By Sacha Delfosse
A new native Australian-style vermouth, Regal Rogue, has hit the market made using wine from the Hunter Valley and locally sourced ingredients.
Regal Rogue was a project three years in the making, developed by Yakusan’s Mark Ward, in conjunction with Lisa McGuigan Wines, which supplies the wine base and will also handle distribution for the range.
The first release is an aromatic bianco, which is floral, citrusy and smooth on the palate, and three more varietals – rosetta, rosso and dry – will be launched by the end of the year.
Ward explained that although other Australian companies have made French and Italian vermouths in the past, Regal Rogue is challenging the category by being an Australian-style vermouth made using native Australian ingredients such as finger limes and bush lemons, as well as wine from the Hunter Valley, which he believes is a first.
"We are taking an amazing wine base, and bringing essential Australian ingredients to create a premium quality product," Ward said.
It is available in a 500ml bottle, because as Ward notes, vermouth is a wine-based product that once opened deteriorates after a certain period of time. By having it in a smaller bottle wastage can be reduced, while a blank date stamp has be included on the label for venues to write down when it was opened.
"There is some education to do on how to store it because a lot of venues keep vermouth on their back bar and not in the fridge," Ward said.
"Once it’s opened, after three or four weeks its profile will start to change."
A small batch of hand-wrapped bottles has been initially produced, which will be rolled out into selected venues for the first three months, and supported by training and tastings for staff.
"I’ll be taking them through the process that you need to take consumers through," Ward said.
The focus is to get bars to use it in cocktails, and a range of signature cocktails has been created around the vermouth. Ward is also working with restaurants to encourage them to use Regal Rogue in their dishes and also serve it over ice as an aperitif.
"We made it on the basis for it to be used in cocktails but it can still be enjoyed as a standalone product. Using it for cooking creates another consumption opportunity."
"It’s a small batch product with a lot of care behind it and a good wine in it."