The opening of Kilderkin Distillery in Ballarat restores the historical connection the town has with distilling. Warrenheip Distillery was based nearby from 1864. By 1894 it was the only distillery making whisky in Victoria. It continued to do so until just after World War One when production moved to the Corio Distillery in Geelong.
I recently visited Kilderkin distillery where I met the owners Chris Pratt and Scott Wilson-Browne as well as Scott’s partner Vanessa.
Chris, a psychologist by trade, and Scott, renowned craft brewer and the man behind Red Duck Brewery, met over their shared love of beer. Chris confided in me that he had a project to drink a different craft beer every day of the year, and he and Scott kept bumping in to each other over the years at different beer events. With Chris hailing from Scotland, the chat soon turned to making whisky and eventually, gin.
Why Kilderkin Distillery?
A kilderkin is a cask, usually 16 or 18 gallons. Chris and Scott thought the name suited their background in beer and their plans to make whisky.
The stills were made by Peter Bailley at Knapp Lewer in Tasmania. It was to Peter that Bill Lark first went when he wanted to open his distillery 25 years ago, requesting that they look as close to Macallan stills as possible. Knapp Lewer stills can also be found at Archie Rose, Shene Estate & Distillery and Stone Pine Distillery. Chris and Scott’s assisted with the design and included the option for the botanical basket to be removed, allowing greater flexibility.
Like a lot distilleries, Kilderkin have started out making gin. There are two Kilderkin distillery gins, ‘The Larrikin’ and ‘The Scoundrel’.
‘The Larrikin’ is a contemporary Australian gin made with native botanicals, including lemon myrtle. I find that lemon myrtle can often overwhelm gins (less is definitely more), but ‘The Larrikin’ is tasty and well-balanced. ‘The Scoundrel’ is a more traditional London dry style and a delicious one at that. There is also an aged gin that has been rested for three months in American oak bourbon barrels. They hope to have their whisky ready by 2019.
Kilderkin Distillery, 11A Michaels Drive, Alfredton Ballarat, VIC 3350.
Cellar Door open 10am-4pm Monday – Friday and 12-5pm on Saturdays.
You can follow them on Facebook.