Stocking the biggest and rarest collection of whisky (and whiskey) became a competitive sport when the dark spirit trend hit seven years ago.
We seemed to peak when Boilermaker House swung into town with its glittering shelves, solera system and Pappy Van Winkle nips for a bomb. But now Kelvin Low and Yao Wong (ex Whisky and Alement and Everleigh respectively) are stomping unchartered ground with a niche Brunswick Street whisky bar, Elysian.
It's a small space modelled on Japanese whisky bars – dark hues, and a solid length of tree as the command station – almost entirely stocked with independent bottlings from Japan, Taiwan, Scotland, India, Sweden (really) and the United States that you won't find anywhere else in Melbourne.
Independent bottlings are when a private collector buys barrels from a distillery, which, unblended, taste nothing like the, say, Lagavulin or Glenfiddich you know. It's a way for whisky nerds to get a unique taste of the distillery. They also allow for half nips to let you taste more for less.
Cocktails using a lot of fresh fruit flavours and sherry are also a focus, so you can get a blackberry and basil highball as well as your classic manhattans, though they're keeping the wine and beer list tight (it's more about pale ales to balance cask-strength whiskies rather than ballsy beers as a focus in their own right). For now, food is charcuterie and cheese boards, but come 2017, chef Ryo Kitahara will add the likes of blue cheese gnocchi and lamb shoulder to the party.
Open Tue-Sat 4.30pm-1am. (Closed December 25 and 26 and January 1.)
113 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 03 9417 7441, theelysianwhiskybar.com.au