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The Beauty of a Single Cask

As we approach ten years of making the highest quality Australian whisky, we’re proud to announce the launch of our Single Cask Whisky Series on 10 June at the Archie Rose Cellar Door and online on 11 June. Representing the pinnacle of our whisky-making endeavours, this series reveals the extraordinary beauty of our most distinguished individual barrels of whisky. Each whisky from this series has been hand-selected by our distillery team who have set out to find the most exceptional casks from the 35,000 casks in our warehouse.

What is it that makes single cask whiskies so special? For dedicated whisky drinkers, the appeal of single cask whiskies is the idea of always being able to try something in its unadulterated form, and our first release in our Single Cask Whisky Series does just that.

Like all successful products, consistency is key for most commercially produced whiskies. A bottle of brand-name whisky should taste the same whether you buy it at a shop near home, at a duty-free on the other side of the world, or right from the source at the distillery. To achieve this, most distilleries will make large batches of whisky incorporating hundreds or thousands of casks at a time, mixing various cask styles and ages to achieve a balanced and consistent flavour profile from batch to batch.

One way of thinking of single casks is like voices in a choir. Some sopranos, altos, and tenors sing together to produce a harmonious melody. But every once in a while, someone comes along with such a powerful individual voice that they just have to sing solo. It’s the same with casks of whisky. Sometimes, we find one so interesting and complex that it would be a waste to mix it in with other casks. That’s what our single cask whiskies are all about: finding the individual talents among our whiskies and letting them take the spotlight.

Archie Rose founder Will Edwards explains, "Respect for ingredients has always been at the heart of what we do, and these single-cask whiskies are the purest expression of those ingredients. Especially in terms of the painstaking work we put into selecting the best oak in which to mature our whiskies, each cask has a unique story, and a unique flavour profile. It's an amazing thing to come across a cask and say, "This. This one right here. That's the essence of what we're trying to achieve." It's a big step for us to be releasing these single casks as it represents a level of maturity for our whiskies, and the company as a whole, that we've been working towards for a decade."

At Archie Rose, identifying our brilliant casks involves the laborious task of tasting them — tough job, right? Our distilling and blending teams constantly evaluate the 35,000 casks in our warehouse to decide their fate: should they harmonise in the choir or shine in a solo show? This process begins with our sensory team, who identify which casks and spirit types are needed for an upcoming release and creates a sampling list. Given the sheer number of casks onsite, accessing specific ones is no mean feat. The cellar team locates the casks, retrieves them from the stacks with a forklift, takes a sample, and places them back again.

The samples are then sent to the sensory team who will do what we call “screening” when the team assesses the quality of the samples, identifying the ones that have reached maturity and allocating them to various releases. For every single Archie Rose release, the team might screen over a thousand samples.

Then, in some rare cases, a specific cask sample might offer something really special and unique. A single cask that stands out from the pack. “We’re always on the lookout for optimal maturity, integration and pure expression of Archie Rose spirit,” says Master Distiller Dave Withers. “These casks are set aside, and once a week, each member of the sensory team will bring those special samples they have unearthed to the rest of the group. If there is consensus about a sample, then it will make the cut for our single cask programme.”

Often, a truly great candidate for a single cask is one that you can spot straight away. There is a certain finesse that should come across in that first impression. It should have charm and charisma right from the start, like love at first sight. If the cask has positive aspects but others that are not as strong, we will never release it as a single cask. Those might be an excellent element of a bigger batch where their positive attributes can be made to shine and elevate the positive aspects of other casks. In a way, that is why single casks are so exceptional. They must have poise, balance, intensity, and complexity and be able to stand alone as an outstanding whisky with no help from any other liquid.

“There is a certain magic to single casks,” Dave says. “Any two casks can be filled with the same liquid on the same day and be of the same cask type, but after years of maturation, the spirit will always be different. The magic of single casks is when you find those rare examples where everything comes together perfectly. It’s an intersection of environment, wood and spirit which forges something beautiful and mysterious.”

We’re releasing these single casks at natural cask strength, completely uncut and unblended, so they appear to you exactly like they do to the blending team. Bold yet nuanced, these whiskies offer a quintessentially Archie Rose experience. On the one hand, the whisky itself needs to showcase depth, complexity, power and character, and on the other, it provides an opportunity to share a focused vision of our house style. It takes a truly remarkable cask to be able to stand on its own and have all of the characteristics we strive for in a single vessel, and we couldn’t be more excited to share these exceptional whiskies with you.

This limited release of only 361 bottles will be launching at the Archie Rose Cellar Door in Rosebery on 10 June and online on 11 June.

Single Cask Whisky Series

Single Cask Whisky Series

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