Whisky at scale: Morris Whisky shakes up Australian single malt

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A podcast for lovers of wine, beer, liquor (incl. whisky, whiskey, bourbon, gin, vodka, tequila etc) and cocktails, Drinks Adventures hosts wine makers, brewing and distilling experts, sommeliers, bartenders & more.

Whisky in Australia is highly fragmented, characterised by many small craft distilleries. Launched in 2021, Morris Whisky is one of few distilleries operating at a decent scale.

When winemaker John Casella acquired Morris of Rutherglen in 2016, his sole aim was to save an Australian icon from liquidation.

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But then he saw the original hybrid copper still and the many barrels maturing Morris’s renowned fortified wines and saw an opportunity to make a uniquely Australian single malt whisky.

Casella Family Brands set up a dedicated company, Copper and Grain Distilling, and lured Scotch whisky experts John McDougall and Dr. Jim Swan, to advise the business. Darren Peck, formerly of Diageo, was appointed head distiller.

From the start, John was determined to compete with foreign imports, by creating the best possible whisky at an accessible price tag.

In June 2021, Copper and Grain released two debut whiskies under the Morris label that have been extremely well-received, being awarded gold medals pre-release at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

You’ll hear two interviews within in this episode. The first is with John Casella and Michael Sergeant, who is head of strategy and innovation at Copper & Grain. I spoke separately to head distiller Darren Peck.

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