Whispers of the first new distillery in Sydney for 160 years, first reached my ears last September. For the team behind Archie Rose Distillery, the process has been years in the making.
It’s been an ambitious project to get off the ground, not least tackling the license administrators, more familiar with breweries and wineries.
A couple of weeks ago I spent some time with Will Edwards, the founder of Archie Rose to learn more about the distillery and their plans (most of which are still secret!)
The Name “Archie Rose”
“To cut a long story short, we were looking back into Sydney’s distilling history and found a short and somewhat sketchy anecdote (as you don’t tend to write a lot down when you’re distilling illegally) of small collectives using the generic name of “Archie” to refer to the members, and provide a degree of anonymity. We liked the story and thought about how we could bring that history back to Rosebery, and the Archie & Rosebery just came together as “Archie Rose”. It’s nothing particularly grand or significant, but we like it.”
Joe Dinsmoor, Master Distiller, (formerly of the famous Lark Distillery in Tasmania) and Will had the still custom made to to their specification in Tasmania. It’s an interesting little beast, affectionately called ‘Lil’ Wayne’ by Joe. It features three different distillation points and I asked Will to explain the thinking behind the design:
“We are somewhat obsessed with control and flexibility at every stage of the setup (the reason behind steam as opposed to electric heating, and temp. controlled mash tun and washbacks) so we designed this slightly unusual gin still with three different infusion points: direct maceration in the pot, hot vapour infusion suspended in the base of the neck and cooler vapour infusion in the Carter head style basket in the Lyne Arm. This allows us to tailor the infusion point to the individual botanical, placing the most delicate or subtle botanicals in the Lyne Arm, and more resilient or robust botanicals directly into the pot. If you combine the three infusion points with the fact that we distil each of our 14 botanicals individually, there are a hell out of a lot of combinations and permutations to explore.”
The gin hasn’t been officially released yet and when I visited I was under strict instructions not to photograph the bottle, oh the secrecy! I had a little taster but I’m going to keep you in suspense until I review it properly. I can say that it’s a London Dry style and combines traditional and native Australian botanicals.
If the distillery was impressive, it was nothing compared to the bar area. Fitted out in beautiful oak and copper, it’s warm and inviting, suiting couples on a date or a group of friends catching up for a drink after work. Barrel-shaped booths have been commissioned especially, as has most of the bar. To break up the cavernous ceiling, a mezzanine floor has been installed, perfect for degustation dinners, tastings or private functions.
Archie Rose Distillery is only 10 minutes by taxi from Sydney airport which makes it a very easy place for me to stop off before I hit the city. I can very easily see it becoming my first port of call!
Archie Rose Distillery, 61 Mentmore Avenue, Rosebery, NSW, 2018. (For access to the bar, enter via 85 Dunning Avenue )