Kangaroo Island Spirits was the first dedicated gin distillery to open in Australia back in 2006.
Founders Jon and Sarah Lark recently stepped away from the business and it has now undergone a re-development to attract more visitors and highlight its history and pedigree.
The biggest addition to Kangaroo Island Spirits is a new distillery building that houses a large new still which is a world away from the original. You’ll see what I mean if you look at the top right corner of the below image, yes, it’s the tiny pot that looks like a pressure cooker.
Charlie Schmidt has taken over the reigns as gin distiller, having worked alongside Jon and Sarah, making him one of the few second generation distillers – Charlie’s dad is Ian Schmidt, owner of Tin Shed distillery.
Alongside the working part of the distillery there is a masterclass area where you can blend your own gin or craft your cocktail making skills.
The cellar door, where you can shop for gin, merchandise and order drinks, is housed in one of the original distillery buildings. It’s surrounded by a spacious gin garden where you can relax and unwind with a drink or two and snacks from the resident food truck.
Foraged ingredients is a hallmark of Kangaroos Island gins, and foraging was happening here well before it became fashionable. Juniper communis grows here and they were the first gin to feature native juniper (boobialla) as a botanical. The expansion of the gardens offers Charlie a wider range of plants to experiment with.
Kangaroo Island Spirits gin
Kangaroo Island gins are some of the most awarded gins in Australia and each one reveals a different facet of the wild beauty of Kangaroo Island.
O Gin is a contemporary gin with a nod to the classic London Dry style gins. Juniper and citrus are complemented by the use of native coastal daisy (sometimes called wild rosemary), ‘Olearia Axillaris’. This plants is foraged from local beaches and imparts sweet piney notes that work brilliantly with the juniper and zesty orange characters. These strong flavours are complimented with warm asian peppers in the background.
This riff on a sloe gin is absolutely delicious. The team were inspired by the historic mulberry tree that grows near the distillery. Mulberries are steeped in Kangaroo Island Spirits gin to extract the rich flavours from the berries.
It is a sweet gin, but tart flavours from the fruit provide a nice balance and stop it being sickly.
This is a seasonal gin made in limited quantities. It’s delicious served neat over ice or paired with lemon tonic. I find it to be a brilliant accompaniment to the cheese board!
I first fell in love with Wild Gin back in 2014 (you can read the original post here.) and it’s my favourite of the range. It’s a savoury gin with lots of complexity and warmth. It’s a brilliant martini gin, although it’s equally at home in a Negroni.
Whisky Barrel Aged gin
Back in the day, gin was transported around England in old whisky barrels, so barrel-aged gins are nothing new.
Kangaroo Island Spirits create their version by maturing their Wild gin in single malt whisky barrels to create a delightful sipping gin that has flavours of buttery oak, vanilla and a unique whisky character.
Old Tom Gin
Old Tom gins pre-date the London Dry style gins that are so popular today. As gin production was very basic, sweet ingredients were added to mask the nasty flavour of the gin . This style of gin is the basis of some very classic cocktails like the Tom Collins.
Kangaroo Island Spirits’ Old Tom gin is infused with locally grown aniseed and lemon myrtle, before being lightly aged in re-charred French oak barrels. This adds depth and complexity to balance the sweetness of the gin.
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Visiting Kangaroo Island Spirits
856 Playford Hwy, Cygnet River SA 5223.
Monday – Sunday: 10:30am – 5:30pm
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