Water of Life – W + A
The world of whisky is a varied one with a myriad of offerings that cater to tastes and preferences of all kinds. Once you determine your favourite drops and delve a bit into the rabbit holes flooded by the water of life, finding out the constituents of your favourites and why you find them appealing, gates to new microcosms open and things get both even more interesting but can also get overwhelming.
Given the lucrative nature of the spirits industry, there is no shortage of outlets that at least on the surface cater to your every whim, which is nice, however, the ones that are fuelled by a sincere dedication and burning passion to not only offer what you already know but are intrinsically motivated to take you on a journey of discovery are few and rare between.
Whisky and Alement is one of those.
From a distance, it might look like an ordinary whisky bar, however, the connoisseur will find out fairly quickly that there is much more to it than meets the eye. Having become a fixture not merely on the firmament of the Melbourne bar scene, but one of the prime locations nationally and a destination for international whisky aficionados alike, the core of W + A’s operations is based on a menu of over one thousands whiskies that not only cover all nuances of mainstream offerings but specifically put a focus on independent bottlings, which much to my delight are paired with a curated list of craft beers and cocktails.
What might sound like an elitist affair, could not be further from the truth as the attention to detail and care for their customers will see you in good hands, no matter if you are a novice looking for a bit of guidance or a luminary looking to indulge in a dram of a drop that has long disappeared from the shelves of other bars.
Affected by the malaise of COVID-19, the second wave of which is currently still ravaging Victoria and forced the state into a stage four lockdown, W + A’s efforts to transition operations to their online shop and virtual tastings has proved to be very successful to keep things going and enabled remote whisky aficionados to gain access to drops that would normally only be available via a visit to the physical bar.
Needless to see that especially the more refined distilleries form a conga line to not only team up with W + A for tastings but also for launches of their new and rare expressions.
An example par excellence is the virtual Yoichi Launch extravaganza, designed to celebrate the Australia launch of the new limited-edition release from the Nikka Distillery, i.e. the Nikka Yoichi Apple Brandy Wood Finish.
The nature of the virtual tasting allows for brand ambassadors and distillers to guide the tastings, which in this case is a celebration of the fruits of a love affair between the founders Masataka Taketsuru and Jessie Roberta Cowen, whose nuptial alliance left an imprint on the whisky industry at large, specifically Cowen’s preference for apples to which the Nikka Yoichi Apple Brandy Wood Finish is a tribute. Following its initial maturation, this limited-edition single malt undergoes a further six-month long finish in casks that formerly held apple brandy for over twenty-five years.
Apart from virtual tastings like the aforementioned, W + A has been working directly with distilleries and independent bottlers to release its own exclusive expressions, which are not available in 30ml juice bags for mail-order, priced so it does not break the bank and allows you to sample fantastic drops at home.
I cannot wait for travel restrictions to be eased to visit and experience W + A myself in the third dimension.