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By Dave Withers, Master DistillerISSUE #006 QUALITY AND CHARISMA | Education

Why we treat our barley differently

At Archie Rose we’ve been busy working on our aged whiskies. As with all our spirits, we source only the best ingredients to make them, and that includes the barley we’ve chosen for our whisky. The idea that some other distilleries run with, that ‘grain is grain is grain’ and that it doesn’t really matter what you’re using because it’s all about converting sugar to booze, isn’t quite right. If that were the case there’d be no difference between whisky, rum or vodka.

When beginning our whisky research and development at Archie Rose, we looked at whether the varieties of barley we were using made a difference to the overall flavour profile of our whisky, and if the way it was treated changed it too. After about 18 months of testing, we discovered each malt has a particular personality. On their own they can be a bit one-dimensional, but when we started to put a whole bunch of different barleys together they began to form a choir, each loud, pronounced, complex character singing in harmony.

Because of Australia’s climate, whisky matures quite quickly, so our aim was to add a lot of flavour to our product in a short period of time. We don’t want to say too much (you’ll have to wait and taste on this one!), but the flavour profile we’ve created with our mash bill has this raisin, chocolate, coffee almost Amaretto characteristic, with a slight grassiness as well. All of those characteristics are thanks to that combination of malts.

Some malts we’re using are roasted, and similar to the process of cooking a steak or roasting coffee beans, roasting brings out the rich, caramelised flavours in the product’s protein and sugars. You can’t match it. That being said, in doing this we do sacrifice a lot of alcohol in order to have that amazing flavour in there. It hasn’t been a decision made for the efficiency of making the whisky, that’s for sure. We deliberately make it knowing we’re losing alcohol (and thus, profit), but we know it’s worth it. We hope you will too.

Archie Rose Distilling Co’s first whisky release should be ready mid-year 2019. Watch this space for updates.