A dram from down under - fancy some Tasmanian whisky?

Scotland is facing increasing competition for its stranglehold on the top quality whisky markets.

Tasmania's burgeoning fine whisky production

In January, a Taiwanese whisky beat some credible Scotch contenders in a blind taste test, the latest issue of Jim Murray's The Whisky Bible rates an American version as the best in the world and, most shocking of all, an English distillery has made something worth drinking.

Now, a different source again has stepped up to the bar: Australia, or more specifically Tasmania.

The island has six distilleries and counting, with the Burnie-based Hellyers Road boutique distillery's Peated Single Malt Whisky recently winning at the Malt Whisky Society of Australia's Awards for Excellence in Adelaide.

The company's Pure 666 cold grain vodka was named the best in the world at the International Spirit Show in San Francisco earlier in 2010. Now its whisky is having real success, and has begun exporting to France.

But it's not just one distillery. Hobart's Lark Distillery sold a bottle of one of its 1998 whisky for AUS$1,800 (US$1,600) in spring this year - the highest price paid for Australian whisky to date, and one which compares well to many Bowmore or Springbank classics.

With a proud history with roots that reach all the way to Scotland, it looks like Australian whisky  could be the next big thing for collectors and investors.


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