Whilst Australia has a long history of whisky distilling, dating back to 1820, the whisky industry looks very different in the 21st century to when it begun. Distillation was legalised by the Australian government at the end of 1820, and by 1822 the first legal distillery was opened in Tasmania.
Prior to 1990, over 85% of whisky production came out of Victoria. While Tasmania had a small whisky industry in the early 1820s this ended quickly and there was no whisky produced in Tasmania between 1838 and 1990. Sydney also had two large distilleries in operation between 1825, and 1850 when their focus shifted to making rum instead.
It is estimated that a total of 140 million litres of whisky was produced in Australia between 1822, and 1979, however, no whisky was produced in Australia between 1980 and 1990. The Whisky industry in Australia can be broken down into three distinct periods: The colonial malt whisky period (1863–1929), The blended whisky period (1930–1980) and finally the boutique whisky period, since 1992.