Archie Rose Botany: “The world’s most innovative distillery”

Archie Rose Distilling Co. has completed and commenced production at its new distillery on the border of Botany and Banksmeadow in Sydney.

Located just 4km south of the original Archie Rose distillery in Rosebery, the Archie Rose Botany site will support increased production of the company’s whiskies, gins, vodkas, rums and other spirits.

The distiller claims it features a number of “custom designed and world-first production elements”, enabling Archie Rose to transition to “cold distilled” botanicals for its gin & vodka ranges, as well as a highly innovative and patented whisky production process that has been in development for over four years.

Australia’s largest distillery

Archie Rose’s original Development Application lodged with Bayside Council estimated the value of the Botany distillery project at $7.4 million.

But founder Will Edwards told Drinks Adventures the final investment was considerably more than that foreshadowed in 2017.

“The distillery is Australia’s largest in terms of production capacity… with the level of investment being significant and in keeping with a site of this scale, and the level of world-first innovation,” Edwards said.

Will Edwards and Dave Withers at the new Archie Rose Botany site
Will Edwards and Dave Withers at the new Archie Rose Botany site

He said the innovation and flexibility built into the new distillery is, “as far as we know, unprecedented at this scale”.

“It allows us to absolutely commit to techniques and processes we’ve spent the past six years delving deep into at our Rosebery distillery, including specialty roasted local malts, cold-distilled botanical distillates and individually distilled malt whisky streams,” Edwards said.

Archie Rose Botany innovations

The design has resulted in Archie Rose evolving from a traditional full lauter mash tun setup to a mash filter (one of only a handful in the world used in distilling) to better process and extract flavour from each of Archie Rose’s seven characterful malts, including specialty roasted local malts and heritage varieties grown for Archie Rose exclusively.

Archie Rose has also installed two new copper pot whisky stills. The remarkable stills both have neck cooling jackets allowing the production team to adjust the reflux and style of spirit in a way that could typically only be achieved by altering the shape of the still. Each spirit produced can therefore be customised and refined to accentuate the flavour of the malt and suit the nominated cask type and size.

The Archie Rose team has also begun a patented “individual malt” process for producing whisky, whereby each malt in the six-malt mash bill is milled, mashed, fermented, distilled and matured separately, allowing the Archie Rose team to tailor every step of the production process, yeast selection, cask type and maturation conditions to each specific malt, rather than having to settle for “average” conditions that suit the whole mash bill.

Specific to gins, Archie Rose has designed and installed identical 500 litre and 3000 litre copper pot/column hybrid vacuum stills, the only example of their kind in the world, allowing the production team to ‘cold distil’ their botanical distillates by utilising the reduced boiling points created by drawing a vacuum within the still, and eliminating the damaging impact of heat on delicate botanicals. The stills are also capable of more than 12 different configurations including a column, carter head, dephlegmator and purifier to ensure that the best flavour is exacted from every botanical.

Archie Rose has also begun R&D for the production of a molasses spirit, including a dedicated research lab in which desktop fermentations, distillations and sensory analysis, “can be carried out with the utmost precision”.

The R&D centre will be used to trial, optimise and push the boundaries of traditional rum production techniques as well as bolster the continuous improvement and innovation of the currently distilled whiskies, gins and vodkas.

“When we started designing this distillery, we had the opportunity to look at how we were distilling and what excited us with fresh eyes,” says Edwards.

“From our time at Rosebery, we were able to test and pressure check many of the traditional methods of production, and found that in many ways they didn’t make sense or didn’t produce the best result, so we had to move beyond them and, often drawing inspiration from innovative brewers, winemakers, growers and other producers, establish new traditions from which to build upon.”

“For six years, we have championed the quality and distinct regional character of the raw materials we use, and now we can complement those rare ingredients with a uniquely progressive approach to distilling,” says Master Distiller, Dave Withers.

“This distillery is so brimming with flexibility and ground-breaking innovation it is as if we combined a 12 craft distilleries into one.”

Sustainability initiatives

The site also features a number of advanced energy efficiency measures, reducing power, gas and water usage per LAL by more than 30 per cent from Archie Rose’s Rosebery site, with all spent grain, botanicals and pot ale being recycled into livestock feed or natural fertiliser.

A centralised bond store at the new site also means existing whisky stock can be more proactively monitored, and a dedicated drinks lab will allow for increased production of bottled cocktails and other products in the pipeline.

The new distillery has also allowed Archie Rose to bring all of its packaging, raw materials and office team back under one roof.

The Botany distillery will also provide contract distilling services to other drinks producers, while the Rosebery site will feature an expanded cellar door, spirits education and events offering.

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Author: James Atkinson

Journalist specialising in the food, drink, travel and hospitality arenas. Australian International Beer Awards 2017 Media Award Winner and Certified Cicerone®.

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