The two single malts are finished in vintage fortified and premium wine barrels. The distillery describes the former as possessing notes from macerated cherry to biscuit and cocoa, and the latter as bursting with molasses and dark fruits.
Morris Whisky is the result of the decades-long friendship of two leaders in the Australian wine industry, the Casella and Morris families.
In 1859, the Morris Family began producing wine, and six generations later, the original still used for its fortified wines is back in use as a result of the new venture into the world of whisky.
John Casella had long harboured a passion for single malt — in 2016, when the opportunity arose to purchase Morris of Rutherglen with its unique hybrid copper pot still, Casella founded Copper & Grain Distilling Co. and the Rutherglen Distillery, based in a small town north east of Melbourne and named after the Scottish town of Rutherglen, and now home to Morris Whisky.
At the heart of Rutherglen Distillery is the original 1930s hybrid copper pot and column still, named Aurora after the princess in Sleeping Beauty as it lay dormant for so many years.
Since the start of the production process in 2016, the team has been working with John McDougall, who previously worked with The Balvenie, Laphroaig and Springbank. He now consults exclusively with Morris as master distiller.
The late Dr Jim Swan, described as the ‘Einstein of whisky’, was a key member of the original Morris Whisky team. Both he and McDougall were integral to designing a unique barrel selection, toasting and maturation programme.
Darren Peck (ex-Diageo) has been appointed as Morris head distiller and has worked under the tutelage of McDougall for the last five years. The first barrels were laid down in 2017 and will each have at least three years maturation.
Peck explained: “The production of Morris Whisky has been designed to be as authentic and local as possible, with every part of the process carried out in-house. The ingredients include locally grown Australian barley and pure filtered water from the Snowy Mountains, Australia’s tallest mountain range located in southern New South Wales. The liquid is matured in a combination of French and American oak barrels sourced from family-owned wineries in the Barossa and Coonawarra regions. The Rutherglen climate of hot days and cool nights, lends itself extremely well to aging the whisky.”
Copper & Grain Distilling Co. has appointed Nick Gillett and his team at Mangrove UK to manage all aspects of distribution in the UK.
Michael Sergeant, head of strategy at Copper & Grain, said: “We are really excited to partner with Mangrove to make our foray into the UK market with Morris Whisky. We know Mangrove will be an excellent extension of our team due to their extensive experience in premium spirits coupled with an enviable distribution network. Together we look forward to bringing these two premium, but accessibly priced, Australian Single Malts to whisky drinkers.”
Nick Gillett, managing director at Mangrove UK, added: “The effect of climate and territory in whisky continues to be something which adds to the whisky conversation alongside traditional variables of grain type, ageing and cask finishing; we think Morris is the perfect blend of the old and new world and look forward to enjoying a glass with our customers soon.”