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Is this the most Australian whisky ever made?

One Aussie distillery is using the country’s native Red Gum tree to smoke the malt for its whisky.

Archie Rose Distilling Co. is using the Red Gum tree, which is native to New South Wales (NSW) on the east coast of Australia, to smoke its single malt.

The company is also on a mission to source all seven of the malts for its whisky from within NSW.

The result – Red Gum Smoked Single Malt Whisky – is a “true Aussie single malt”, and perhaps the most authentic reflection of Australian provenance in a spirit that has been released to market.

The project is part of a series of native wood-smoked malt trials, in partnership with NSW-based company Voyager Craft Malt, to discover how Australian trees can lend their unique qualities to whisky.

“We had been using peated barley from the west coast of Scotland in our whiskies and dragging this grain halfway across the world to be used in an Australian whisky which just didn’t feel quite right both from a provenance and a sustainability perspective,” Archie Rose master distiller Dave Withers told Australian lifestyle publication Man of Many.

According to Withers, it’s “a hell of a lot of work” but the end result is a “distinctly Australian whisky not for the faint-hearted” with pronounced smoke, notes of bacon, a strong floral presence and a salty edge.

The Red Gum tree, a type of Eucalyptus, has smooth, cream-coloured bark with brilliant red wood underneath and grows along rivers and waterways in Australia. It can grow up to 45 metres high and live for up to 1,000 years. Vast red gum forests, including the Barmah-Millewa forest straddling the border of Victoria and New South Wales, can spread out to 65,000 hectares.

“When we started out, many of the unique malts we wanted to use in our whiskies were either not grown and malted in Australia or were not available in sufficient quantities,” said Archie Rose founder Will Edwards, who wants to improve sustainability by not shipping in foreign malt from around the world.

The new Red Gum Smoked Single Malt Whisky is available in Australia for AUS$199 and was launched via a pre-release ballot that closed on 11 February.

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