Sullivans Cove: The Top Single-Malt Whisky in the World

Sullivans Cove: The Top Single-Malt Whisky in the World

Imagine a whisky distillery with a track record like this:

  1. The head distiller has been inducted into the global Whisky Hall of Fame.
  2. Winning the “World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt” prize at the World Whiskies Awards in 2019 (for the French Oak Single Cask Whisky, for the record).
  3. This followed winning the same award in 2018 (for the American Oak Single Cask Whisky).
  4. That meant becoming the only distillery in history to win that award twice.
  5. In 2014, the French Oak Single Cask Whisky was also named “World’s Best Single Malt” at the World Whiskies Awards, making Sullivans Cove the only distillery from its home country to ever win that award.
  6. Over recent years, Sullivans Cove’s various malts have won more medals, awards, trophies, and golds than Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt at their peaks.
  7. It is not just the critics who are enamored: a bottle of the American Oak Single Cask Single Malt sold for a national record at Christie’s, going for £6,600. Proceeds went to charity.
  8. Throw in a heap of accolades for its whiskies from Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, including a Liquid Gold ranking and a Best Malt award.
  9. And finally, a number of international awards for the brandies – not a bad sideline.

Accomplishments like that must surely fall to one of the truly famous Scottish distilleries? One with a long and distinguished history with a series of much-loved whiskeys enjoyed by malt lovers the world over. A distillery with endless barrels of ancient nectar, a household name.

Not quite.

The distillery in question just turned 30 years old this year, and not even it would dispute that the early years were somewhat uninspiring. How it has turned things around! And quickly!


Sullivans Cove: The birthplace of Tasmanian whisky

In 1994, on an island at the far end of the world, a distillery was born from humble beginnings. Away from the hard stare of the whisky establishment, they were free to explore and perfect our process. They were informed by the past, but also inspired by the possible. Bringing a distinctly Tasmanian twist to a whisky craft, shaped by centuries of practice.

Slowly, they reconnected with the ‘why’ of whisky.

20 years later, this commitment to carefully crafting exceptional whisky, inspired by nature and patiently aged, was rewarded when Sullivans Cove was named the World’s Best Whisky. Overnight the secret was out. Special things were quietly happening on this small island, and whisky lovers globally were intrigued.

At the opposite end of the globe to whisky’s original birthplace, Sullivans Cove was turning the whisky world on its head. Obsessively and slowly handcrafting single cask whisky, with no two batches the same. Each, an opportunity for exploration.

Today, Sullivans Cove remains committed to seeking the sublime.

At the distillery in Hobart, they use our human senses to nurture each cask to its natural peak. A thousand tiny decisions go into helping each batch of whisky reach its full potential.

Beyond putting Tasmanian and Australian whisky on the global map, they hope to help cultivate a new generation of whisky lovers. Discerning seekers, who are looking to experience something out of the ordinary, and who appreciate our intimate and heartfelt approach to handcrafted whisky distilling.

In a world of instant gratification and impatient consumption, they offer an alternative. Genuinely rare whisky which can’t be rushed, and which can never be replicated.

Sullivans Cove: Production

Whisky is the main focus, but Sullivans Cove also produces exceptional brandies as well as gins and vodka.

Most of the whiskies tend to be very small production, sometimes a single cask or perhaps two casks. Prices vary throughout the range but expect to pay between AUD$200 and $1500 depending on the product.

There are a series of different oaks used and these, in turn, have had varied past lives. An example is the current release, aged Fourteen years and Two months years as a Single Cask, made in French oak previously used for tawny port-style fortified wine. Being a single cask release, there are only 421 bottles in total for the world.

Sullivans Cove has also released its older product, an 16-year-old whisky. It is not an easy task to find one, but these spirits are definitely worth chasing.

The processes at Sullivans Cove include avoiding chill filtration, believing that by doing this, a method that leaves all the “oils and fats” in the whisky, the texture and depth benefit. Rather, they give the whiskies an extended period of settling at ambient temperature, so that “the heaviest particulate can fall out of solution and be removed with a simple paper filter.”

This process is called flocking. And Sullivans Cove goes a step further with some whiskies, avoiding this entirely so the whisky sees no filtration and is completely natural.


Why Single Cask?

Many people ask why single cask whisky is the focus at Sullivans Cove.

Unlike larger distilleries which focus on the consistency of their product by vatting together many casks, we celebrate the individuality of each single cask.

Being a single cask distillery means that every cask we release will be unique, each cask once decanted will only yield a few hundred bottles, which can never be replicated.

This single cask approach celebrates the magic of maturation, and the discovery of flavor. No two trees are the same, no two casks are the same, no two whiskies are the same.

As a whisky develops in the cask and the interactive maturation takes hold, the natural compounds of the spirit, the oak and the pre-fill mingle together with oxygen, transforming, and creating new flavor and aroma compounds.

This creates a flavor profile completely reserved to that one single cask.

Sullivans Cove are guided by nature and have the space and time to appreciate when a single cask reaches its pinnacle of balance and harmony.

With a great amount of patience and restraint, they sample each cask as many times as it takes until we feel it has reached its peak in flavour, texture and character.

Because of this, Sullivans Cove don’t operate to a schedule or have set due dates to release our whisky. It’s ready when it’s ready.

In celebrating the singular nature of each cask and finding joy in creating something that tastes like nothing else, they embrace the role as custodians of flavour and character, at the mercy of natural elements, and time.

Every single cask is a new opportunity for discovery. It’s a special kind of magic.

Sullivans Cove is Australia’s most awarded whisky

In 2019, Sullivans Cove French Oak Single Cask was awarded “World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt” at the World Whiskies Awards. This followed winning the same award for our American Oak Single Cask in 2018, making Sullivans Cove the only distillery in the world to ever win the award twice. In 2014, Sullivans Cove French Oak was also named “World’s Best Single Malt” at the World Whiskies Awards and is still the only Australian whisky ever to win World’s Best.


Sullivans Cove's former Head Distiller, Patrick Maguire, was inducted into the global Icons of Whisky Hall of Fame in 2018. Only the third Australian to ever receive this honor, it places Patrick in a small group of the world’s most influential whisky personalities.


We are honored to share some newly arrived selections of Sullivans Cove whisky with our connoisseurs!

1.Sullivans Cove French Oak ex-Tawny Single Cask Single Malt Whisky TD0323

Sullivans Cove French Oak Single Tawny Cask Tasmanian single malt whisky has become a legend in its own right, one of the most sought-after whiskies in the world, and the bottle that put the Australian whisky industry on the map after winning World’s Best Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards in 2014.

Aged for Fourteen years and Two months in a 300 litre, French Oak ex-Tawny cask, TD0323 is a classic example of the Sullivans Cove French oak ex-Tawny style. Bottled unflocked and unfiltered at 48.1% abv this cask produced a mere 421 bottles.

"A delightful single cask that showcases both the richness of French oak and the briny, citrussy and juicy essence of Sullivans Cove spirit. A harmonious interplay of toasty spices, dark chocolate, citrus, and herbal nuances, with a soft, silky texture, remarkable depth, and a tight-rope walker level of balance." - Heather Tillott, Head Distiller


2.Sullivans Cove American Oak ex-Bourbon Single Cask Single Malt Whisky TD0387

Sullivans Cove American Oak ex Bourbon Single Cask is our most awarded expression and is overall the most award-winning Australian whisky ever. Aged in 200L American oak casks previously used to mature bourbon in the USA, this whisky represents the defining style of Sullivans Cove, with a strong malt backbone and flavours of vanilla, caramel, stone fruit, white flowers and powerful oak. As a single cask bottling, every release is different, expressing the unique characteristics of each barrel.

Cask number TD0387 was distilled in November of 2012 and decanted in June of 2023, maturing at 10 years, and 6 months, in a single 200-litre, first-fill American oak ex-Bourbon cask. Yielding 286 bottles in total, this whisky is bottled at a strength of 47.5% abv.

Delicate, yet incredibly far-reaching and powerful, but in a considered and elegant way. After leaving the room and coming back, the entire space was filled with notes of fresh pear and honeyed melon. Sullivans Cove spirit on full display in all its fruity, high-ester glory, with light and well-placed touches of oak adding structure and intrigue.


3.Sullivans Cove American Oak Second Fill Single Cask Single Malt Whisky TD0045

Second-Fill casks are a truly special part of Sullivans Cove distillery. We take a handpicked selection of our best barrels that have previously matured Sullivans Cove single malt, and we fill them again. What follows is a slow and gentle collaboration of spirit and oak.

This longer maturation results in a softer, less oak-forward whisky with a complexity and uniqueness that cannot be replicated. Our best kept secret until now, Second-Fill casks reveal Sullivans Cove's spirit in its purest form.

American Oak Second Fill Single Cask TD0094 was distilled in May of 2006 and decanted in November of 2021, maturing at fifteen years and six months in a single, 300L American oak cask previously filled with an older batch of Sullivans Cove Single Malt Whisky. Bottled at 47.5%, this cask produced 405 bottles.

"A superb display of all the sweet, vanillic, oaky-coconut spice American oak has to offer, ushered by oily, citrusy, fruity Sullivans Cove spirit. Guided to full maturation by the ever-watchful eye of the Sullivans Cove team, and bottled at the perfect moment in time." - Miranda Lidgerwood, Sensory and Marketing


4.Sullivans Cove Double Cask Barrel Single Malt Australian Whisky DC115

Double Cask batch number DC115 is a marriage of portions from ten different casks, ranging in age from 6 to 17 years. As well as whisky from several American oak ex-Bourbon casks, this batch also contains whisky from both American and French oak casks, which have been previously used for either Tawny, white wine, or red wine.

Each batch of Sullivans Cove Double Cask whisky is bottled at a variable ABV. By tailoring the ABV for each batch we can choose an ABV that brings out the best in the whisky. For DC115, that was 47.7%.


5.Sullivans Cove French Oak ex-Tawny Single Cask Single Malt Whisky TD0405 

Aged in 300L French oak casks previously used to mature Australian tawny port-style fortified wine, this whisky has rich flavours of Christmas spice, chocolate, dried fruit and complex oak. As a single cask bottling, every tiny batch is different, expressing the unique characteristics of each barrel.

Aged for 9 years, 8 months, in a 300 litre, French oak ex-Tawny cask, TD0405 is a classic example of the Sullivans Cove French Oak ex-Tawny style. Bottled unflocked and unfiltered at 47.5% abv this cask produced a mere 477 bottles.

"A full-bodied, multi-dimensional and delicious single cask. Impressively layered and inspires thoughts of “how did all that flavour just come out of my small glass?” Caramelised meets creamy, sweet meets spiced, and dark meets bright. TD0405 breaks the confines of the tasting wheel and proudly says “I bet you didn’t expect that.” You're welcome!" -Miranda Lidgerwood, Sensory and Marketing

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