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This is how you can get your hands on Australia’s oldest whisky

This whisky was distilled in the 90s.

Sullivans Cove
Sullivans Cove

If you don’t imagine whisky when you think about Australia, you haven’t been paying much attention to the Southern Hemisphere country in the last few decades. Brands like Lark, Archie Rose, Starward, and Sullivans Cove (among countless more) are doing big things in the whisky world. While we could spend a whole article writing about Australian whisky, today we’re most concerned with the latter.

And while we love everything this Tasmania-based, award-winning distillery puts out from its American Oak, French Oak, and Double Cask to its limited-edition releases, today we’re interested in something a little older. That’s because recently the iconic brand released Australia’s oldest whisky.

Australia’s oldest whisky

Sullivans Cove
Sullivans Cove

The Sullivans Cove 24-year-old American Oak Second-Fill barrel is the oldest Australian whisky to date. One of the distillery’s “Old & Rare” releases, this second-fill barrel was filled with single malt whisky back on October 5th, 1999. It was aged for a full twenty-four years until it was finally bottled on January 5th, 2024. While Sullivans Cove is a brand that seems like it’s been around for decades, when this whisky began aging, the distillery was only five years old.

An exceptional release

Whiskey glass
Thomas Park/Unsplash

They’re only releasing 335 bottles of this very rare and memorable whisky. Clocking in at a potent 104-proof, this is the kind of whisky that collectors and fans of rare, complex, sippable whiskies drool over. Not only is this a special whisky itself, but it comes in a hand-crafted solid oak box and even comes with a letter of authenticity signed by Heather Tillott, the Sullivans Cover Distillery Manager.

“Deeply inviting. The epitome of well-aged Sullivans Cove spirit at its full potential. With the transformation this cask has undertaken over 24 years, and this whisky reflects a careful and patient approach, illustrating the significance of nurturing the spirit throughout its maturation journey,” Tillott is quoted on the distillery’s site. “The result is nothing less than astounding, HH0004 exudes depth and complexity from the moment it’s nosed, with a rich interplay of floral, sweet, and savory elements.”

What does it taste like?

Whiskey bottles
Adam Wilson/Unsplash

According to Sullivans Cove, this very rare single malt whisky begins with a nose of sweet treacle, anise, maple candy, buttered popcorn, dried cherries and other fruits, cinnamon, oak, chocolate, and gentle spices. The palate is a mix of candied nuts, maple candy, honey, peppercorns, cinnamon, aloe vera, caramel, toasted marshmallows, caramelized sugar, and oaky.

The finish is warming and lingering and ends with a final flourish of fresh leather, vanilla beans, dried tropical fruits, floral notes, caramel candy, lemon, and oak. It’s the kind of whisky that deserves to be enjoyed neat on a cool evening by a roaring campfire.

How to get a bottle

Whiskey in front of a window
S. Tsuchiya / Unsplash

Now we’re on to the tricky part. Since this whisky is so rare, you can’t just go into your neighborhood liquor store and grab a bottle. If you want one of these bottles, not only will you have to pay the suggested retail price of $2,500 (Australian), but you’ll also have to join an online ballot in hopes of being selected to purchase one. The ballot opens on May 20th, and you can sign up here.

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Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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