Archie Rose is a craft spirits distillery and bar based in Roseberry, Sydney. They make award-winning gin, vodka, limited release spirits, and recently, hand sanitiser – producing over 100,000 bottles from distillery wastage, delivering them to Australians, and providing employment to 27 workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
They also generously donated to The Happy Pack, Happy Mag’s own response to how the pandemic had impacted Sydney’s arts scene. With sustainability, community, and innovation at their core, it’s clear that Archie Rose are one of the country’s most exciting and progressive liquor makers.
To find out a little more about how Archie Rose works behind the scenes we spoke to Victoria Tulloch, the company’s head of marketing.
Meet Archie Rose Distilling Co., one of Australia’s most exciting, sustainable, and innovative craft spirits companies.
HAPPY: Firstly, how are things going COVID-wise? Is the distillery expected to open anytime soon?
VICTORIA: It’s been a strange and challenging time which meant we had to close our bar but we were fortunate enough to have the required federal licences, dangerous goods approvals, access to raw materials and expertise, to switch from producing whisky, gin, and vodka to hand sanitiser – we made and sold close to 100,000 bottles throughout the pandemic. Now that restrictions are starting to ease, we’re really excited that we’ll be re-opening the Archie Rose Bar on 3 June – it will be a little different though in keeping in line with government mandates.
We’ll be selling two-hour sessions for $30. This cost is credit to use at the bar, table service, a $10 discount to purchase a 700ml Archie Rose spirit or hand filled cocktail, and of course social distancing, with a maximum of 14 people per sitting. We’re also back into full swing in terms of spirits production and we’ve got some exciting releases around the corner. The team is also busy commissioning our new distillery at Banksmeadow.
HAPPY: The pandemic has spelt chaos for hospitality and liquor businesses everywhere – is there anything you think your industry will take away from this as a more permanent lesson?
VICTORIA: Innovation is already one of our core business values and the thing that prepared us as a team to be able to move very quickly from producing spirits to sanitiser and something that will continue to be vital as we and others adapt to the new market conditions. Having a variety of customer and sales channels has also been of tremendous benefit to us during this time – having for instance a very strong database and e-commerce functionality meant we could immediately support the sell through of tens of thousands of hand sanitiser and bottles of spirits during this period and will as always continue to be something we invest in.
We were also able to very quickly set up the Archie Rose Bar as a cellar door which has again provided income to our bar team and another high quality bottle shop for the local Rosebery community, and we’ll now be looking at how we can sustain the good work we’ve done here over the last few months. And finally, more than ever, being an Australian producer who prioritises buying and hero-ing local ingredients is something we will continue both to provide economic support for growers and producers – and because people more than ever are likely to be keen to buy Australian, we hope others do also.
HAPPY: The Hunter Valley Spirit blew us away as an idea. Can you talk about how that came to fruition?
VICTORIA: With a strong ethos around supporting local producers and growers, a penchant for innovative collaborations, along with team members whose families were impacted by the Hunter Valley harvest write-off in January, this initiative was conceived to assist growers who suffered significant crop and income write-off as a result of bushfire smoke-taint. It includes the support of fourth generation Tulloch Wines along with winemakers, First Creek Wines who together with the Archie Rose team worked to identify eight smaller growers in the Pokolbin, Broke Fordwich, and Upper Hunter sub-regions of the Hunter Valley who needed assistance in view of almost total crop write-off. This innovative eau de vie is the first example of Archie Rose’s experimentation with wine made from 50 plus tonnes of smoke-tainted Hunter Valley 2020 shiraz and cabernet sauvignon grapes with the majority of spirit to be aged for release as a brandy in coming years.
HAPPY: Sustainability is obviously a massive focus. Where does that ethos come from within the business?
VICTORIA: Sustainability has always been a key focus within the business since its inception. This can be seen throughout the various facets of Archie Rose including the sourcing of ingredients for our spirits – an example is the recently launched Hunter Valley Shiraz Spirit. We have learnt that amazing flavours can come from imperfect looking materials which we now consider when sourcing ingredients. Where possible, we strive to work closely with producers and wholesalers who focus on sustainability and understand the impact of their growing, harvesting and processing methods, rather than working with ingredients that are commoditised en masse. We also adopt a range of recycling and plastic minimisation techniques at the Archie Rose Bar and events.
HAPPY: Are there any other projects coming up you’re excited about? Ones you can talk about, of course.
VICTORIA: We’re super excited about the release of our Single Malt Whisky later this year. At Archie Rose, we believe malt provides a potent and vital contribution to the final flavour profile of our whisky. Our Single Malt Whisky is distinctly crafted to highlight six malts, each with a unique profile and character. Our vision for whisky has always been to speak of our experience as Australians. We want to craft a distinct, charming and flavoursome spirit which showcases the regional character of the malts it is made up of, complemented by great quality oak. We’ve spent an enormous amount of time in research and development, looking at how we can create a rich and engaging, complex yet affordable whisky. And we believe we’ve made something really special.
HAPPY: Lastly, a simple one. For someone who knows absolutely nothing about Archie Rose, what’s an introductory drop you’d recommend?
VICTORIA: Gin would be a great start! We have two specially crafted, award winning gins, Archie Rose Signature Dry and Archie Rose Distiller’s Strength – both featuring a distinctive selection of traditional and native botanicals including blood lime, lemon myrtle, and distilled honey direct from our local beehives. Both these gins are perfect in a Gin Spritz or classic Negroni. We’d also recommend visiting the Archie Rose Bar to sample one of our spirits flights which showcase a range of our spirits.
Find out more about Archie Rose Distilling Co. on their website.