The Top Shelf Show 2015, Melbourne

Malt Mileage attended the Top Shelf Show in Melbourne on 8 August 2015. The Top Shelf Show is an alcoholic drinks show which showcases alcoholic drinks from various producers, such as distilleries and bars.

There were various spirits available for tasting including Scotch single malt (Glen Grant, Laphroaig, Glenrothes), Australian single malt (Sullivans Cove), bourbon (Russell’s Reserve), Australian white rye (Archie Rose, Belgrove), rum (Appleton Estate, Beenleigh) brandy (Camus, St Agnes) and the list continues. There were also some premium spirits available for tasting, such as the St Agnes XO Grand Reserve 40 year old which retails for about AUD$750! 

The list of whiskies on offer was by no means as large as in other shows, such as Whisky Live or The Whisky Show, but the experience at Top Shelf was far more enjoyable than these other shows – at Top Shelf the venue was not crowded, the “pop up” bars were carefully decorated and they provided a great ambiance, and, cocktails were available for tasting and it was fantastic to chat with the various “mixologists” at the event. To be honest, having drank my fill on the night the number of spirits available for tasting proved more than enough. The cocktails on offer were a refreshing change to the usual boring offerings in whisky shows (i.e: the usual high selling whiskies you’ve tried before served neat), and they were a hit with my partner. 

Apart from spirits there was cider, beer, liqueur and cheese available for tasting. The Laphroaig pop up bar also had oysters available for tasting, which were splashed with a bit of peaty malt: delicious!! 

Towards the end of the show it became apparent that The Top Shelf Show is in need of only one thing for next year: spittoons!! It would have been fantastic to be able to taste more product by having the option to spit out the product into spittoons. That said, as the show wore on numerous smiling faces stumbled their way down the aisles with their eyes lit up as they wavered around and happily chatted the day away; myself included. The crowd was very well behaved despite the free flowing alcohol.

If there is one drinks show that the Melbourne based spirits aficionado needs to attend, it is the Top Shelf Show – the work each exhibitor put into decorating the “pop up” bars and the mixed drinks/cocktails available for tasting are reason enough to attend, in addition to the abundance of alcohol on tasting.  

Standout single malt: Laphroaig 15 year old – clearly a mature tasting single malt, the peat was softened from the aging process and the oak influence provided a long lasting and delicious finish.

Standout rum: Appleton Estate 12 year old – a vibrant and spicy Jamaican rum, with drying qualities on the palate and superb balance of flavours.

Standout brandy: Camus Borderies – a floral Cognac with flavours exploding on the palate; this batch was noticeably better than previous batches I have tasted.

Standout bourbon: Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – big, bold, and balanced with a punchy 55% alcohol by volume.

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