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Issue 122 - In a Bar Down Under

Whisky Magazine Issue 122
September 2014


This article is 3 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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In a Bar Down Under

We locate the very best of Oz's bars

David Attenborough leans into the camera and in hushed tones confides “The more adventurous whisky drinker surfaces in the evening. They're nocturnal habits have them venturing into the city. Like at this Sydney habitué we are now watching. At the end of this alley, hidden in a disguised basement something is afoot. Drinkers are disappearing into what might only be called a whisky nest. If this were Melbourne or another Australian city these gathering places would be more public, instead of secretive places of assemblage. You may well ask, what is causing this behaviour we are now witnessing?”

The catalyst behind the explosion in specialist whisky bars has been State licensing laws permitting the emergence of small bars. First it happened in Melbourne, then Sydney and now it has spread across the country. Over the past five years, dozens of small bars specialising in whisky have opened their doors. Some are malt focused, others bourbon, even Japanese and Irish whiskey. What would fascinate Attenborough is not the instinctive pull of drinkers to an evening waterhole, but the sub-cultural nuances between cities and bar habitats. Most of these Sydney bars are in concealed locations, imitating the American speakeasy trend. Once inside these hole-in-the-wall bars they're boisterous places pumping with music, stocked with walls of whisky and inventive cocktails. Melbourne whisky bars tend to be more composed and relaxed, even elegant in comparison to Sydney. Brisbane, Perth...

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