From our hands to yours; Full Circle
An extraordinary collaboration of talented craftspeople, all motivated by a shared vision to create a never-to-be-repeated whisky experience.
Full Circle Co-Founder
Kari Allen thinks of herself as a cartographer. A marketer by background, her uncanny ability to map concepts into a future reality means that she is now better described as an entrepreneur.
Alongside collaborator Rose Kentish, Kari co-founded The Sparkke Change Beverage Company in 2016. The pair were determined to leverage Australia’s passion for the pub to advance causes that mattered to them and to their community.
Sparkke’s craft beer packaging throws a spotlight onto issues like sexual consent, climate change and Australia’s treatment of refugees. Kari’s leadership of the brand’s identity helps to drive the progressive ethos further, deep into the business’ operations – with inclusive employment practices and a goal to be entirely carbon neutral by 2025.
These achievements, though, have not distracted Kari from the long-term vision Sparkke relentlessly pursues. Spirits have always been part of their plan – a chance to push further into the male-dominated alcohol industry; to demonstrate that high-end craft products, sustainable methods and profitability are not mutually exclusive.
When COVID-19 descended in 2020, and Australia’s hospitality industry ground to a halt, the plan accelerated.
Looking out at rows of kegs destined for venues across Australia, now sitting dormant and in imminent danger of aging past their prime, Kari did not see catastrophe.
She was confident that the woman she works alongside would have a solution.
Full Circle Co-Founder, Distiller
Rose Kentish is focussed on possibilities, not obstacles.
An award-winning winemaker who has sought out knowledge from around the world, Rose is captivated by the potential that lies in transformation. Increasingly, she’s agnostic about her medium – distilling spirits on the island of Corsica, bringing the art of fermentation to Sparkke’s brewing team or studying perfumery in France; it's all taken in stride as she continues her decades long winemaking trade.
When Sparkke’s operations flagged during the early months of COVID-19, Rose refused to follow the example of breweries around the world. Instead of pouring beer down the drain, she began a small distilling pilot. At the company’s most challenging moment she was determined to conjure something innovative and delicious.
Using her small copper still, Rose made an Amaro from Sparkke’s Cider. Out of the Hard Lemonade, she pulled a Lemon Flower Gin. With Sparkke’s all-natural Pale Ale, she leaned heavily on her maker’s instinct to meet a much greater challenge.
Flavours of citrus, fresh cut hay, sweet nectar and a subtle toastiness point to the once-in-a-lifetime whisky.
Whisky creation starts with grain that is malted, mashed and fermented to create a beer wash. The wash is distilled into a spirit known as new make, which must age in barrel for at least two years to earn the title of whisky. A beer wash is akin to beer, but not the same. A finished beer is a more refined, complete beverage – something with carefully calibrated flavour. Beer wash is a raw material, with malt and yeast chosen to create a unique whisky.
For her first ever whisky, Rose used Sparkke’s Pale Ale in place of a beer wash. Distilling the hop-heavy brew and incorporating meticulous additions of Pilsner and an IPA, she realised this was a rare opportunity – one that few whisky makers have the chance to embrace.
From her first taste of the new make as it poured off the still, Rose knew the experiment was a success. With excitement, she shared samples for nosing with some of the world’s top distillers in Scotland; the feedback was good. Very good.
After maturing in barrel for a month, the spirit revealed itself further – flavours of citrus, fresh cut hay, sweet nectar and a subtle toastiness point to the once-in-a-lifetime whisky it is destined to become.
Kari understood the significance of what Rose had created - both felt its momentum pushing them into their next chapter. This needed to be shared. But two or three years, while the spirit aged, would be too long to wait.
Together they recognised the opportunity to create an immersive Full Circle experience revealing the traditional and exclusive world of whisky. With contemporary rituals, guided tastings led by Rose, invitations to learn from other experts - whisky bankers to mixologists - this journey brings an added dimension to New World whisky.
The master cooper has been restoring barrels for some of the world’s best winemakers and distillers for more than four decades.
Master cooper, Barossa Valley
Andy Young transforms time. With fire and oak, he creates vessels that will form a partnership with Rose’s new make as it ages into whisky.
The master cooper has been restoring barrels for some of the world’s best winemakers and distillers for more than four decades. Andy’s workshop remains traditional. His barrels are still manually stripped back, repaired or resized. In consultation with his customers, talented makers, barrels are then fire treated to achieve distiller-specific levels of toasting. There is great skill in this process and his hands hold tools from the early 1900s; they’re worn in sympathetic forms, fitting closely against his skin.
Rose and Andy select the barrels for this whisky one by one – making careful decisions influenced by the knowledge of the provenance of each barrel. They choose barrels from around the world that once contained Bourbon, Apera or Muscat. Size, levels of toasting and the characteristics each selection will contribute to the future whisky are also fully considered.
Soon, the new make will be put into the specially prepared oak, left to mature undisturbed. With every passing month, as the spirit transforms, its monetary value will rise. Whisky is often treated as an investment, as much as a pleasure to be enjoyed in glass. Sometimes called whisky banking, investors buy barrels of new make that appreciate in value over time. Even a relatively young whisky can sell for more than ten times the new make’s original value.
Understanding that a journey is worth more than simply money, the Full Circle team has kept some of the new make apart, issuing a special invitation for those who are ready.
Kari and Rose recognise a practice that speaks to their shared experience of reinvention and adaptation.
In a small studio space in Adelaide’s West End, Oakey gently arranges charred tree branches in a corner. The sculptural artist has roamed the Cudlee Creek hills, devastated by the 2019 and 2020 bushfires, and chosen only the burned remnants that speak to her.
Now, she prepares to give them a new life.
Her processes undress the wood. From the blackened outer emerges an untouched core. With great care and respect, she conjures the tree’s past into the present. The resultant objects, annealed by fire and crafted into beauty, are intriguing.
In Oakey’s work, Kari and Rose recognise a practice that speaks to their shared experience of reinvention and adaptation. Rose has been creating Full Circle’s maiden whisky and Kari must usher it into the world – drawing together elements that unfurl a narrative of sustainability and refinement. Oakey’s work is the next piece to fall into place.
Kari commissioned the artist to create an exclusive collection – objects made purposefully for the community that gathers around this bespoke release. Participants will be led through the transformation – from new make to whisky – and their first bottles will be accompanied by crystal tumblers and a hand-made plinth. Hewn by Oakey from reclaimed burned wood, it’s a chance to experience – to taste, touch and smell – the beauty inherent in resilience.
Amy Joy Watson
Every stitch represents a moment of consideration.
A crucial element of Amy Joy Watson’s artwork is time. Her nuanced creations - sometimes sculptural, sometimes sitting flat against the wall - glint with the texture of her thread. As she stitches along the seams, she offers up the seconds of her life – giving them to the work.
Amy uses her thread to trace the topography of the Adelaide Hills. Her needle outlines the time the whisky will sit aging, references the regrowth that followed the bushfires, weaves the story of Full Circle’s capacity to build something new out of adversity.
When the first taste of new make arrives in our homes, a letterpress impression of Amy’s art will come with it. The investment of her time, the elegant path traced by her hands, will celebrate the beginning of our journey.
The Journey’s End
After years of tastings, guided by Rose, the Maiden Whisky will have come full circle. It will be siphoned from the barrel, bottled and shared only with those of us who believed in it from the start.
When we raise our tumblers together for the last time, whether we’re together or apart, we’ll remain united by the journey. Finally, the rich aged whisky will pass from our hands to yours.