Earlier this year, Archie Rose announced that it would be experimenting with distillation of smoke tainted grapes, salvaged from fire affected wineries in the NSW Hunter Valley. 

Now, the distiller has revealed the success of the experiment and the upcoming release of one of the end products – the Hunter Valley Shiraz Spirit, the first in a three-part series to support the Hunter Valley wine community after the bushfires.

The new product is the second release under the Trials & Exceptions Series, a new range of small batch trials and innovations. Over 50 tonnes of smoke-tainted grapes went into the spirit, with the majority to be aged for release as a brandy in coming years.

The idea for the project came from wanting to help grape growers and winemakers suffering after the 2019/2020 bushfire crisis, and saw Archie Rose working with Tulloch Wines and First Creek Wines to identify eight small growers of the Pokolbin, Broke Fordwich and Upper Hunter sub regions who needed support.

Archie Rose Founder, Will Edwards said watching the fires so close to the brand’s home in Sydney made them think of unique ways that they could help.

As eau de vie is a spirit very few people have tried, we’re really excited to share this Hunter Valley Shiraz Spirit and looking forward to seeing how the smoke taint eventually plays into a brandy, currently laid down in casks to age for a minimum of two years,” Edwards said.

The spirit is influenced by the making of the wine to begin with, coordinated by Liz Silkman, Chief Winemaker at First Creek Wines.

Archie Rose’s Senior Distiller, Trynt Xavier, said: “We’ve really enjoyed working with Liz and the First Creek winemaking team on the winemaking process and we were really happy with how the wine turned out thanks to their efforts building the fermentation profile. They considered things like using a type of yeast that would accentuate the fruitiness of the wine, decreasing alcohol, and getting it off skins quite early to avoid too much smoke taint seeping in.”

In terms of taste, Archie Rose describe the 40 per cent ABV creation as an “adventurous spirit,” and their Head of Hospitality, Harriet Leigh, recommended how to serve it.

“It’s unusual at first in taste but excellent with the simple addition of fresh-pressed apple juice or even Coca-Cola and freshly squeezed lime juice, in our twist on a Batanga,” Leigh said.

We’ve also used the youthful eau de vie with vibrant, zingy flavours, in a version of a Paloma – The Pokolbin – the eau de vie effortlessly replacing tequila in the knock-out grapefruit highball.”

Just 1000 bottles of the spirit will be available from May 25 via the Archie Rose Bar in Sydney, as well as their website and some bottle shops, with a RRP of $99. There is also the opportunity to pre-purchase a bottle of the finished brandy, set to be released in future years.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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