Morris enters the Australian whisky market

Morris enters the Australian whisky market

Posted on June 8, 2021, Drinks Digest


Morris is entering the Australian whisky market with the launch of two premium whiskies in June 2021: Morris Australian Single Malt Signature Whisky and Australian Single Malt Muscat Barrel Whisky.

The launch comes at a time when both the Australian and international markets are experiencing continued growth.  In Australia, sales of local whisky more than doubled from 2019 to 2020, growing at 150% according to the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis (May 2021). It’s a considerably higher growth rate than seen by Scotch whisky at 13.9% and US whiskey, also at 13.9%.

The growth of Australian whisky consumption is expected to continue with the IWSR predicting a 14.5% growth rate from 2020 – 2025 for Australian produced whisky in the $80 – $149.99 price range, well above the 8.4% growth rate predicted for Scotch whisky.

The initial focus is to establish Morris in the Australian whisky market before exploring opportunities in international markets such the US and the UK, with the aim of raising the profile of premium Australian spirits, in particular Australian whisky. Morris is making a long-term play to develop the Australian single malt whisky category with further innovation in the pipeline leveraging access to an unrivalled collection of fortified wine barrels, some of which are more than 100 years old.

Crafted at the world-renowned Morris of Rutherglen, awarded the International Fortified Wine Producer of the Year by the IWSC in 2020, Morris Australian Single Malt Whiskies are made from 100% local ingredients then finished in award-winning Morris fortified wine barrels producing an extraordinary and unique flavour. These barrels have been used for aging some of the most distinctive and celebrated fortified wines in the world.

Since 1859, the Morris family have been making award-winning fortified wines spanning over six generations and are regarded as one the best fortified wine producers in the world.At the heart of the whisky distillation process is the hybrid copper pot and column still. This is the original still installed at the Morris site in the early 1930s, when it was used for producing base spirits for Morris fortified wines. It has been meticulously restored and in recognition of its awakening after decades of slumber, the still has been named Aurora, a nod to the princess in Sleeping Beauty.

A team of highly regarded whisky experts has come together with the Morris family to craft this distinct style of Australian single malt whisky. Since 2016, the team has been working with John McDougall, one of the world’s most renowned whisky makers with previous experience with leading producers including Balvenie, Laphroaig and Springbank. He now consultants exclusively to Morris in Australia as Master Distiller.

The late Dr Jim Swan, who was also a key member of the original Morris whisky team, is described as the ‘Einstein of whisky’ for his technical expertise and has extensive experience working with renowned brands including Kilchoman, Kavalan and Bowmore. Both Scotsmen were integral to designing a unique barrel maturation program, including barrel selection and providing the team with a special and unique barrel toasting regime.

Darren Peck (above, ex-Diageo) has been appointed as Morris Head Distiller and has worked under the tutelage of McDougall for the last five years to craft the whisky.

“We are creating a unique Morris Whisky style that speaks to our home in Rutherglen,” said Peck. “Made with Australian barley malted at the family brewery and pure, filtered water from the Snowy Mountains, Morris Whisky reflects not only the world-class fortified barrels but also its regional Victorian provenance.

“As part of the process, we apply double distillation through our hybrid copper pot and column still and mature in a combination of French and American oak barrels sourced from family-owned wineries in the Barossa and Coonawarra regions. 

“These barrels are all prepared by hand at our private cooperage to a specific method, which imparts the unique Morris of Rutherglen flavour profile. Coupled with the local climate of hot summer days and cool nights, these conditions are perfect for ageing and creating the unique and distinctive Morris Whisky taste.”

Vanguard Luxury Brands has been appointed the exclusive Australian distributor of Morris Whisky, securing ranging in premium bars, retailers and restaurants across the country, commencing in June 2021.

“We’re thrilled to work with the Morris team on the launch of Morris Whisky. It’s an outstanding Australian product that ties together the heritage of the world’s best fortified wine producers and the current demand for premium Australian spirits,” says James France, Founder and Director of Vanguard Luxury Spirits. 

“Morris whiskies provide an unbeatable combination of provenance and quality at an affordable price – something unseen thus far in the industry here.  Whisky lovers will be delighted to see whisky of this quality starting at prices under $100 for a 700ml bottle.”