ArchieMite Buttered Toast Spirit is the bizarre new spirit you need to drink

It's arguably Australia's most iconic snack, and now Sydney distiller Archie Rose has made it possible for you to enjoy in spirit form.

ArchieMite Buttered Toast Spirit was made from a combination of individually distilled ingredients including 25kg of freshly churned Pepe Saya Butter, 15kg of toasted Sonoma sourdough toast and a selection of blended yeast-extract spreads ("mites").

Starts in laughter

"It started out as a joke," says Archie Rose master distiller Dave Withers.

The project began in earnest when Withers felt strangely compelled to buy some jars of yeasty goodness and run them through the still at Archie Rose in Sydney. As you do.

"Most distillers go through a phase that I describe as the 'can we distill that?' phase," he explains.

"We've distilled some pretty mental things in the past, some of which didn't work and some of which have been amazing.

"Years ago we distilled red miso paste. On paper you would never think that would work, but it was sensational."

Taste test prevails

Not all of the experiments have seen the light of day.

"We've distilled a meat pie. I quite like it but it's been a little polarising," says Withers.

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However, the results from the mite distillation experiment were better than expected.

"We were sharing it around and everyone quite liked it. We ended up saying, 'well maybe we should make this a product'," says Withers.

"We then started this crazy journey of distilling all of the mites that we could get and seeing what worked best."

Mite-y power

Likely for legal reasons, Withers is not at liberty to reveal the particular mites in question. Was it Vegemite or something far more sinister, like Marmite?

"I can't name names unfortunately, but if it could be bought in Australia then it was run through the still," says Withers.

"There were so many permutations, we must have done in excess of 30 different pilot runs of mites using different treatments and different distillation methods.

"Each one gave a different sort of character. Some of them were just horrific. There was one that smelt of bile, needless to say it didn't make the grade."

Get that bread

Realising that no-one eats mite spreads unaccompanied, the Archie Rose team approached fellow Sydney brands Sonoma and Pepe Saya to see if they would indulge their quest to create the quintessentially Australian buttered toast spirit.

"They were just so accommodating, we did so many different trials with them," says Withers.

The resulting product, ArchieMite, is the latest oddball creation from an Australian craft distiller.

A road well travelled

It follows other pioneering spirits such as Kissing A Stranger, a brandy distilled at Poor Tom's Distillery in Sydney using wine tasters' backwash salvaged from spit buckets at the now defunct Rootstock wine festival.

That idea was conceived by Peter Bignell of Belgrove Distillery in Tasmania, who has since brought us Wholly Shit, a 57.8 per cent ABV rye whisky smoked with burning sheep's manure.

"I think it shows that the Australian industry is willing to take risks, and really authentic risks," says Withers.

"They're not just gimmicks, some of them are really based on the heart and soul of what it is to be a farmer, or what it is to use waste products.

"For this one we wanted that heart and soul to be about Australiana and our experience of being an Australian distiller."

Mixology at its best

Master distiller at London's Sipsmith Distillery, Jared Brown, is fond of experimenting with production techniques and unconventional ingredients.

Among his most outrageous concoctions was venison-smoked gin, though that particular product was never released under the Sipsmith banner, for Brown has a golden rule that guides his commercial releases.

"There is a simple question that I ask; no matter how interesting the idea, how historic the concept, or how trendsetting," he explains.

"You've got to answer the question, is it good? Could someone who has no idea what it is sit down and have three of them in a bar?

"Or will they need a load of explanation up front to have one, and then they'll say, 'oh that was interesting, can I have a beer?'"

A polarising drink

ArchieMite may not meet every aspect of Brown's personal criteria, and it's doubtful whether it will unseat gin or vodka as Australians' preferred white spirit.

Its yeasty aroma will be polarising for consumers, much like a certain breakfast spread I could mention.

But you have to admire the Archie Rose distillers' achievement of expressing the distinctive attributes of all three ingredients in harmony – the flavour profile is exactly as Withers describes.

"On the nose, it's quite 'mitey' with biscuity toast and butteriness in the background," he says.

"But when you taste it, it's much rounder and creamier, which is the butter taking over.

"That resolves into more of that toast character, and then finally you finish up with some of that mite."

If you enjoy vegemite on toast, you'll likely enjoy the weirdness that is ArchieMite. With an RRP of $79, it's available direct from Archie Rose and selected independent bottle shops.

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