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Brief Published: 6 Jul 2020

Smoke-Tainted Spirit Made from Bushfire Grapes

Archie Rose

As an unfortunate consequence of the 2019/20 Australian bushfires, many vineyards suffered smoke damage to their grapes, rendering them unsuitable for wine production. To rescue some of this damaged fruit, and support these vineyards, Sydney distillery Archie Rose has produced a ‘smoky’ spirit made with the spoiled grapes.

The distillery, in collaboration with New South Wales wineries Tulloch Wines and First Creek Wines, has taken 50 tonnes of smoke-tainted Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, sourced from eight small growers around the Pokolbin wine region, and produced a new category of small-batch spirit.

The Hunter Shiraz Spirit has a creamy, tropical taste with an edge of smokiness, while the producers suggest it can be used in place of tequila in cocktails or be paired with mixers such as apple juice or coke with a squeeze of lime.

One thousand bottles of the limited-edition spirit went on sale at the end of May 2020 at AU$99 ($68) per bottle. Much of the spirit, however, has been reserved to be aged as brandy, and will go on sale in a few years’ time.

With climate change increasing the risk of further devastating wildfires and crop disturbances across the world in years to come, this kind of waste-not product development will become increasingly vital for food brands to consider.

This new drink is also exciting as it brings hyper-locality into the realm of post-category spirits (read Spirits Makers Defy Conventional Categories). As the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the volatility of supply chains, food and beverage producers should look at ingredients closer to home for new product innovation. 

Read The Post-Vegan Opportunity for more on how brands are creating climate-sensitive food and beverage products, whilst our Adapting to a Changing Climate series takes a wider industry lens to sustainable product development.