Water of Life – Archie Rose
With the distillery having started out with a focus on “white” spirits currently being dedicated to the large scale production of hand sanitiser to combat the spread of Covid-19 and their stunning bar being closed, it surely must have been exciting news coming in from the old world:
Having been lauded the World's Best Rye Whisky at the 2020 incarnation of the World Whiskies Awards in London, Archie Rose Distillery has now firmly established itself on global territory with its Rye Malt Whisky – a spirit category that is usually dominated by North American distillers from the Kentucky whiskey trail.
What Archie Rose Rye Malt Whisky accomplished is the infusion of a category with an innovative approach by creating a very different expression of rye, i.e. one that is distilled from malted grain and matured in air dried American oak barrels, rather than a mere homage to what is tested and tried with the more traditional American ryes and the ones merely characterized by spicy nuances.
Vatted rather than being a single cask product, AR’s Rye Malt is released in numbered batches – now, what might sound like a bit of a lottery is quality controlled by blind tasting along the way and across batches to ensure consistency and the elimination of discrepancies – quite a feat given its textured complexity. A testament to their focus on meticulous process, transparency and quality.
While Rye is usually not necessarily a favourite, it proved hard to resist what tickled the nostrils once uncorked, i.e. a sublime melange of aniseed and liquorice that rests on a bed cider-esque apple notes. The creaminess that caresses the top of the roof adds further depth to what the aroma promised and accentuates it further with gingery spicy highlights that seamlessly transitions into an elongated finish which serves with its dry yet rich nutty undertones as counterpoint to the initial sweetness.
Gin is usually not my go to but Archie Rose’s Harvest Gin from 2019 intrigued me as not only has the distillery continuously raised the bar with its white spirit emissions, but the fact that with this one, the focus was set on Australia's produce with the peel of a tangelo-pomelo hybrid with bright yellow skin being the star of the show, flanked by bergamot, emerald green finger lime, lemon-scented gum and orange blossom.
The result is not only a celebration of seasonal variation but an exercise par excellence in marrying a subtle sweetness with citrus and lime zest, the result of which is a highly sippable gin that does not even need any tonic or other garnishes to be enjoyed.
Given that Archie Rose complements its core range with exquisite limited releases and collaborations, you do want to keep checking in on what is happening at the distillery – one that is already en route to become a household name with whiskey aficionados around the world.
image from company website