Taste Test - Archie Rose Distilling Co’s Single Malt Whisky
With bragging rights to being Sydney’s first (legal) distillery in 162 years, Archie Rose is always looking at breaking new ground. Let’s see how their Single Malt Whisky follows that path.
We wrote about Archie Rose and their original distillery site in Rosebury way back in 2015, not long after they opened their doors.
At the time, Archie Rose were still only selling their gin, vodka and new-make whisky and rye while they were waiting for their whisky to mature, and we knew absolutely nothing about distilling. It’s actually pretty funny reading this old story of our first ever visit.
In fact this might well have been our first ever distillery tour! How things have changed.
About Archie Rose Distillery
Archie Rose Distilling Co was founded in 2014—an incredible 162 years after the last distillery in Sydney shut up shop.
Why it’s taken so long to have distilleries back in the city is another story you can read about here, but with Archie Rose opening their doors, so began a revitalisation of Sydney’s spirits industry.
In the intervening years, Archie Rose has produced more and more incredible spirits. From elegant gins and vodkas to spectacular whiskies and rich velvety rums—you can shop them all here—it’s a distillery that’s always moving forward.
Most recently, Archie Rose took home the Distiller of the Year award at the World Gin Awards’ Icons of Gin 2023, and their head distiller, Dave Withers, received the Highly Commended award for Master Distiller of the Year.
About the Bottle
It feels like Archie Rose’s Single Malt Whisky has been a long time coming. The majority of their whisky—even some that was put into casks in 2015 when they first started—was only disgorged in 2020. Then as with many things, Covid overshadowed their releases. But boy, are they making up for it.
Each bottle has a wealth of information about what’s inside and what’s happened to get it there.
From data on the mash bill, barrel types used, and batch and bottle numbers to explanations on how the whisky was made, the label gives a lot. There’s also a link to a whole data bank on Archie Rose’s website where you can find out more about your specific batch. Pretty cool.
Grain and Barrel
Archie Rose’s Single Malt is made with six different types of barley from different regions of Australia and the world (most distilleries use one or two barley varieties in their mash). And each one is treated differently, from peat-smoking to light kiln drying.
This six-malt mash bill produces a very low-yield wash, but as it says on the bottle: "small sacrifice for a richs and expressive flavour".
The new-make was matured in mostly ex-Apera (Australian sherry) casks, but also some ex-bourbon barrels and Archie Rose’s own ex-whisky barrels too. Barrels were also treated in a range of different ways, from deep charring to toasting, which exposes the wood to a lower heat for a longer period of time.
This allows the ‘cooking’ of the timber to go deeper than charring alone. This kind of detail is another example of how excited distillers get about barrels!
To look at, this whisky has a beautiful golden copper colour with deeper oak and mahogany lowlights.
On the nose, there’s rich caramel, oak and cocoa, a lighter honey note and a gentle fruitiness too.
First sip gives a wonderful thick, rich texture that’s packed with malted chocolate, dark cherry and smooth vanilla. Sweetness of dried fruit butts nicely up against a dryness and slight salinity as you head towards the long satisfying finish.
I honestly can’t see any reason why you’d want to mix this wonderful whisky with anything other than a drop of water, but there’s nothing wrong with experimenting.
And to be honest, Archie Rose Single Malt doesn’t even need water to open it up.
In fact, water dilutes the lovely sticky textures of this whisky, so maybe just leave it alone. Better still, give it all to me!