Statement Regarding Sydney Whisky Fair 2020


Well, hasn’t 2020 been a year.

From devastating bushfires to global pandemics, they’ve affected every aspect of our lives and their impact will be felt for a long time to come.

To get straight to the point and answer the plethora of requests we’ve received in the past two weeks, unfortunately the current state means that Sydney Whisky Fair 2020 will not take place in its usual time slot of the last week of August.

We will continue to monitor the situation towards the end of the year, but at this stage do not have a proposed date for a physical event of that scale to take place.

We will mark the Sydney Whisky Fair week of celebrations August 24-29 in a different manner, which will be announced soon.

There are a few reasons for this, with the safety of our customers, exhibitors and staff members the top one:

  • Preparations for Whisky Fair start the day after the previous one finishes and while we were planning big things for 2020 right up until the lockdown period, that three months pause has meant that we don’t feel 100 percent confident that we can deliver an event up to the standard of Australia’s favourite whisky festival.
  • We feel like that cut-off, point-of-no-return for preparations to have kicked back into gear was a couple of weeks ago and there is still no absolute stability on what the next weeks and months will look like. The recent second wave in Victoria is an example of that.
  • Interstate travel is still an unknown and even if all borders are open and flights operating, we don’t want to pressure our star exhibitors into travelling when they’re not comfortable. A big part of what makes Fair so special is the gathering of distillers from around Australia and the world and it wouldn’t be the same without them.
  • The situation around Australia and the world is continually evolving. We don’t feel 100 percent confident that measures for social distancing and overall capacity today or next week would still be suitable for the last week of August. We’d hate to find ourselves in a position of having to refund tickets and disappoint people for things that are potentially out of our control.

As disappointing as it is to not hold an 11th annual Sydney Whisky Fair – particularly after the joyous success of the 10th anniversary last year – we’ve still got some tricks up our sleeves.

In times of great disruption there is also opportunity and we’ve loved the various virtual tastings we’ve shared with you. We’re currently investigating some new ideas for events – physical, virtual and both – that we hope to be able to announce soon.

Physical in-store tastings will absolutely come back this year, and we expect that to happen on a small scale from August. We will be looking towards quality over quantity.

One thing is for sure, whatever we do it will be up to The Oak Barrel and Sydney Whisky Fair standard. Expert hosts, rare and unique whiskies, and rooms full of knowledge.

We will be marking the Whisky Fair Week – August 24-29 – in some respect, with details of that to come soon.

While we are working what the end of the year looks like, we’d also encourage you to consider visiting your local bar and taking a trip to one of the many excellent destinations in regional NSW.

As much as no Whisky Fair sucks for us, it has been a far tougher year for those who put food on our table and drinks in our glasses.

– Here’s to sharing the spirit with the OB Team soon.