Cheers! To Archie Rose Distilling Co raising the bar!
In the 1990s through to the early 2000s, you could only find one or two types of gins at a bottle-o. This is vastly different to the range of hundreds of locally made craft varieties which fill liquor cabinets at top restaurants and at trendy, inner-city bars today.
Archie Rose Distilling Co. Founder, Will Edwards, is at the forefront of the boom. “It’s incredible to think that prior to 2013, Sydney had not been home to a distillery since the mid 1800s,” said Mr Edwards.
Flabbergasted, Mr Edwards, a self-confessed spirits lover, who dreamt of opening his own distillery started experimenting with spirits. Despite hitting a few roadblocks due to the lack of established distilleries in Australia, and uncertain how to go about establishing one, he pressed on. During his university studies in the fields of chemistry and engineering, he started experimenting with homebrew, spirit-based infusions and oak maturation, the fundamentals that underpin distillation.
What followed was an early career in management consulting where Mr Edwards travelled for more than six months from Tasmania, Australia to New York, United States visiting the post-prohibition distilleries of Brooklyn. It’s here he found his purpose and cause. In 2014, his dream became reality and Archie Rose Distilling Co. was born.
Opening it’s Rosebery distillery in Sydney that same year, today Archie Rose Distilling Co. bottles a diverse range of handcrafted, premium whiskies, gins, vodkas and rums, as well as one-off collaborations, limited releases and spirits experiences.
“We celebrate Australia’s rich history in distilling, whilst providing people with a unique behind the scenes look at the distilling process. The Archie Rose Bar is located mere metres from the original distillery, a place where people gather to savour our products in spirit flights, cocktails and other exceptional drinks from around the world,” Mr Edwards said.
Through its commitment to sharing knowledge and processes, in 2016 Archie Rose Distilling Co. launched its world-first Tailored Spirits which enables people to create their own personalised blend of gin, vodka or whisky complete with their name or brand on the bottle.
This inventive, collaborative way to make, drink, learn and enjoy the premium local spirits is adored by consumers.
In 2020, Archie Rose Distilling Co. opened its second distillery in Botany, Sydney, designed from the ground up by Mr Edwards and Master Distiller, Mr Dave Withers. The custom design features some globally unique production elements and has been labelled as “one of the most innovative distilleries in the world”. The world-first, 500 litre and 3,000 litre copper pot/column hybrid vacuum stills enable the production team to ‘cold distil’ their botanical distillates.
“It’s unbelievable technology that we are very proud of. It utilises the reduced boiling points created by drawing a vacuum within the still and eliminates the damaging impact of heat on delicate botanicals. These stills are also capable of more than twelve different configurations to ensure that the best flavour is extracted from every botanical.
“This investment cemented our commitment to continued innovation, whilst significantly expanding production capacity, enabling us to share more of our award-winning spirits – including whiskies, gins, vodkas, rums and others – with Australia and the world.
“And, while we find ingenuity in Australia’s illustrious distilling history, we are driven by innovative progression and inspired by the incredible crops and produce available in Australia,” he said.
Guided by the belief that spirits are best shared, their distillery doors are also open to all who wish to experience the best that authentic local distilling has to offer via thousands of tailored ‘Spirits Experiences’ at the Archie Rose Bar, Blend Your Whisky and Gin masterclasses, Bespoke Martini and Spritz Bars, or at one of the more than 500 private events and cultural festivals produced around the country including distillery tours.
Mr Edwards said at their heart was collaboration and that limited edition releases are created with like-minded partners. These products include super premium spirits, like the Neapolitan Three Spirit Pack, produced in partnership with bespoke gelato producer Gelato Messina and Twin Gins with the iconic Sydney Opera House.
“We truly love to collaborate, revolutionise and challenge what’s considered the norm in distilling. Education is key and we aim to share our process from grain to glass,” Mr Edwards said.
Archie Rose Distilling Co. spirits are now enjoyed across the nation through bottle shops and bars, and through partnerships with more than 25 leading cultural events and institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Adelaide Festival, Brisbane Festival, Sydney Writer’s Festival, and the Theatre Royal in Sydney.
Mr Edwards said opening one of Sydney’s first distilleries in more than 160 years in 2014, was an incredibly proud feat, especially considering the timing, when the Australian craft spirit industry was in its infancy.
“Today, significant growth over the years in the local Australian craft distillery industry has fostered our ability to innovate with a strong national and global appetite for exceptional spirits that showcase Australia,” he said.
“Keep creating, innovating, collaborating, educating – and providing more people the opportunity to drink quality, local spirits,” is the mantra embraced by Archie Rose Distilling Co. which drives the enthusiastic team to collaborate and brainstorm ideas in bi-annual new product development meetings.
“We are all inspired by the diverse, unique Australian ingredients available around the country and having a relationship with the land via local growers encourages us to stay in tune with the cycles of the season and harvests. It’s a humbling and constant reminder that great produce is the result of a year’s work of toil by both the farmer and the land.
“Our limited releases are testament to our desire to think outside the box and always have fun with distilling, like our Eau De Bee Honey Spirit, produced by fermenting blue gum honey from beehives on the rooftop of our distillery,” he said.
Partnering with like-minded producers and wholesalers who focus on sustainability and consider their impact with growing, harvesting and processing methods is a priority for Mr Edwards.
Manildra Group, a family-owned Australian company that produces the highest-quality grain neutral spirit sustainably from 100 per cent Australian wheat at its world-class seven-column distillery in Nowra, New South Wales, is an important Archie Rose Distilling Co. partner.
Head of Ethanol at Manildra Group is Debbie Forster, who said that they were extremely proud of the partnership as one of their first grain-neutral spirit customers in 2015 providing the award-winning distillery with a neutral-tasting and odourless premium alcohol base.
“Archie Rose Distilling Co. truly embraces the spirit of Australia – showcasing local ingredients through exceptionally unique distilling techniques to create world-class spirits that embody our own backyard.
“Will and his team have emerged as an industry leader in the crafts spirits industry, pushing boundaries with distilling technologies globally and ambitiously producing authentic magnificent local spirits which hero Australia,” she said.
“We proudly use Manildra Group’s grain neutral spirit, made from 100 per cent Australian wheat, which we never anticipated was possible seven years ago. After several trials, we deemed Manildra Group’s product the best for its consistent excellent quality, fundamental in our production processes,” Mr Edwards said.
“Manildra Group is focused on high-quality, consistency and using local raw materials, so it’s a perfect fit for us. Additionally, they’re independent and family-owned. We remain excited about our continued partnership as a baseline to our ongoing focus on innovation, sustainability and using local ingredients.”