Wednesday 31 July 2019

Tasted #458: Archie Rose Rye Malt Whisky tasting notes

7 odd years ago when we started this little blog, the Australian whisky scene was a very different place. Most people equated "Australian Whisky" with "Tasmanian" (and to be fair, Tasmania did dominate the scene), Starward was called "Victoria Valley Distillery" (and hadn't yet released a whisky), and Sydney was going on 160 years without a whisky distillery.

Then in 2014, Archie Rose came along with their close proximity to Sydney city, stunning bar, unparalleled transparency and a fresh attitude to spirits, and (along with Starward, who released their first whisky in 2013) the scene began to change.

Now to be fair to the plethora of other Australian whisky producers, we're not for a moment suggesting that Archie Rose and Starward single (double?) handedly grew the scene. There are some incredible smaller producers who began distilling or releasing whisky in the same period (as just one example, I'm particularly fond of Fleurieu Distillery who released their first whisky a few years ago) and they've all absolutely been a key part of making the industry what it is today (as have bars like Whisky and Alement and Bad Frankie who do a stellar job educating drinkers on Aussie spirits). It has to be acknowledged though that both Starward and Archie Rose, with their unique releases, focus on quality, marketing, transparency and significant social media footprints, have definitely helped thrust Aussie spirits further into the global limelight than they were previously.

As many distilleries do, Archie Rose started out with white spirits - Gin, Vodka and White Rye, and over the past 5 years they've added a Tailored Spirits program (where you can get your own tailored spirit for under $90AUD!), aged beer spirita bevy of fascinating and collectible gins, rhums, and even a "buttered toast spirit".

Earlier this month though, finally, whisky arrived, in the form of the very tasty Chocolate Rye Malt, limited to 1148 bottles, available at a very reasonable $149AUD and all sold in under 3 hours. 

That's not what this post is about though. This post is about what comes next - tomorrow, in fact. Tomorrow (1st August 2019) Archie Rose release their first "core range" whisky - Archie Rose Rye Malt Whisky. Limited to 2,071 individually-numbered bottles (for Batch 1), the whisky represents a watershed moment for the distillery - the culmination of 5 years of incredibly hard work. To quote the distillery:
"To create this truly unique whisky, we selectively sourced rare malted rye and the finest malted barley from progressive malt houses, paired them with virgin American oak casks air-dried for 36 months and let it all mature in the maritime air of coastal Sydney."

AR were kind enough to send Hendy and I a generous sample ahead of its release, and in summary we were both blown away by its elegance and complexity. If this is what we can come to expect from Archie Rose whisky, well, the future is looking very tasty indeed.

Archie Rose Rye Malt Whisky Batch 1 (46% ABV, NAS*, Sydney, Australia, $119AUD)

Martin's tasting notes:

Colour: Deep intense fiery orange. 

Nose: Far more complex than you expect a rye to be. Perfumed. Vanilla spice. There's definitey sweetness, but also hints of anise, barbecued pineapple, then citrus. Butter menthols. Honey. This is not your average rye.

Palate: The spice is there but there’s also a confectionary sweetnesss and a citric acid element. Rich & robust but never close to harsh, there's also a toffee sweetness and gooey, warming caramel.

Finish: Long and warming, slightly vegetal, absolutely no harsh tannins or overt spice, though there's some cinnamon spice at the end.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale):  92/100. Just incredible elegance and complexity from a first release, rye-based spirit.


Hendy's tasting notes:

Colour: Maple Syrup.

Nose: The nose is striking with sweet sticky bush honey, a little bit of oak, Speculaas and then some more glazed cherries, vanilla and ladened with loads of citrus (orange peel).

Palate: The palate eases you into a gentle spice, a sticky citrus sponge cake welcomes you followed by some pop rocks popping candy that represents the subtle spices and then some more oranges.

Finish: The finish is long with some cinnamon, some cherries and lingering peppery spice.

*No Age Statement, but if you check the whisky's spirit data you can find all the specs you could possibly want, including the barreling and disgorgement dates on each of the whisky's 40 casks!

We congratulate Dave, Will, and all the guys and girls at Archie Rose for what is nothing short of a fantastic product - and an exciting development for the Australian whisky scene. We can't wait to see what the future brings, especially the first malted barley release in 2020!

Archie Rose Rye Malt Whisky goes on sale on Thursday 1st August 2019. Limited bottles will be available online, at the distillery, or via launch day events. Expect them to sell out very, very quickly.


Enjoying a sample of 5 month old Archie Rose Single Malt from the cask, with Master Distiller (and good friend of TimeforWhisky) Dave Withers.