DiscoverDrinks Adventures - Wine, beer, whisky, gin & more with James Atkinson
Drinks Adventures - Wine, beer, whisky, gin & more with James Atkinson

Drinks Adventures - Wine, beer, whisky, gin & more with James Atkinson

Author: Wine, Beer & Whisky Network Australia

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Wine lover? Craft beer fan? Drink whisky, bourbon, cognac or rum? Or maybe it's gin or vodka or mezcal you're into? Based in Australia, but globally minded, Drinks Adventures covers all these drinks and more: Japanese sake, cider, tequila, champagne, cocktails... we could go on!
Listen in as award-winning drinks writer James Atkinson interviews the world's biggest names in craft brewing, winemaking, distilling and mixology, along with sommeliers, mixologists, sake samurais, masters of wine and certified cicerones.
122 Episodes
Spearhead is a new whisky from the renowned Highlands Single Malt distillery, Loch Lomond, that shakes up Scotch whisky in numerous respects.For starters, it’s a single grain whisky. But in this case, that doesn’t mean it’s been distilled from wheat or corn or rye, Spearhead is made from malted barley using a continuous, Coffey style still, also known as a column still.That’s what makes it a single grain Scotch whisky. And the process enabled Loch Lomond to create a lighter style of spirit that would then undergo a unique maturation process that includes finishing in infrared toasted virgin American oak barrels.Loch Lomond is currently the only distillery in Scotland to use infrared barrels to finish whisky.And there’s a raft of other innovative production tweaks that all combine to give Spearhead a sweeter taste profile, albeit with depth and complexity, that is designed to appeal to newer whisky drinkers or people who enjoy long drinks like highballs.This is a special episode of the Drinks Adventures podcast, produced with the support of Spearhead Whisky.You'll meet Loch Lomond master blender Michael Henry and head of innovation, Calum Leslie, who are going to tell you all about this exciting and unique project.And I started this interview by asking Calum why Loch Lomond had embarked on this project that resulted in the creation of an entirely new brand.Spearhead Whisky is out now at First Choice Liquor, Liquorland and Vintage Cellars stores across Australia, priced very competitively at $62 for a 700ml bottle.
Australian winemaker Penfolds Wines has made huge strides internationally in recent years.The company launched its debut California Collection earlier this year, and there’s a set of Bordeaux wines to come in 2022.And in 2019, Penfolds released three champagnes in collaboration with the Champagne House Thiénot; A Chardonnay Pinot Noir Cuvée, Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru and Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru, all from the 2012 vintage and priced at $280 each.In this special episode of the Drinks Adventures podcast, produced with the support of Penfolds, Chief Winemaker Peter Gago gives you the lowdown on the project and the new addition to the range.It’s a champagne that’s a little more within reach for many of us: A non-vintage Brut Rosé priced at $90.But I asked Peter first up about his personal affinity with champagne, a wine style that he’s clearly very passionate about.The Thiénot x Penfolds Champagne Brut Rosé is comprised of 30 per cent Chardonnay (Nogent, Sézanne and Côte des Blancs), 20 per cent Pinot Noir (Vallée de l’Ardre (8%), Epernay and Côte des Bar), and 50 per cent Pinot Meunier (Épernay, Vallée de la Marne and Saint-Thierry).Visit for stockist information.
In this edition of the news:Industry toasts Chuck Hahn's 50 years of brewing;Margaret River winery Voyager Estate very nearly fully organic;Japan's Mars Whisky releases Voyager collaboration; andTop Shelf International launches the Australian Agave NFT.
Founded in 2017 by Sean Baxter, George Georgiadis and Tim Boast, Never Never is undoubtedly one of the hottest distilleries in Australia at the moment.The company was recently named Champion Australian Distiller for the second year running at the 2021 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards, as well as being a finalist alongside Four Pillars for the IWSC’s International Gin Producer Trophy.And there’s been yet more accolades that you’ll hear about in today’s episode, as we meet co-founder Sean Baxter.Unlike other Australian gin distillers that have defined themselves based on our native botanicals, Never Never has made its name on excelling at gins that are very classically styled.Today, Sean shares with you the benefits and challenges of this approach.We also discuss the thorny issue of base spirit, and some of Never Never’s innovative products like Ginache – made using Grenache grapes from its home of McLaren Vale in South Australia – and its new Oyster Shell Gin.And we revisit the April Fools' Day prank that got Sean into some hot water with his fellow distillers earlier this year, stoking industry fears about a potential juniper shortage.That’s all coming up after I ask Sean about the significance of the Champion Distiller gong that Never Never took home for a second time on Wednesday December 1, 2021.
Just one story again in this week’s edition of the news.Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits has completed a capital raising that values the business at $500 million AUD.This valuation has been achieved in less than two and a half years of trading for the Australian company founded in Sydney in 2019.It’s now on track to become the fastest independent beverage brand to reach Unicorn status, meaning a valuation in excess of $1 billion US.There’s been no shortage of naysayers about the concept of non-alcoholic spirits and I’ll admit to being a little sceptical when Lyre’s founder Mark Livings first told me what he had planned.He says this latest funding milestone is clear evidence that non-alcoholic spirits are here to stay.
Beer and brewing writer Tara Nurin is the official historian of the Pink Boots Society, an organisation created in 2008 to assist, inspire and encourage women working in the beer industry.Tara’s new book – A Woman's Place Is in the Brewhouse – celebrates the contributions and influence of female brewers and explores the forces that have erased them from the brewing world.Its publication is very timely with the beer industry having had its #metoo moment in recent months, led by Brienne Allan, a brewer based in Massachusetts who encouraged other women to share the stories of sexism and abuse they’ve suffered in the craft beer and brewing industry.This is certainly not an American problem. We’ve recently seen a survey conducted by a group of Australian women calling themselves the Beer Agents for Change, which found that 38% of people who work in the beer industry have been abused or harassed, and 90% of the people who reported that type of conduct were female.So it’s in that context today that we hear from Tara about her new book.And coming up after that, you’ll meet Briony Leibich, an Australian specialising in sensory analysis and expert tasting for beer, wine and food.Briony has worked as a sensory specialist for some time now, most recently at the West End Brewery in Adelaide.Since West End shut down earlier this year, Briony has focused on her own sensory consultancy called Flavour Logic.I asked Briony how she found her way into this profession.
A new and unknown Tasmanian wine brand has come out on top at the Australian Pinot Noir Challenge.The 2020 Ossa Pinot Noir scored 96 points out of 100, winning the Best of Region Trophy for Tasmania and the top wine of the show, judged against Victorian stalwarts like the Yarra Valley’s Giant Steps and Paringa Estate in Mornington Peninsula.The wine was made by Liam McElhinney, chief winemaker at Tasmanian Vintners, for Rod and Cecile Roberts.They created the Ossa Wines label this year having purchased the Belbrook Vineyard in Cranbrook on Tasmania’s east coast in 2017.I asked Chief Judge of the Australian Pinot Noir Challenge, David Bicknell, whether the company or vineyard were on his radar.
Whisky writer Dr Nicholas Morgan is a 30-year veteran of spirits giant Diageo, with a background in history and academia.He joined Diageo's predecessor, United Distillers, in 1990, creating what is now considered the world’s most comprehensive spirits archive, before making a somewhat unlikely transition to leader of Diageo’s global malt whisky marketing team.Nicholas retired from Diageo in December 2020 following the publication of his acclaimed book, A Long Stride, the Story of the World’s No 1 Scotch Whisky, written as part of the bicentennial celebrations of John Walker & Sons.His latest book is Everything You Need to Know About Whisky (But are too afraid to ask).It’s a great read, and we discuss both it and the Johnnie Walker book later on in this interview with Nicholas, who is a Master of the Quaich – that’s one of the highest honours in Scotch whisky – and a member of the Whisky Magazine Hall Of Fame.But I started by asking Nick about the challenges he faced marketing single malt whisky at Diageo in the 1990s.
Wine, whisky & brewery news from Drinks Adventures:Wynns Coonawarra farewells viticulturist Allen Jenkins;Starward Whisky and Yalumba Wines collaborate on a new single malt whisky; andModus Operandi Brewing launches green energy brewery in Newcastle.
It’s been a massive year for Lark Distilling Company, which recently announced the $40 million acquisition of fellow Tasmanian distillery Shene Estate.Managing director Geoff Bainbridge joins us this episode, about 18 months after he last spoke with Drinks Adventures for a two-part story on the podcast website.Remember you can visit and sign up to the newsletter so you don’t miss stories like that one.At the time, Geoff and I discussed the rebadging and relaunch of Lark Distilling, formerly known as Australian Whisky Holdings, and the process the company went through to exit the Nant barrel investment scheme, and sell Overeem Whisky back to the Overeem family.Lark’s share price has been on an absolute flyer ever since, with the company reporting strong sales results having refocused itself on a single whisky brand, and continued to build its whisky inventory.There’s been some criticism however about an alleged lack of transparency surrounding the provenance of whisky released under the Lark name.I addressed those issues with Geoff in this follow-up interview for the podcast.We also discuss some of the recent developments of late in Australian whisky generally, like the discussions around a potential Tasmanian Whisky appellation, and the controversial Archie Rose patent.That’s coming up after Geoff gives you an update on some of the other changes at Lark Distilling in recent times.
The Principle of Hospitality podcast is produced by Melburnian hospitality veterans, Shaun de Vries and Sasha Fernando. In this episode exchange, we hear Shaun interview champion bartender Evan Stroeve of Sydney bar Re.
Glaetzer-Dixon Family Wines made history in 2011 when it became the first Tasmanian winery to win the Jimmy Watson – Australia’s most prestigious wine prize – at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards.Winemaker Nick Glaetzer has been celebrating the milestone with a highly limited museum release of his winning wine, the 2010 Mon Pere Shiraz, and he joins us today on the Drinks Adventures podcast.He’ll update you on other recent happenings at Glaetzer-Dixon, which planted a new 12-hectare vineyard in the Coal River Valley in 2018, and is currently preparing to release new vintages of La Judith Pinot Noir, named for Nick’s mother who sadly passed away in 2014.First up though, I asked Nick about the significance of that Jimmy Watson award, both for him and the Tasmanian wine industry generally.
I’ll have another regular episode of the Drinks Adventures podcast to share with you very soon.Right now though I’m stoked to share an interview from another one of my favourite drinks podcasts, The Modern Bar Cart out of the US.The host is a gentleman by the name of Eric Kozlik, who describes his show as a cocktail podcast for home bartenders and industry pros alike.But in spite of that, The Modern Bar Cart really does cover the full gamut of drinks and Eric really has had some amazing guests.This year they’ve included Sam Calagione, founder of one of America’s top craft breweries, Dogfish Head; global rum ambassador, Ian Burrell; and the renowned spirit and cocktail writers David Wondrich and Noah Rothbaum.And today on the Drinks Adventures podcast, I’m sharing Eric’s interview with another Eric, the spirits judge and author Eric Zandona, whose new book, "The Atlas of Bourbon & American Whiskey” is out now.I learnt so much about the different regional styles of American whiskey from this interview – Eric’s depth of knowledge on the topic is unparalleled.So I’ll leave you to the Erics and after you enjoy this interview, go and subscribe to The Modern Bar Cart Podcast.
Cellaring wine and seeing for yourself how its flavours evolve is one of the most exciting aspects of wine appreciation.But it can be intimidating, and there’s some fundamentals you need to know to ensure you get the best results.In this episode of the show, St Hugo chief winemaker Peter Munro gives you some of those pointers, like how to choose age-worthy wines, store them correctly, and identify drinking windows for optimal consumption.With more than 20 years of winemaking experience, Peter’s career has spanned some of the world’s most prominent wine regions. Coonawarra and the Barossa obviously, but also Tasmania, Hawke’s Bay in NZ, and the Napa Valley in California.St Hugo Cabernet is a mainstay of many Australian cellars. A longstanding fixture in the Langton's Classification of Australian Fine Wine, it is built to age for a minimum of ten to 15 years, and the better vintages will last considerably longer.And now, perfectly timed for Christmas gifting and festivities – you can get your hands on some of the most outstanding back vintages of St Hugo Cabernet, which have been hand selected after rigorous tasting and review by Peter.Currently available in St Hugo’s Fine and Rare Collection are St Hugo Cabernet 1998, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2012.There’s also some magnums, double magnums and six litre imperials available of some of these wines.You can purchase them direct from St Hugo’s online cellar door at is a special episode of the Drinks Adventures podcast, produced with the support of St Hugo.
Brewing legend Chuck Hahn is among only a handful of brewers to have become a household name among beer-loving Australians.But in contrast to other names like Cooper or Foster or Toohey – which have been associated with brewing since the 19th century – the Hahn phenomenon is relatively recent. It’s still playing out today.That said, few of us fully understand how an American with a PHD in chemical engineering came to be one of the most influential figures in the Australian beer industry.So when I learned that Chuck was celebrating 50 years of brewing in 2021, I was inspired to take a closer look at some of the events that have defined his remarkable career, and become part of brewing folklore in Australia.I visited Chuck at the Malt Shovel Brewery in Sydney. And I spoke to many of the people he’s worked with and influenced over the years.And slowly came together this documentary that I’m delighted to share with you on the Drinks Adventures podcast.
Little Creatures head brewer Russ Gosling and ambassador Paul Daley discuss new additions to the brewer's range in the leadup to summer.
Beer writer Jeff Alworth joins us in this opening episode of Season 11, hot on the promotional trail for his latest book.First published in 2015, The Beer Bible is billed as the most comprehensive guide to the world of beer, with everything you need to know about what to drink, where, when and why.The Beer Bible first edition was named best drinks book by the International Association of Culinary Professionals in 2016.The second edition was published in September 2021, so I was keen to ask Jeff what were the biggest changes in brewing in the intervening years.Hailing from one of my favourite cities; Portland, Oregon, Jeff is also founder of the Beervana blog and podcast, where he and Oregon State University economics professor Patrick Emerson discuss beer and the economics of beer.Now I figure some of you may be unfamiliar with Jeff’s previous work. So I started by asking him, what is The Beer Bible?
In this final edition of the news for Season Ten:Mezcal boom raises ethical issues;A landmark moment for Australian whisky; andNon-alcoholic beer brand Sobah launches crowdfunding campaign.Theme music 'Devotion' by Silverlining. Purchase here.Follow Drinks Adventures at @drinksadventures_au and James Atkinson at @byjamesatkinson on Instagram.
Whisky in Australia has been destined for a shake-up as larger players enter the market with products designed to compete on price with some of the big international whisky brands.But of course, there will always be a place for smaller artisan distillers like Highwayman Whisky, the Byron Bay company that released its first spirit in 2020.Highwayman Whisky was founded by Dan Woolley, a longtime whisky industry professional. Most recently he was ambassador for the Beam Suntory portfolio of brands, which gave him a backstage pass to globally renowned distilleries throughout Scotland, Kentucky and Japan.Dan started to lay down his own spirit in his chosen casks back home in Australia starting in 2016, and the first Highwayman bottlings released last year sold out in minutes.Whisky is a hugely capital intensive spirit to make, so I asked Dan how he went about establishing his own brand despite having very limited resources at his disposal.
Brewing company Fermentum Group – parent company of craft beer heavyweights Stone & Wood – has announced its shock sale to Japanese-owned brewer Lion Australia.You are likely as shocked by this as I was. You know how committed Stone & Wood seemed to their independence back when we met the founders in this 2019 documentary.Soon after the news broke I published an opinion piece that expressed pretty clearly how I felt about their backflip, and the unfortunate knock-on effect for the independence movement:Stone & Wood’s multinational backflip costly for indie beerOn Friday I got hold of co-founder Ross Jurisich to try and make sense of the decision.Theme music 'Devotion' by Silverlining. Purchase here.Follow me on Instagram @drinksadventures_au and @byjamesatkinson.Sign up free of charge for my newsletter here.
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