Distilleries to watch in 2024
These seven distilleries are going to make huge whisky waves in 2024, so you better be ready to lap up all the incredible whisky they’ll be making.
On the local scene, there are two relatively new kids on the block that’ll be definite must-haves, and we reckon one of the country’s oldest distilleries — the oldest continuously operating distillery — in fact — will be having a moment.
If you take a look at the Scottish offerings you’ll notice one thing they all have in common. Can you guess? We’ll give you a minute to scroll down to see if you can spot it…
*Thinking music ensues*
Got it? Yep, they’re all Highland whiskies.
Highland whiskies need to be high on your must-drink list in 2024. The Highland whisky region covers the most geographical ground of all the Scottish regions. It also takes in the islands. So, there’s something for everyone and Highland whisky has a huge diversity of characteristics and flavours.
This Scottish distillery is on a winning streak. Last year Whisky Advocate crowned Glenglassaugh’s Sandend Single Malt Scotch as its 2023 Whisky of the Year in a nearly unanimous vote from Whisky Advocate’s panel. The whisky was created by Master Blender Dr Rachel Barrie, who also created The Whisky Club’s 2023 Whisky of the Year, The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 11.
The coastal Highland distillery was established in 1875 and for most of its life it produced malt whisky that was blended into larger commercial brands. Glenglassaugh’s stills have sat quiet for a good part of its nearly 150-year history. In 1907, the distillery was closed down for 53 years. It reopened and fired up its stills again before lying dormant again in 1986.
In 2013 Glenglassaugh was acquired by The Benriach Distillery Company, under the control of Billy Walker, a living legend who’s spent the past decade restoring both Benriach and Glendronach back to the cult whiskies that they are today, then in 2016 American giant Brown Forman bought The Benriach Distillery Company. If this sounds like a slightly familiar tale, that’s because Port Ellen and Brora have a similar distillery history, before they were both resurrected and launched into fame for their record-breaking highs at whisky auction houses. In October 2023, Glenglassaugh set a distillery record when its Coalescence of the Coast 55 Year Old went under the hammer for a whopping £37,500* (A$72,260.00)
Despite its relatively short history, Ardnamurchan Distillery has already made a name for itself in the world of Scotch. Its commitment to traditional methods and transparency, and downright delicious drams have earned it a loyal following among whisky lovers, and helped Ardnamurchan win awards like Best New Distillery at the Online Scotch Whisky Awards, as well as Sustainable Distillery of the Year and Brand Innovator of the Year at the Icons of Whisky Scotland.
And the distillery’s got a cult following to boot. Whisky nerds the world over are hotly pursuing everything coming out of this ground-breaking Highland Distillery. In fact, Ardnamurchan has such a following they were selling out their work-in-progress spirit before it could even legally be called whisky, and their first two releases sold out worldwide in minutes. Ardnamurchan created it’s first-ever first-fill Oloroso hogshead single cask in Australia for our Members in April 2023 and it got gobbled up in no time. Our whisky crystal ball tells us to keep an eye on these Highland heroes.
The Lakes Distillery
Lakes District, England
This distillery is no stranger to Club Members. In fact, they’re probably sipping on our exclusive Lakes Whiskymaker’s Editions: Voyage as we speak. The Lakes is an absolute whisky talent magnet, originally including ex-Macallan whiskymaker Dhavall Gandhi, an innovative biochemist and Alan Rutherford, former production director at Diageo, and now former lead whiskymaker for Macallan, Sarah Burgess.
The distillery auctioned off the first 99 bottles of its inaugural single malt whisky, The Lakes Genesis, and set a world record while they were at it.
The very first bottle broke the world record for the most expensive whisky from a new distillery, and the most expensive bottle of English whisky sold at auction, going under the hammer for £7,900, or $15,290.
In 2022, The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No. 4 won Best Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards, catapulting the distillery’s reputation onto the world stage. Members already know good stuff is coming out of this distillery, and we reckon there’s even more on the way.
Hellyers Road Distillery
Definitely no new kids on the block, North West Tasmania’s Hellyers Road is one of the oldest continually operating whisky distillery in the country. The distillery was established in 1999 by a group of whisky-mad dairy farming families and today remains in the hands of these founding families. The distillery has been gathering accolades on the in international awards scene, and 2021, it won Best Australian Single Malt Whisky at the 2021 World Whisky Awards for their Henry’s Legacy Freestone Cove. The following year they won again, this time with the 15-Year-Old Slightly Peated American Oak Whisky.
In June last year, Hellyers Road had a brand refresh and released a new range of whiskies. We also dropped the Hellyers Road 21 Year Old Single Cask — then the oldest official single cask bottling to date. This beauty picked up a gold and was the category winner at 2024’s World Whiskies Awards and took the crown of the most awarded Aussie distillery
with four category wins and 13 medals. Keep an eye on these guys because there’s exciting things happening.
These guys are a Club favourite but for the most part a hidden gem here in Australia. We’ve released four whiskies with this Highland distillery. The last release, the Tomatin 2009 Verdejo Cask, was the world’s first ever Scotch whisky matured in Spanish Verdejo casks. Tomatin is hugely popular in Europe, and they’re beginning to dominate at international award shows.
In 2022, the distillery was awarded ‘Scotch Whisky Producer of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Spirits Producer of the Year’ at the International Wine & Spirit Competition. And in June 2023,
Tomatin’s 36-Year-Old single malt was named ‘Best in Show’ in the whisky category at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, officially making it one of the best whiskies in the world. The good times will continue to roll for this Highland distillery in 2024, so watch this space.
Waubs Harbour Distillery
Set on the rocks in Bicheno on the far east coast of Tasmania, Waubs Harbour is an old oyster hatchery turned world-class distillery. And they’re turning out some world-class spirits, too. This is truly Tassie maritime whisky and it’s believed to be the world’s closest distillery to the ocean. Head Distiller Rob Polmear is the former Head Distiller of Overeem Whisky and Head of Production for Lark Distillery. Waubs Harbour's official first release launched in April 2023 and bottle number #01 of their Founder's Reserve whisky auctioned for $4800. At the World Whiskies Awards 2024, Waubs Harbour Distillery won the Small Batch Single Malt category for its Waubs Original. The win comes just ten months after the distillery had whisky available.
Cape Byron Distillery
New South Wales, Australia
Whisky made where the rainforest meets the sea. Here’s another Aussie distillery doing great things. Located on a macadamia farm in the Byron Bay hinterland, Cape Byron Distillery is a small, family-run operation that produces gins, whiskies and liqueurs. The distillery released its first single malt in 2022. Master Distiller and co-founder Jim McEwan, AKA “the cask whisperer' is a true Scotch veteran and has a whopping 50+ years' experience in the industry who’s worked with the likes of Scotland’s Islay distilleries Bowmore, Bruichladdich and Ardnahoe.
Jim is the only distiller in the world to win Master Distiller of the year three times and in 2014, he was given a Hall of Fame lifetime achievement award. In 2023, Jim was made an MBE for services to the Scotch Whisky industry and to the community in Islay. During his 15 years as Master Distiller for Bruichladdich, Jim produced a number of innovative whiskies, including cult-favourite Octomore.
You better believe there’s incredible whisky on the horizon.
There you have it! Make sure you get hold of some of these whiskies and thank us later.