Nestled in Rosebery’s The Cannery Precinct, Sydney’s first distillery since 1853 has recently opened the doors to it’s on-site bar. Archie Rose is the product of founder Will Edwards’ thorough research into the world of distillation. After months of trialing, the team at Archie Rose have created three unique spirits: Original Vodka (700mL bottle $69), Signature Dry Gin (700mL bottle $74) and White (un-aged) Rye Whisky (700mL bottle $89) as well as a selection tailored and aged spirits in production. There are no secret ingredients at this distillery, the Archie Rose team want to be transparent when it comes to what makes their spirits so good which is why they’ve set up daily tours of the distillery.
Surrounded by copper and wooden barrels, we were escorted through the distillery by bartender and Archie Rose ambassador Lachlan Beange. During the hour-long tour we not only learnt about the history of Sydney distillation but also about the process that goes into creating Archie Rose’s white rye whisky and gin. Along the way we tried the different stages of the whisky and experienced it’s different flavour palettes.
After malted barley and hot water are added to the mash tun and stirred by hand the starches of the grain are turned into fermentable sugars. The resulting liquid drained is a sweet and syrupy malt extract; its grainy taste is far from the end product.
The malt extract is then ready to be fermented. After around a week or so the single malt barley develops a sour taste that is reminiscent of an apple cider. This tastes is the result of the malt extract reacting to the yeast in the fermentation tanks.
After distilling in large copper stills, the final white rye whisky is produced. What surprises whisky amateurs like myself is the colour of the whisky. Expecting a brown liquid, as is common-place in the world of whisky, I was confused by the clear liquid in my glass. As it turns out, whisky obtains it’s colour during its ageing process from the wooden barrels it is stored in, which also affect its flavour. While Archie Rose currently has some of their spirits in the ageing process, they are not yet old enough to be sold. I did, however, try the unaged whisky: a biscuity and peppery spirit with a note of honey. After adding some of Archie Rose’s specially filtered water the flavours of the whisky opened up even further to produce a truly pleasant drink.
Never in my life would I think I would enjoy drinking a straight spirit. Which is why I was surprised to find myself trying all three of Archie Rose’s spirits. What increased my astonishment further was the unexpected enjoyment I experienced while doing so. The vodka was a fantastic fresh fruity mix while the dry gin was a spicy blend of honey and citrus. What makes Archie Rose’s gin so special is the unique mixture of Australian native botanicals including as lemon myrtle, river mint and blood limes. After distilling various flavours in a short copper pot a beautiful well-rounded dry gin is created.
It’s this dry gin that creates the beautifully crisp and unique Gin and Tonic ($8.50) I tried after my interesting and engaging tour. This G&T is made with a Bush Tonic made of natural and native ingredients including lemon myrtle and local honey. You’ll be able to find classic cocktails like this or some of Archie Rose’s signature cocktails in the their onsite bar.
Elements of the bar mirror those of the distillery, with copper, stone and wooden features creating a modern-rustic feel. An assortment of bottles, jars and droppers line the walls and benches which create a space reminiscent of an apothecary. Upstairs a mezzanine is available for masterclasses and functions.
The cocktails that are served are created and named by the Archie Rose team, some of which have interesting stories attached to them. If you get the chance I’d encourage you to ask the bar staff about some of the names of the signature drinks. From the cocktail list I tried a Sydney South Side ($19) made with Archie Rose vodka shaken with mint, elderflower, lime and topped with sparkling wine. A refreshing drink with a citrus base flavour and touch of mint, this cocktail would be perfect all year round. If you want to try it though you’ll have to get in quickly as Archie Rose will be changing their drinks menu very soon.
I was also lucky enough to try one of the brand new drinks created by Lachlan himself. Although unnamed as of yet this cocktail was the perfect summer drink. With ingredients such as nutmeg, passionfruit and Archie Rose’s white rye, this punch was the perfect combination of spicy and fruity.
After visiting the bar and distillery, it became clear to me what is behind the success and quality of Archie Rose’s products; it is a direct result of the team’s expertise, hard work and down-to-earth personality. It’s this kind of attitude that the team apply to their daily work that makes me wish that Archie Rose was my local bar. From inviting drinkers to experience the creation of their spirits to allowing grazers to bring food from the kitchen next door, Archie Rose’s sense of community is self-evident.
Archie Rose Distilling Co.
85 Dunning Ave, Roseberry 2018
Phone: (02) 8458 2300