A Taren Point distillery has won a national award for its prized liqueur.
Scylla Distilling Co, which recently moved from Heathcote, snagged the gold medal and 'best liqueur' win for its raspberry tipple, knocking out almost 100 competitors.
Hosted by Melbourne Royal - formerly The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, and launched in 2015, the awards is Australia's first and largest national spirits competition highlighting the innovation and excellence of Australian-manufactured spirits, liqueurs, aromatics and vermouths.
It offers entrants the opportunity to benchmark against set criteria, receive invaluable independent feedback from industry experts, and be rewarded for excellence in a growing sector.
Entries in the 2023 Melbourne Royal Australian Distilled Spirits Awards were assessed by 53 of Australia's industry experts across three day of blind taste testing, with points give for appearance, nose, palate, balance and finish.
The Sutherland Shire trio behind Scylla Distilling Co scored silver in 2022, but worked hard to improve their recipe this year.
Co-founded by couple John and Zoe Williams, and Justin Atic, the crew launched into the company after leaving the corporate world. A desire to churn fruity alcohol - not bank notes, was the turning point into liqueur production.
Mr Atic's grandparents also have been making rakija, a Serbian spirit for generations, so it was a natural step into the beverages sector.
Made with ruby red raspberries grown in Tasmania and NSW, sugar and vanilla from tropical North Queensland, their liqueur was described as having an authentic and fresh raspberry flavour with a smooth and light mouthfeel.
The process of making the winning drink starts with soaking hundreds of kilograms of raspberries for longer than they usually had - this time, for eight weeks, in stainless steel tanks of 300 litres of watered-down vodka - about 70 per cent alcohol. The liquid is then squeezed in a press and filtered through to remove any chunks - but with a little sediment to retain flavour.
"Raspberry liqueur was the drink that started our fruit liqueurs range. These are unique in the liqueur space as they are made using the natural goodness of real fruit, instead of artificial colours and flavours," Mrs Williams said.
"We were also intentional about making a higher price point because we didn't want to put something on the market that was easy to access so as not to encourage binge drinking."
It takes just one punnet of raspberries to make a single bottle of the prized liqueur.
"We knew there was something special about this one," Mr Williams said.
The team also hopes to get noticed with their passionfruit and lychee liqueurs in the competition in 2024, and is also working on bringing gin products to the local market.
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