Brooke Hayman, co-owner of SMWS partner bar Whisky & Alement in Melbourne, takes the title at blind-tasting competition to win trip for two to Edinburgh

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Brooke Hayman outdid all the competition on Saturday, 28 July to win the Australian Malt Whisky Tasting Championship, hosted by The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Sydney.

Whisky enthusiasts from all over Australia gathered to compete in (or spectate at) the nation’s biggest whisky competition, with everyone vying for a place on the podium to be crowned the Malt Whisky Tasting Champion of Australia.

Competitors gather for the Australian Malt Whisky Tasting Championship in Sydney.

Competitors had 30 minutes to assess eight whiskies in a blind-tasting format. Each competitor was provided with a list of nine possible whiskies – the eight on the table, plus one red herring. The task was to correctly identify which whisky was which.

This year’s selection featured a diverse line-up of malts that were intriguing, tasty, and had a mixture of peated, unpeated and Irish whiskey thrown in. Five competitors tied for first place, so a taste-off was held. This resulted in a clear first and second place, with a further taste-off required for third spot. Brooke, co-owner of SMWS partner bar Whisky & Alement in Melbourne, clinched the win.

As a reward for claiming first place, Brooke was crowned the Malt Whisky Tasting Champion of Australia and won a trip for two to Edinburgh, to attend a private tasting at The Vaults in Leith, the spiritual home of the SMWS, with accommodation included.

Brooke Hayman celebrates her win with SMWS ambassador to Australia, Matt Bailey.

Second prize was awarded to Matt Whisker – a bottle of Cask No. 127.44: Cantina Mexicana (a special Feis Ile bottling from 2015) and, courtesy of our friends at The Balvenie, a bottling of The Balvenie 21-year-old PortWood, signed by master distiller David Stewart. Third prize was courtesy of The Oak Barrel in Sydney which was a generous $750 (£420) gift voucher.

Four varied and unique single cask bottlings from the SMWS were featured at the Society Bar on the night, served up by SMWS member and tasting panelist, Murray Hassan as well as partner bar longtime associate, Ryan Gavin from Rockpool.

A line-up of whiskies for the blind tasting competition in Sydney.

The Balvenie was a generous supporter on the night as sponsor and hosted a delicious cocktail bar with both neat spirits and a pre-batched Balvenie Rob Roy cocktail. The competition, the Society bar, The Balvenie bar, the ‘Wild Planet’ room in the Australian Museum, the live music: all these elements combined to make a very enjoyable evening that we’ll be hosting again in 2020!