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Archie Rose Distillery showcases the new face of Australian boutique spirits.

The Property Addict / Luxury Lifestyle

Dec 19 2016

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  EDITORIAL: Maggie Kelly   To speak with Will Edwards, founder of Sydney Distillery Archie Rose, is to speak with someone who loves what he does.

A former human capital consultant with Deloitte, Will left his corporate career in 2013 to take a punt on something that up until then only been a hobby - distilling his own spirits.

He travelled Australia on a journey to perfect the art of creating boutique spirits, mentored by some of the nation's best. He bought a warehouse, employed a team, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But what can be easily missed in the story of Archie Rose are the details: because Will Edwards doesn't just love the world of creating spirits, he lives it. And from the copper stills of his stunning Rosebery distillery to the hand-picked botanicals he selects to create their acclaimed gin, it really is the small things that make this brand seem set for the big time.

[caption id="attachment_4841" align="alignnone" width="478"]Founder and owner of Archie Rose, Will Edwards. Founder and owner of Archie Rose, Will Edwards.[/caption]

So. Why start a distillery? "It was always an idea of mine," says Will.

"I was always into spirits and I used to do a lot of home-brew and I had some miniature oak casks that I would mature things in. Some were good, some were terrible!"

After finishing university, Will took on a 'pretty standard corporate role' at Deloitte, but grew frustrated that, due to the nature of the industry, he rarely got to see the outcome of his work first hand. It was something that Will was determined to find in another career: the ability to create something, to see it through from inception to completion. To be able to hold something in the end and say " "I made this".

And whilst he had an inkling that his very own professional distillery was on the horizon, he wasn't quite sure where to begin.

"Whilst I had thought of setting up a distillery, there were very few in Australia at the time," says Will. "And there were none in an urban space - so it was hard to see how or if it was even possible."

So off he went to Tasmania.

[caption id="attachment_4839" align="alignnone" width="853"]The Archie Rose single malt casks are hand made by Adam 'Boney' Bones in Tasmania. The Archie Rose single malt casks are hand made by Adam 'Boney' Bones in Tasmania.[/caption]

The interior design of Archie Rose contains unmistakable traces of his time spent in the traditional whisky distilleries of Tasmania. The raw wood finishings, the custom-made copper stills, the brickwork and the exposed piping - it all feels old-worldly, in an authentic and comforting sort of way.

Indeed, the lessons Will learnt in Tasmania were centuries old, passed down from generation to generation, and were at risk of one day being lost.

"Tasmania is the heart of the Australian whisky industry," says Will. "I had to go down there and find out how it all works, and to find the craftsmen off the grid."

From understanding the nuanced flavours of smoking oak barrels, to the intricate art of whisky stills, Will gathered up the age-old information and took it back to Sydney.

  [caption id="attachment_4842" align="alignnone" width="997"]The gruff outside of Archie Rose hides it's glamorous industrial interior. The Archie Rose Distillery is in Sydney's inner city suburb of Rosebery.[/caption]

After a two year journey, Archie Rose opened its doors in 2015. It would be the first distillery to open in the city of Sydney for 160 years.

The building that now houses the Archie Rose distillery and bar in Sydney's inner-city suburb of Rosebery was once a factory that produced pokie machines. This was unbeknown to Will when he purchased the land, rather passed on from a local who had worked there many years ago.

Archie Rose gets quite a few of these sorts wandering in, curious to see what the fuss was about - and Will loves it. In fact, it was part of his whole design strategy.

He wanted to move away from the old, secret nature of distilleries and open out his brand into a people-friendly space open to the public.

[caption id="attachment_4843" align="alignnone" width="853"]The enormous copper 'still's in the Archie Rose Distillery are a major design feature. The enormous copper 'stills' in the Archie Rose Distillery are a major design feature.[/caption]

"It was so hard for me to see how spirits were made before - I personally was happy to jump into a car and drive for three hours or get on a plane to Tasmania, to go to the length to see how distilleries worked," says Will.

"But most normal people who just enjoy their spirits, aren't prepared to do that. So I really wanted to make it accessible for people to see how the spirits they enjoy are made."

Archie Rose therefore had to be close to the CBD, and have space for a public bar as well as the distilling areas. Despite having to accept higher rental costs and battle some seriously antiquated licensing and production regulations Will managed to create a space that feels modern, yet authentic.

[caption id="attachment_4844" align="alignnone" width="810"]The copper bar of Archie Rose. The copper bar of Archie Rose.[/caption]

You'll probably be surprised at just how old-fashioned and manual Archie Rose's distilling process really is. Whilst some overseas brands use machines so automated that they require little - if any! - human involvement, Archie Rose is putting the people back into the process.

The vats of malt and water are stirred by hand with large paddles, whilst grains are measured and poured by hand. Even the botanicals for the gin such as juniper, orange peel, and coriander are all bought from local producers and prepped by hand.

"It's definitely not how the process has to necessarily work," says Will. "The bigger distilleries around the world are all automated....but I was never willing to make a decision that would sacrifice quality."

[caption id="attachment_4845" align="alignnone" width="475"]The pared-back, industrial beauty of the Archie Rose Distillery is a modern take on the old-fashioned art. The pared-back, industrial beauty of the Archie Rose Distillery is a modern take on the old-fashioned art.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="1001"]The interior of the Archie Rose Distillery is open to the public for tours and workshops. The interior of the Archie Rose Distillery is open to the public for tours and workshops.[/caption]

Will is the first to admit that some of the choices they made may have made life a little harder, but are worth it for the unique result.

The copper stills, for example, react with sulfur-based compounds in the alcohol, essentially cleaning up the spirit. However, over time, this erodes the copper, meaning they will need to be replaced every five to ten years. He's not kidding when he says he won't make sacrifices for quality...

The Archie Rose venue is as much a public space as it is a private distillery. They offer guided tours, make-your-own gin sessions, and boast a gorgeous bar using the same American Oak used for the rye whisky casks, as well as a stunning copper countertop.

[caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="810"]Fun nights at the Archie Rose bar, using their house-made spirits. Fun nights at the Archie Rose bar, using their house-made spirits.[/caption]

"I always wanted to have a bar on site," says Will.

"It's a really nice bookend to production, because you can come to the one space and see the grain to glass production. You can see things from the bag of malt we use in the whisky production, right through to the bar and taste that neat or in a cocktail or however you like."

It must be incredibly satisfying for Will, the final realisation of his original dream to create something from the start to the finish.

And no doubt, holding a glass of Archie Rose whisky in hand and watching a bar full of people enjoying the fruits of your labour - well, it can't get much better than that.

  You can see more from Archie Rose on their website at: https://archierose.com.au/Â            

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