Changes are afoot at Kangaroo Island Spirits.
Charlie Schmidt stepped into the role of Chief Distiller last September and Jon and Sarah Lark have left the distillery. Meanwhile construction is close to being completed as part of the $3.5 million re-development, with plans for a November opening, including a new cellar door that can accommodate up to 50 guests.
The new facility, designed by Studio S2 Architects, was partly funded by a $500,000 grant from the SA Tourism Commission’s Tourism Industry Development Fund. It will be open to the public in November.
A 1800L steam driven gin still has been installed on site as well as a 4500L whisky still.
Mr Schmidt (pictured below with dog, Tyler) has told local media that the whisky still will be making 1200L of spirit a week, making it the “largest whisky distillery in South Australia.
Mr Schmidt grew up in Adelaide and his father, Ian, is a distiller with twenty years experience and the owner of the award winning Tin Shed Distilling Co.
One of Mr Schmidt’s first releases is a re-release of a 2019 favourite: Kangaroo Island Sprits’ Koala 48 Gin, an homage to cult German drop Monkey 47.
It is the first of five limited-release products in the new Kangaroo Island Spirits’ Distiller Series and is only available in 500ml bottles. The gin features 48 botanicals, all grown in the distillery’s backyard.
“If you bought a bottle of the first release of Koala 48, you’ll taste they’re related, but when you’re dealing with 48 different, fresh botanicals you’re never going to get a perfect match. The 2021 version is distinct,” said Mr Schmidt.
As with all good gins, juniper is the first flavour to hit the front of the palate, according to Mr Schmidt.
“The fresh juniper picked from the trees here at the distillery packs a much stronger, fresher punch than dried juniper from overseas,” he says, “It’s one of the first things you notice when trying Koala 48 and we’re really proud of it.”
Kangaroo Island Spirits is one of the only distilleries not to import dried juniper berries from Europe.
“These trees are really special,” says Charlie. “There aren’t enough for us to grow the amount of juniper we need for the whole operation, but it’s perfect for limited editions like Koala 48.”
With an ABV of 48 per cent, Koala 48 is only be available in 500ml bottles and is the first of five limited-release products in the new Kangaroo Island Spirits’ Distiller Series.
Kangaroo Island Spirits’ range of award-winning contemporary gins, including the limited-release Koala 48, vodkas and liqueurs are available from the cellar door and the website.