Australian bush gin prepares to take on world

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Australian bush gin prepares to take on world

Related tags: Australia, South australia

A small distillery on a remote Australian island is preparing to take its award-winning gin to wider markets.

Kangaroo Island Spirits recently received the Champion Gin trophy at the Australian Distilled Spirits awards for one of its products.

The accolade comes as the remote distillery prepares to install a second still to give it the capacity to enter the export market.

Its owners, Jon and Sarah Lark, have been distilling at Cygnet River for more than a decade.

Jon, whose brother Bill founded the renowned Tasmanian whisky distillery, Lark, said the second still would have the ability to “more than double​” production, which currently sits at about 7,000-litres a year.

We’ve intentionally remained small over the years because we wanted to maintain control of our product but we’ve just been receiving so much interest, particularly in export, that we are about to install a 300-litre pot still and within 12-months we’ll have that running off solar power and have the only solar distillery in the country​,” he said.

Kangaroo Island Spirits has up to five gins using local botanicals and traditional processes in its range at any one time. It also produces vodka and liqueurs.

Lark said although the most significant sales were through the cellar door, wholesale was rapidly expanding with a great deal of interest coming from high-end bars, restaurants and independent bottle shops across Australia.

He said the artisan distillery had received international inquiries from America, Britain and Asia.

I’d particularly like to go into Spain because Spain consumes more gin than the UK, though a lot of people don’t realise that, and certainly Asia makes a lot of sense from here as well​,” he said

Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third largest offshore island, is about 150km southwest of the South Australian capital Adelaide.

Known for its natural beauty and wildlife, it is a tourism icon drawing more than 40,000 international visitors every year with the majority coming from Italy, Germany and North America.

We’ve been here 10 years and we’re going from strength to strength, and this award is going to help us no end in getting to that next stage​,” Lark said.

Also, Kangaroo Island has developed a fairly significant food and wine industry and we’ve been a part of that​. “

Kangaroo Island Spirits took out the national award for its Old Tom gin, a traditional gin flavoured with native plants.

It boasts a distinctly Australian flavour enhanced by the inclusion of foliage from the coastal daisy bush (olearia axillaris​), native juniper (myoporum insulare​) and locally grown lemon and aniseed myrtles.

Lark said Old Tom was a slightly sweetened gin, which took its name from an English gin tradition from the eighteenth century.

We’ve made an Old Tom style of gin using that process but we’ve added local botanicals and we’ve aged it for six weeks in reconditioned French oak barrels to give it some character,​” he added.

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