Kangaroo Island Spirits set to expand, rebrand and take on the world

March 24, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

Gin producer Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS) has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC), adding to owner Mighty Craft’s planned investment of $3 million in the project to develop a world class experimental distillery and destination of choice for tourists.

Mighty Craft purchased Kangaroo Island Spirits for $1.5 million at the beginning of 2020 from Jon and Sarah Lark who established what was Australia’s first dedicated gin distillery in 2002. (Brother is Bill Lark of world-famous Lark Distillery in Tasmania.) CEO of Mighty Craft Mark Haysman says KIS is the most awarded and unknown distillery in Australia – KIS was a finalist in London’s prestigious IWSC awards last year.

“They were fifteen years ahead of everyone else,” says Haysman (pictured below left with Jon Lark and Stuart Morton).

The site expansion includes an improved cellar door and an immersive experience to showcase the KIS brand to visitors, boosting the distillery’s capacity to cater to up to 50 people, while the project will also increase distillery production and storage capacities.

 “We are getting set to take Australia’s most internationally recognised gin brand, Kangaroo Island Spirits, to the world. Upgrades to its humble site origins at Cygnet River will allow Kangaroo Island Distillery to become one of Australia’s most iconic experiential distilleries, attracting global visitation and contribution to the broader economy,” he said.

The new distillery will have an initial production capacity of over 200,000 bottles with scope to increase this even further. The upgrade will also ensure that KIS’s Whisky Strategy can be accelerated with the goal to have 2,000 barrels of aged whisky stock by 2025. 

Mighty Craft intend to rebrand KIS before extending the distribution range of KIS first along Australia’s eastern seaboard. Then, once production capacity is increased, to then take KIS to New Zealand, the UK, Japan and Singapore.

The grant from SATC comes from the Tourism Industry Development Fund (TIDF), created by the state government to support COVID recovery of regional tourism. The fund will distribute $20 million over two years.

SATC chief executive Rodney Harrex said the significant investment in the project was an outstanding result for Kangaroo Island and that the project would “help promote the region and attract additional visitors. It will enable the distillery to be involved in a wider a range of events, diversify its range, create jobs and boost its capacity for training.”

SA-based architecture firm Studio S2 Architects and Kauppila builders, will manage and deliver construction works at the Cygnet River site, which will create 20 full-time positions during construction with a further 20 full-time ongoing positions once complete, with practical completion expected by July 2021.  The existing cellar door and distillery will continue to be operational and open for trade throughout the upgrade.

Mighty Craft’s ownership of KIS is unique in the Mighty Craft suite of businesses. Haysman explains that primarily Mighty Craft can be defined as a  “shared solutions services growth provider”. 

“We invest alongside the founders and then leave them to play to their strength: crafting their products. We then cover any gaps and help them to expand,” Haysman explains.

Mighty Craft brings capital to the businesses and then offers a suite of centralised services back to the companies, including exports, sales, distribution, marketing services and e-commerce, then charging a commission back to the companies that they help to grow.

For the first half of FY20, Mighty Craft has seen revenue grow by 185 per cent, driven primarily by new venue developments, acquisitions and investments. Total wholesale growth grew by 103 per cent made up of beer growth which was up 85 per cent and spirits / RTD’s up 190 per cent.

Mighty Craft is an Associate Member of the Drinks Association

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