Stanthorpe distiller Cedric Millar is now more than ‘King’ of his own castle, rightly now also a ‘King of Bitters’, taking out a National Gold Medal for his Aromatic Bitters at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards 2020.
It’s a sweet victory for one of the Granite Belt’s most unique attractions, Castle Glen Australia, where Cedric crafts a treasure trove of liqueurs, spirits, beers, ciders and wines inside the distinctive castle he also crafted with his own hands.
The Australian Distilled Spirits Awards (ADSA) is the first and only national awards program recognising excellence in Australian distilled spirits and liqueurs. Cedric reflected on the stiff competition, “most distilleries in Australia enter and so it’s very competitive.
“We’re really happy that we managed to get a Gold because it’s getting harder and harder with more distilleries opening in Australia and more entering products in the competition than ever before,” Cedric said.
In any normal year, Cedric and his wife and business partner Carol-Anne would have flown to Melbourne for the Awards Evening, however this year Covid-19 saw them join with distillers from across Australia in an Awards Presentation online.
“It was a little different this year, because when the awards couldn’t go ahead in March the judging and awards ended up happening later in the year, as organisers had to overcome some big logistical hurdles,” he said.
“The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria who organise the awards had to get all of the samples to the judging panel, who instead of gathering in Melbourne were spread all around Australia.
“Because it’s all blind judging, every single product had to have an identifying number and each sent to each of the judges.”
Head Judge Mr Seb Costello said “when lockdown eased in October, it was a huge effort to pack and mail all of the exhibits for the judges to assess the spirits online”.
“The huge jump in entries from 337 last year to 619 this year required a substantial increase in the number of judges,” Seb said.
Cedric’s Aromatic Bitters has been previously recognised with three consecutive Silver Medals in 2017, 2018 and 2019, culminating in Gold recognition this year for his closely-held ‘secret blend of natural herbs and spices’.
The awards provide Australian distillers with an essential benchmarking opportunity. This year 53 gold, 204 silver and 203 bronze medals were awarded.
“We always put 12 products in the awards and this year we ended up with 10 being awarded,” said Co-Owner and Director Carol-Anne Millar.
“Our 10-year-old Whiskey won Silver this year and we were really happy with that,” she said.
“Whiskey is a highly competitive category and to get recognition at these awards for your whiskey is really up there.
“We first entered in the ASDA in 2015 and we proved the excellence of our products right from the beginning when we took out the highest award, Gold Medal and Champion Liqueur for our ‘Pecan & Hazelnut Liqueur’, and we were even named a Finalist in the Distiller of the Year Award.
“In 2016 Castle Glen we again scored a big win with a Gold Medal and Champion Liqueur for our ‘Golden Knight’ – Peppermint Schnapps with 23kt Gold Flakes’.
“Production at Castle Glen Australia has gone to a new level in 2020, with the arrival of new custom-designed and built still to accommodate the business’ growth.
“At 2,000 litre capacity, our new steam driven still is one of the largest in Queensland.
“It’s a very welcome addition to our manufacturing arsenal because it’s reduced the time it takes to produce a 200 litre drum of spirit from five days to five hours.”
The doors are open to visitors to Castle Glen Australia 7 days a week in The Summit, north of Stanthorpe.