This interview was originally conducted for, and appears on, the Loving Earth blog.
We sat down with our friend Fred from Sullivans Cove for a bit of a yarn. He likes talking and thinking about whisky almost as much as he likes drinking it!
1. What was it like winning that first award? Where were you when you heard?
I wasn’t working with Sullivans Cove when we won our first major award back in 2014, but I remember how huge it was for the Australian industry as a whole. All of a sudden, everyone wanted to drink local whisky.
Getting our second major global award was incredible. It’s one thing for a tiny craft distillery like ours to do it once, but twice is mental. It just goes to show it wasn’t a fluke. We were all really happy this time our personal favourite style was the winner, too. When I heard I was just standing in my apartment talking to our Managing Director on the phone. It was a good thing I was at home because I could scream and shout a bit without freaking anyone out.
2. How did it change life at Sullivans Cove HQ?
It hasn’t changed that much to be fair, but think it’s really a vindication of everything we do and the approach we take to making whisky. If anything, it’s galvanised our resolve to keep doing things the slow, hand-made way.
3. What’s the magic whisky formula?
Make what you want to drink. If you like it, chances are someone else will, too. And if not, you’ve got lots of whisky to drink.
Bourbon and whisky are kind of the same, right? Sort of, yeah. Bourbon is a type of whisk(e)y. Whisk(e)y is a really broad category that has lots of different styles, regulations and processes depending on where you are, so you can have Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, Japanese whisky, Bourbon whiskey, Australian whisky…
4. How do I know if I’m drinking a good whisky or a rubbish one?
How much you enjoy it, plain and simple. One person’s rubbish is another one’s gold. Lucky for us there’s heaps to try. Personally, I look for texture, complexity and integration of flavours. I love floral, waxy, creamy whiskies.
5. Which Aussie craftspeople are lighting up for you at the moment?
So many! Pennyweight winery, Peter Bignell at Belgrove Distillery, Never Never Distillery, Willie Smith’s Cider, Two Metre Tall Brewery, Franklin Restaurant, Dan Gregory at Ettie’s Piano Bar, everyone is doing such amazing work and really pushing flavour into unexplored realms.
6. Best weird cocktail flavour combination?
Smoked honey & fig leaf
7. What was your mum’s favourite advice?
Be nice. Question everything.
8. You love a good adventure. What 3 things are always in your adventure travel bag?
My camera, my all-purpose scarf/towel/blanket/sarong, and plenty of hardy cloth bandaids for blisters.
9. You’re a mix of Aussie and American. What’s your most Aussie trait and when does the American shine through?
My favourite breakfast is two pieces of toast; one with Vegemite, one with peanut butter.
10. What’s the best way to have whisky and chocolate?
With good company, even if that’s just yourself.