Artisan Australian spirits are staking their place in the world

Artisan Australian spirits are staking their place in the world

The rise of craft spirits

Text: Yeong Sassall

Image: Archie Rose

When I arrived in Australia in 2002 it was a backpacker’s delight with beer by the jug, food in large portions and hostels in every hidden corner of the country

Back then, the only glass of craft beer you could enjoy was at a country homestead - most likely the farmer's secret-recipe home brew, which in many cases, should've been taken in very small doses!

As craft beer in Australia stands today, we have tons of success stories. Alongside American brands, Aussie alcohol brands have played a huge part in breaking the mould with craft beer - think: Little Creatures or James Squire. Even the often-forgotten Tasmania is quickly becoming one of the new world authorities on whisky with Lark Distillery and Nant.

While Australia has its own emerging spirits scene with vodka (666 Pure), gin (Westwinds, Four Pillars), rum (Bundaberg, Hoochery), liqueurs (Tambourine Mountain) and whisky, a new and exciting development is set to really up the ante.

Archie rose

For the first time since 1853, Sydney is about to welcome its first distillery. Thanks to the vision of Will Edwards, the Archie Rose distillery will be a bar and development centre for anyone with a vision to create something liquid. With a fit-out designed by Caroline Choker and Vince Alafaci of ACME & Co, it's set to really bring the Sydney drinks scene to life. Here, I chat to Will about the Archie Rose story.

What was your vision for opening the Archie Rose distillery? 

We wanted to reinvigorate an industry that Sydney hasn't seen for over 160 years, whilst opening our doors to the public and offering an insight into the process behind distilling handmade spirits. It also helps having a bar onsite serving up damn fine cocktails!

The Archie Rose team

How did Archie Rose come about?

I've always had a passion for spirits. I used to do a bit of home brew, make some pretty terrible spirit-based infusions and play around with oak maturation, but it always remained a side hobby.

In 2013, I headed to NYC for a break and to check out some distilleries that had opened up in Brooklyn and its surrounding areas. After seeing their setup and hearing their stories, I couldn't figure out why no one had started up a distillery in Sydney since the mid 1800s. Like NYC, we have a unique history of distillation, awesome craft brewers, an incredible bar scene and people who are genuinely interested in where their food and drinks come from.

What we really want to do Archie Rose is open our doors and let people experience what goes into producing beautiful spirits. We don't want to be like the secretive distilleries of old - we'll be running tours, tastings and even gin blending sessions.

Archie Rose is located at 61 Mentmore Ave, Rosebery (enter via 85 Dunning St), NSW. For more info, visit

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