Australia’s distillery culture has grown so substantially over the years. Not only do we produce an enormous range of high quality spirits and craft beers — but the collaborations are absolutely killer, even the ones completely out of left field. So for our latest Aussie Snacktaku, that’s what I’m trying: the unholy matrimony of coffee and single malt whisky.
They’re two things Australia absolutely adores. And it makes sense that Archie Rose would try to blend the two in a proper spirit — not a liqueur — given some of their other creations. Archie Rose has been selling single malts for a few years, although it’s one of the more expensive local spirits.
Their collaboration with Melbourne coffee brewer ST. ALi, titled Blasphemy, is easier to get into. At $89 for a 40% ABV 700mL bottle, it’s the most affordable way to get a taste of an Archie Rose single malt. The coffee itself is a combination of ST. ALi’s Orthodox house and Wide Awake espresso blends, so understandably it’s best drunk neat or with a bit of ice.
I’ve tried a few different options for science, including shaken martini-style or topped with mineral water like a highball. But as someone who enjoys coffee frequently, and to best appreciate the notes of what’s involved, sipping neat or on ice is the way to go.
Archie Rose’s single malt has always been more on the smooth side, which is natural given it’s a relatively young whisky — legally, whiskies in Australia only need to be aged for at least two years. Adding the coffee brings that down further to make Blasphemy very easy to drink, although there’s a hint of bitterness on the backend that gives the whole drink a taste reminiscent of a Negroni. (It’s especially well suited for use in negronis or espresso martinis, incidentally.)
In one sense, it doesn’t really taste like a whisky — but it also doesn’t have the same degree of sweetness or viscosity that you would expect from a liquor. There’s also a degree of lightness that’s refreshing, something you’d ordinarily associate with a spirit, not a single malt. You’ll get notes of plum jam, stewed apples, hazelnut, dark chocolate and berries, especially when enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in a boulevardier.
In an interview with Broadsheet, Archie Rose explained that Blasphemy was made by adding ST. ALi’s coffee into the distilling process where water would be used.
“When [whisky] comes out of the cask, it will be somewhere in the 60 percent alcohol range,” Will Edwards, Archie Rose’s founder, told Broadsheet. “We’ll break that down, usually with reverse osmosis-filtered water to whatever the bottling strength is. And what we did was substitute coffee into the breakdown process.”
The only issue really depends on how stringent you are on your single malts remaining single. If you can live with the coffee whisky blend, Blasphemy’s a nice addition to the top shelf. It’s available through the Archie Rose and ST. ALi websites for $89.