleefully welcome back Limeburners and Tiger Snake to the 2016 Sydney Whisky Fair and also look forward to a very intimate tasting with Cameron to taste what the future holds for those from out in the wild west.





– Scott Fitzsimons

Top image of the Albany distillery