By Andy Young
The St Agnes Distillery in Renmark, South Australia has distilled what it claims to be the Riverland’s first legal whisky.
Known for the super-premium XO brandies it has been producing for over 90 years, St Agnes has evolved its crafting of aged spirits with the small batch whisky project.
"Brandy takes time, patience and craft and we see similarities with whisky. Our aim is to produce a super-premium single malt whisky that has character and vibrancy. A whisky that shows the benefits of ageing in small oak and speaks to the history of our historic barrel halls,” said Richard Angove of the Angove Family Winemakers, which owns and operates St Agnes.
"We worked with a South Australian iconic beer producer – Coopers Brewery, to make a classic single malt beer base. Classic Scottish methods were used with a touch of our unique Australian brandy making expertise. The whisky was double distilled in Copper Pot #1 in our 100-year-old distillery.”
The fresh whisky spirit will immediately be transferred to a careful selection of small oak barrels where it will rest, quietly maturing and transforming in to distinctive single malt whisky.
Master Distiller Ben Horley added: “We will be assessing the whisky regularly but it will be a number of years before we will see the release. Oak maturation takes time and patience and we are lucky that we have these.”
St Agnes has been part of the Angove Family Winemakers since Dr William Angove established the distillery in 1910 and has been producing Australian brandy since 1925, with five generations of the Angove family and five Master Distillers.