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Water of Life – Archie Rose’s Sticky Beak Festival

Despite the facts that distilleries are mushrooming on terra australis and Australian whiskey brands making quite a bit of a splash on international terrain and becoming household names, there are few local distilleries that are as accolade decorated as Archie Rose Distilling Co, no matter if it is their delicious gins or idiosyncratic whiskey expressions.

Needless to say, we were intrigued when we learned about Archie Rose teaming up with P&V wines and our favourite third-place Carriageworks to deliver the StickyBeak festival, i.e. a two-day extravaganza graced with curated drink and food offerings, tastings, masterclasses and cooking demonstrations galore, serenaded and set in scene against an audio backdrop courtesy of carefully selected DJs.

While we have been fans of Archie Rose’s core releases for the longest time and have been fortunate enough to cover quite a few as part of this series, I was particularly looking forward to the opportunity to taste expressions from their Trials & Exceptions series, which based on local ingredients and innovative approaches to the creation of unique flavour profiles, pays homage to the unique environment Archie Rose operates in.

As part of the whiskey-centric masterclass, it was fantastic to be introduced to Archie Rose’s partner Voyager Malts to learn more about how they source grain from independent family farms in a sustainable manner and supporting growers that foster and promote regenerative agricultural practices. As a result, each of the unique malts from New South Wales add facets to colouring the character of the versatile flavour profiles.

One of the more remarkable outputs of this collaboration materialized in what could be perceived as Australian’s whiskey answer to natural wine, i.e. the Single Paddock Malt Whisky, based on the usage of rye sourced from a single paddock and fermentation spurned by wild yeast from the field, thereby capturing the DNA of the terroir and bringing to life the idiosyncratic provenance.

Upon approach, tropical citrus peel nuances tickle the nostrils, with almond and almost peanut-butter-sweet highlights caressing the top of the mouth before an elegant, elongated finish round things out and leaves one lusting for another dram with a crescendo of moreish dark chocolatey notes.

However, it was the much fabled about native wood smoked malt trial expressions that stole the show. With the names being telling ones, Stringybark and Red Gum from New South Wales was used to smoke locally grown and malted barley provided by Voyager Craft Malt.

Redefining traditional approaches to distilling and by paying time-intensive meticulous attention to detail is extended to each aspect of the production process – be it yeast selection, the selection of the cask type or the maturation conditions in a bid to make no compromises in the pursuit of quality and distinction, Archie Rose raised the bar of what was thought to be possible down under.

The result is a selection of Pavlovian response evoking, benchmark-setting Australian equivalent to what I love about Islay whiskies with a twist, i.e. a pronounced level of smoke with notes of smoked meats and bacon dancing with strong eucalyptus and floral presence rounded out by a salty edge.

Given the quality of Archie Rose’s recent emissions, I cannot wait to taste where their ever-evolving visionary grain focussed celebrations of malt will lead them next, especially when it involves native woods to generate unique smoky aromas.


photos courtesy of @k.a.vv

T • November 29, 2022

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