Simon’s Picks… Smuggler’s Den

A fake saloon set up for tourists on thier way to Canada in the 1920s. Visitors would pose for photos to make them look like they were 'Scofflaws'...

Alright, so this week my pick o’ the bunch is a little bit of shameless self promotion for a wee idea the team here at Spanton Media came up with for Sydney BarShow in September. We’ve decided to create an all new area dedicated to the industry’s hooch snipers, still-whackers and law-loose-liquor-lovers called the ‘Smuggler’s Den’.

The Den will offer self-proclaimed scofflaws (if you’re unfamilar with this term you should click here) a speakeasy-style VIP bar showcasing premium spirits currently unavailable in Australia. For a small entry fee (to sift out those tight pursed Anti-Saloon League members) you’ll be able to sample 20 fine liquors, over two days (10 different products per day) and what’s more you get to choose what’s on the menu.

Simply email myself ( the products that you’d like to see on Australia shores and we’ll endeavour to smuggle them past those darned Temperance types for your delectation.

Alternatively you can simply start posting some of your favourite spiritous picks below. I’ll even get the ball rolling… I’d like to see Zwack Unicum. If you haven’t tried this the best way I can describe it is that it’s like Fernet Branca on roids… Discuss.  


The Smugglers Den will be open from 11.30am till 5.30pm September 22 & 23. You must be registered for Sydney BarShow (click here) and entry will cost an additional $25 payable at the entrance to the show allowing you access on both days. Stock will be strictly limited.      

  1. Great idea. I would love to put my hand up for George T Stagg Bourbon. It was voted ‘Best American Whiskey in the Universe’ or somthing at the World Whiskey Awards last year and is apparently something else. I believe it is from the Buffalo Trace stable…. maybe. When do we find out what is picked?

  2. Good question!

    Well we should be able to tell everyone what will be available a week or two before the show. We’re going to have to pull a few strings to get everything over here, but I’m pretty confident that we’ll be able to get some pretty outstanding tipples!

    Oh and George T Stag is a great start. Keep ’em coming…

  3. Some of the 18yo Yamazaki would be amazing to test out to compare to the yamazaki 12yo that we can get here..

  4. oh and maybe to top it all off some don julio 1942 and or the julio real..

  5. Yamazaki 18y… Nice how about some Yoichi 10 or 20 year too? Definitely not enough Japanese Whisky out here and they’re a lot closer to us than Scotland!

  6. Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old Bourbon please….. the 13 year old rye as well?
    Awesome. And some tequila please, el tessoro paradiso extra anejo for a start. And some freakin’ snake wine from thailand with the cobras in it. Stonking.

  7. I hear you Mr Wastell. We’ll deifinitely organise a Tequila or two don’t you worry about that!

    Wine with scorpions in it might be a little more difficult, but I’ll give it a go…

  8. I’d like to see some small Mexican family’s artisinal Mezcal that isn’t even sold commercially in Mexico, possibly with a scorpion… 
    Some 100% Corn whiskey, I’ve got a jug of the Platte Valley 3yo from Kentucky that is great but I’m thinking something distinctly less quality, like something that comes in a jar… “Georgia Moon”.
    Laird & Company Applejack
    Lambanog from the Phillipines
    Alberta Springs 10yo, 100% Rye Canadian whisky
    Black Maple Hill 23yo Single Barrel Rye
    Charanda from Mexico… Don’t know of any brands…
    And then the rums…
    That gunpowder rum from New Zealand that Winchester brought for the last bar show, was it “Man O War”?
    Foursquare spiced rum
    Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum
    Doorly’s XO rum
    Barbancourt 5 star
    Cruzan Single Barrel
    Cruzan Black Strap
    El Dorado 25yo
    Wray & Nephew 17yo… Jokes… I pray that one day I’ll stumble across this on a dusty bottle shop shelf…

    Hope to drink one or two of these come September,
    Cheers Lee

  9. Just took stock of the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20yo bourbon. Believe the hype. I was always under the impression that boubon couldn’t take that much time in wood and have tasted a sample from Mr Jared Plumber of a bourbon that had seen to much wood so I know it can happen. Bourbon by law must use new oak, but I’m wondering if the Van Winkle rests in older oak in the same way cognac does to oxidise suspentions to produce keytones that we perceive as rancio. Anybody know? Anyways only have one bottle so come up and try some if you,re in our neck of the woods. Also have a couple of bottles of both the Van Winkle Special Reserve 12yo and the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15yo if anyone digs on their bourbon.
    T Dub

  10. Lee,

    That’s a fairly comprehensive list! I tried a great Mezcal at Byblos recently from the Mezcal Del Maguey range I believe it was the ‘Chichicapa’ . Check out

    Seamstress has or had the Balck Mapple Hill 23yo rye (i think it was that bottling) so I’ll see if Jackie Chan will give away some secrets about where he sourced some of this stuff.

    As far as the rum goes we’re still waiting for Angus to confirm that he’s coming out, but we’ve definitely got another couple of international guests we can call in a favour or two from.

    That’s a bloody good start anyway mate! I had better get working!

    Keep ’em coming gents!

  11. Hmmm, its funny you know. As soon as you move overseas you realise how little Aus gets. What a shame considering how evolved Australia is in the bar scene. Geography is a bitch. Gezza, went to the Beefeater distillery recently and tried ‘Wet’, terrible mate. Just take some crap gin and mix it with 1-10th of a sugary pear liq. As for crown jewel the guy was harping on about the ‘secret formula’ used and telling everyone he couldnt tell us what was in it. I turned to a tecnician that was walking past the still and asked hin the differnece, he didnt seem mfazed and told me ‘Grapefruit peel’. Nice.

    As for stuff ive seen and wish you guys got back home id have to definately say more Japanese whiskies rather than just Yama12. There is a coffey malt floating around i love, aswell as the 17yo Hibiki (Lost in Translation whisky), aswell as Yama18 which -although being expensive – top notch!!

    Bols have also realeased a new genever for the premium market which is ace and npt gunna blow the budget. (perfect for the Martinez)

    Aswell as these fine products im looking into distributing the worlds finest coconut cream myself..go Coco Lopez!!!! Stay tuned..

  12. Thanks Simon, next time I’m down in Melbourne I’ll chase down the Rye from Jackie…
    Tim, you’re absolutley right, geography is a bitch!!! I think that this is a really good reason for us to support our domestic spirit trade. Maybe for that reason there should be some Sullivans Cove Double Cask and some other quality Aussie whiskies for the ‘smuggler’s den’… Maybe all the Tassie distilleries could share a stand at bar show??? They are making some really good stuff and it’d be great to see them get some love from our top bars and salesmen.
    I just had some of the Hibiki with David at Low 302 the other day, top stuff!

  13. McBrayer 1913, a bottle of bourbon style whiskey shipped by cask to France in 1920, the start of the great experiment, bottled 3 years later in Paris. The original distillery closed and never reopened. 
    Arette Tequila would be nice aswell and Chinaco Anejo Negra Tequila. 

  14. Yo yo Simon!
    All this booze sounds great, but how about some rare bitters? Lets get some Amargo Chuncho for some tasty Piscos!
    The capel pisco in the easter island statue decanter is not ridiculously priced, and makes for a good sour!

  15. haha, my last visit home i brought back a bottle of Bakery Hill Peated for the guys in London to try. Loved it. Your right about Sullivalns cove, good stuff. Larks pepperberry gin should also get props and lets not forget inner cirle rum. Top aussie spirits.

    Matty, (how you doing!!?) Arette is great! *if youre ever in Melbourne, i bought back a blanco for the Black Pearl guys to sell on. That whisky sound great.

    Ryan, youll be happy to know the guys at Bombay have recreated bokers bitters from a bottle found from the 19th century. I was lucky enough to try some and to be honest didnt rate it that highly. I guess its tough trying bitters on its own though. Bring on a manhattan i say.

  16. Matt,

    I have to say while, I admire your whiskey nerdiness, where the hell am I going to find a bottle McBrayer 1913 (as amazing as its sounds)? Should I throw in some Wray & Nephew 17y while I’m at it? I knew someone was going to make this hard for me!

    Besides, if I could get hold of something like that do you think I’d share it at BarShow? I’m normally generous to a fault, but everyone has a breaking point don’t they?

    Chinaco and Arete on the other hand we should be able to have a crack at… Also the Amargo bitters should be do-able Ryan. I’ve seen the odd bottle floating around Aus bars as it is.

    At this stage I’d like to point out that we want to showcase products that aren’t available in Australia, but maybe should be. We’ll of course throw in a couple of bottles of something special to keep everyone on there toes, but we certainly won’t have any pre-phylloxera Cognacs or anything that extreme…

    Apart form that keep it coming! we’re starting to build up a respectable list.


  17. Hi Tim,

    That’s some good news about Brokers… Mate it’s funny you’ve said all that about the local products; we’ve got a story from Philip Duff in the next issue about the lure of the exotic versus the all too familar local.

    I tried an interesting Lark Distillery Peperberyy liqueur recently too called ‘Briole’ and Tamborine Mountain Violette liqueur seems to be floating around a bit too. It’s funny how quickly we dismiss local products for the imports though and there’s quite the little local industry… maybe something to look at during the ‘Global Finacial Crisis?

    But the grass is always greener…

  18. Oh and you can get Capel pisco in NZ…

    There’s also this really enthusiastic Peruvian importer that brings in Payet Pisco in a few different aromatic styles…

  19. Ive been trying to get Del Maguey here since i got off the boat and have a man who reckons he will have it here soon. It is the utter nuts!

    Arete has been flowing in Match Bar & Grill since September and I can sling in a bottle for the right people. We are running low but more supplies are on the way. I have also got some corn whiskeys on the way. I have some 1932 Overholt rye in a secret place and know a man with some Bacardi from around the same time. 
    Your right about looking at home first (dont get me started on”import” beers). Sadly Bakery Hill, Lark, Sullivans Cove are all  real pain for me to get through our regular wholesale (sit up and notice wholesalers!)

    Wray and Nephew! YES
    A bonded applejack.
    Tapitio (I have some on the way!)
    El Tesoro… MMM
    Sailor Jerry. I’ve got a few bottles knocking around but your not missing much.
    Doorleys white 
    E H Fields

  20. Any of the Buffalo Trace special editions….
    W L Weller Barrel Proof
    Thomas Handy Sazerc
    Eagle Rare 10 

    George Dickle
    Maker Mark Black Top

    JC Familia blanco…. mmmm 

  21. Why don’t you get some of the more unique whiskies that people in Europe haven’t even tried like the Welsh whisky Penderyn or the Swedish whisky Mackmyra? And I agree with Lee, how about some Georgia Moon corn whiskey, the stuff that comes in a wide mouth jar? What about that new Beefeater 24? I’ve tried it and it shits all over the Wet!

    Oh by the way you all should know that a lot of the Bourbons and Rums you’ve been asking about are available through The Odd Whiskey Coy here in Adelaide

  22. I had a Bottle…..No scratch that, Jar…of Georgia moon at Harlem. For what it is I think it’s a great product and the jar is seriously gold. Best moonshine I ever tasted. As Tim said earlier as soon as you move over to London You realise what Aus is missing. Working with diageo at the moment I get to see some wierd and wonderful things! try the Cragganmore 10 yo Cask strength and the Oban Distillers Edition.

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