Morris Whisky begins new chapter for Rutherglen wine icon

Morris Whisky is the latest high profile entrant to the Australian whisky segment, leveraging the history of renowned fortified wine producer Morris of Rutherglen.

Founded in 1859, Morris is regarded as one the best fortified wine producers in the world.

The winery was acquired by Casella Family Brands in 2016 and managing director John Casella has previously hinted that a whisky venture was in the pipeline.

Casella established a new company, Copper & Grain Distilling, that is producing the Morris whiskies on the original hybrid copper pot and column still installed for the production of base spirits at the Morris site in the early 1930s.

The Morris single malt whiskies will be made from 100 per cent local ingredients, then finished in barrels previously used for ageing Morris fortified wines.

The debut whiskies, Morris Australian Single Malt Signature Whisky and Australian Single Malt Muscat Barrel Whisky, are launching later in June 2021. Both were awarded gold medals pre-release at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Morris Australian Single Malt Signature Whisky

Casella was advised in the whisky venture by veteran distillers John McDougall, formerly of Balvenie, Laphroaig and Springbank; and the late Dr Jim Swan, previously of brands including Kilchoman, Kavalan and Bowmore.

“Both Scotsmen were integral to designing a unique barrel maturation program, including barrel selection and providing the team with a special and unique barrel toasting regime,” the media release says.

Darren Peck (ex-Diageo) has been appointed as Morris head distiller and has worked under the tutelage of McDougall for the last five years to craft the whisky.

“We are creating a unique Morris Whisky style that speaks to our home in Rutherglen,” says Peck.

Morris Australian Single Malt Muscat Barrel Whisky
Morris Australian Single Malt Muscat Barrel Whisky

“Made with Australian barley malted at the family brewery and pure, filtered water from the Snowy Mountains, Morris Whisky reflects not only the world-class fortified barrels but also its regional Victorian provenance.”

“As part of the process, we apply double distillation through our hybrid copper pot and column still and mature in a combination of French and American oak barrels sourced from family-owned wineries in the Barossa and Coonawarra regions.

“These barrels are all prepared by hand at our private cooperage to a specific method, which imparts the unique Morris of Rutherglen flavour profile. Coupled with the local climate of hot summer days and cool nights, these conditions are perfect for ageing and creating the unique and distinctive Morris Whisky taste.”

Vanguard Luxury Brands has been appointed the exclusive Australian distributor of Morris Whisky, securing ranging in premium bars, retailers and restaurants across the country, commencing in June 2021.

“Morris whiskies provide an unbeatable combination of provenance and quality at an affordable price – something unseen thus far in the industry here,” commented Vanguard founder James France.

“Whisky lovers will be delighted to see whisky of this quality starting at prices under $100 for a 700ml bottle.”

In Australia, sales of local whisky more than doubled at 150 per cent CAGR from 2019 to 2020, according to the IWSR.

This compares with growth rates of 13.9 per cent each for Scotch whisky and American whiskey.

Morris Whisky will be available from June 2021 in leading liquor retailers with the Signature Whisky at $95RRP (ABV 40%) and Muscat Barrel Whisky at $140RRP (ABV46%).

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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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