Isolation week four and counting…
Essential shopping has become a breath of fresh air, especially when you are limited to the four corners of your home. And this weeks drive to Costco brought a welcome change, a local beaut from a Sydney based distillery built in 2014, the first after over a century. The whisky strays away from the stereotypical definition and is a concoction made primarily of malted rye along with malted barley – behold, the Archie Rose Rye Malt!
Rye has been around for a while, more common with our bourbon brothren and beginning to make inroads into other geographies. Handling rye however is a different ballgame and part of it is caused due to the presence of betaglucanase. This chemical component causes Rye to become highly viscous and lumpy when mashed which makes it cumbersome to handle during the fermentation process. The thick consistency also makes it difficult to pass the fermented wort through their distill pots, with some distillers using filter beds to ease drainage.
The distillery malts their rye rather than use it as is; malting not only enhances the flavours but also allows enzymes to break the starch into sugars. The use of a lightly heated kiln further catalysis this breakdown of starch to sugars that aid the fermentation process.
Being a rye whisky, we do know that at least 51% of the grains used are rye. However, i’m unsure of the ratio used at the distillery but I do know that their malt is sourced from Germany while their barley is locally sourced – the distillery is transparent and isn’t shy of sharing details, do head to their website for more details. Aged in air dried virgin oak, the distillate is aged for a minimum of 36 months in the ‘maritime air of coastal Sydney.’
Eye: Chestnutoloroso sherry
Nose: Caramelized sugar with a waft of fresh wood infused with the scent of ‘old spice’ leaves. Sweet maple syrup, chocolate and peach accompanied by cloves and ginger peels.
Taste: Honey and caramel with the richness of dates, plums and stone fruits. Vanilla cake with powdered star anise and crushed cinnamon and a mild woody, moist nuance.
Finish : Caramel with a dollop of spice, warm and well rounded.
The Rye malt stays true to its genes, with spice being the real hero here. The whisky has a subtle maritime character that delves in the backdrop of a thick and yet lovely caramel flavour, enveloped and packaged with a spectrum of spice. The whisky is young no doubt but still feels more rounded and complex than whiskies older and mature.
It is an expensive whisky at AUD$120 and for sure no VFM tuple. But most of that blame can be attributed due to Australia’s relatively high spirit taxes. For the price there surely are better whiskies out there and the rye malt’s young age gives more reason to look away with the rich packaging not helping either. But the Archie Rose Rye does hold its ground well and for the experience it provides, it isn’t money completely wasted.