Never Never Distilling Co named Australia’s champion distillery

December 1, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

McLaren Vale’s Never Never Distilling Co has been named Champion Australian Distiller at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards for the second year in a row. It also took away trophies for Champion Navy Gin for its Juniper Freak Gin and Champion London Dry Gin for their Triple Juniper Export Strength Gin.

Founder and distiller Sean Baxter (pictured below with co-founders Tim Boast & George Georgiadis) made a brief speech as he collected his trophy: “We’re about big flavour and doing it well.”

The distillery was also named Distiller of the Year by The Spirits Business earlier this year and in 2019.

Eighteen trophies were awarded on the evening with half of them awarded to Victorian distilleries. Organisers say that the strong representation by Victorian trophy winners reflects the extraordinary growth of distilling in the state, despite the challenges of COVID over the past 18 months. 

“The Australian Distilled Spirits Awards is regarded as Australia’s first and largest national award program that proudly recognises the long tradition of distilling in Australia, and the emergence of the new generation of spirits, liqueurs, aromatics and this year, vermouths;” said Melbourne Royal CEO, Brad Jenkins. 

“Since being established by Melbourne Royal in 2015, the interest and growth of the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards has been extraordinary and this year there were a record 765 entries from 191 distilleries, which is a 20% increase on 2020.” 

Ninety gold, 241 silver and 269 bronze medals were awarded from the 765 entries in this year’s awards.

Eltham based Naught Distilling won the Champion New World / Contemporary Gin as well as the Champion Victorian Gin, both for their Naught Australian Dry Gin. Made by former professional basketball player and Melbourne local, Chris Cameron is known for his fastidious, relentless and attentive approach to creating meticulously made gins. 

Boatrocker Brewing and Distilling in Braeside has taken out the Champion Alternative Spirit award for its Boatrocker Coolship Rye which is Boatrocker’s first foray into Rye Spirits, and aged in high char American Oak for ten months. 

Dromana’s JimmyRum has won the Champion Victorian Distillery award. Created by former marine engineer James McPherson who now prides himself on establishing Victoria’s first dedicated craft rum distillery, JimmyRum’s primary goal is to produce amazing rums that warm the soul. JimmyRum also took out the new trophy, Champion Cane Spirit, for its JimmyRum Silver.

Ivanhoe’s Imbue Distillery has picked up the Champion Other Gin for its Suburban Barrel Aged Gin created by four Melbourne experts with a combined 60 years of experience.

Somerville’s Chief’s Son has won Champion Australian Small Batch Spirit for its Cask Expression Release 4 Imperial Stout, an incredible marriage between a brewery and a distillery, using the old French oak barrel used to mature the stunning Mornington Peninsula Brewery’s ‘Russian Imperial Stout,’ then used to house their boldest Single Malt Whisky. 

Cap & Bells in North Melbourne took out Champion Aromatic for its Marionette Bitter Orange Curacao, as well as the Consistency of Excellence Medal, for their Marionette Dry Cassis, made from Tasmanian blackcurrants grown by father and son Rob and Richard Clark, who have dedicated 20 years to growing the best blackcurrants. This flavourful and distinct spirit has picked up Australian Distilled Spirits Awards gold medals for the last three years. 

New South Wales based distilleries took out four of the trophies, including renowned Archie Rose Distilling Co in Rosebery for its Rye Malt Whisky, a truly unique whisky made from selectively sourced rare malted rye and the finest malted barley from progressive malt houses, which is paired with virgin American oak casks air-dried for 36 months and left to mature in the maritime air of coastal Sydney.

Marrickville’s Mobius Distilling Co has received two awards, one for Champion Vodka for its 38 Special Vodka which also recently won a Silver Medal at the 2021 Tasting Australia Spirit Awards. Their Moreau Apple Pie Liqueur took out the Champion Liqueur award, made with fresh Australian apple juice and select spices to taste like apple pie in a glass. Its name originates from the fantastical world of ‘Dr Moreau’, the mad scientist character in the H G Wells novel renowned for his unorthodox techniques, reflecting the experimental nature of the spirit. 

Mobius Co-Founder, Philip Crossley says the versatile drop is guaranteed to bring the festive cheer: “The Moreau Apple Pie Liqueur is so versatile and works well as a base for a cocktail, paired with a variety of other spirits and mixers.  Our goal was to create a delicious drink that people can have some fun with. It’s perfect for festive entertaining and can be served neat, over ice, ice-cream or gently warmed for colder climbs.”

Regal Rogue has won the new trophy for Champion Vermouth, for its Regal Rogue Lively White, which is bursting with citrus and floral notes, marrying an Orange, NSW, organic un-wooded Chardonnay with native, lemon myrtle, desert limes, finger limes and native thyme with elderflower, lemongrass, grapefruit and chamomile.

South Australia’s Ginny Pig Distillery in Flagstaff Hill was awarded the trophy for the Champion Australian Micro Batch Spirit for their Botanic Gin. Ginny Pig is the brainchild of husband and wife team Craig and Bec who spent a collective 50 years working in nursing but dreaming of something a little more creative.  

St Agnes Distillery in Renmark has won Champion Brandy for St Agnes XO Imperial 20-year-old, a spirit that is more complex and pure than standard XO.  The distillery took out the same award last year, and in 2018, 2017 and 2016.

Queensland’s Bundaberg received the Raymond B ‘Spike’ Dessert III Trophy for Champion Rum for its Master Distillers’ Collection – Small Batch Reserve. 

Brad Jenkins adds: “The Australian Distilled Spirits Awards uniquely brings together accomplished experts in distilling, spirits retailing and writing to judge Australia’s best distilled spirits, liqueurs, and aromatics to provide producers with an essential benchmarking opportunity.”

2021 ADSA Champion Trophies

  • Champion Whisky – Archie Rose Distilling Co – Rye Malt Whisky
  • Champion London Dry Gin – Never Never Distilling Co. – Triple Juniper Export Strength Gin
  • Champion New World / Contemporary Gin – Naught Distilling – Naught Australian Dry Gin
  • Champion Navy Gin – Never Never Distilling Co. – Juniper Freak Gin 
  • Champion Other Gin (Not LD, NW or Navy) – Imbue Distillery – Suburban Barrel Aged Gin
  • Champion Vodka – Mobius Distilling Company – 38 Special
  • Champion Brandy – St Agnes Distillery – St Agnes Imperial 20 Year Old
  • Raymond ‘Spike’ Dessert III Trophy for Champion Rum – Bundaberg Distilling Company – Master Distillers’ Collection – Small Batch Reserve
  • Champion Cane Spirit – JimmyRum – JimmyRum Silver
  • Champion Liqueur – Mobius Distilling Company – Moreau Apple Pie
  • Champion Alternative Spirit – Boatrocker Brewers & Distillers – Boatrocker Coolship Rye
  • Champion Aromatic – Cap & Bells – Marionette Bitter Orange Curacao
  • Champion Vermouth – Regal Rogue – Regal Rogue Lively White
  • Champion Small Batch Spirit – Chief’s Son Distillery
  • Champion Australian Small Batch Spirit
  • Champion Micro Batch – Ginny Pig Distillery – Botanic
  • Champion Victorian Gin – Naught Distilling – Naught Australian Dry Gin
  • Champion Victorian Distillery – JimmyRum
  • Champion Australian Distiller – Never Never Distilling Co. 

Main image: Shay Chamberlain, Brand Ambassador thanks to Melbourne Royal

Never Never images thanks to Meaghan Coles.

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