Kangaroo Island Distillery expansion taking shape as new stills arrive

Take a tour of the new shed...

The new Kangaroo Island Distillery is taking shape on the the grounds of the Island's iconic gin factory.

The big new, copper gin sits proudly in the huge new distilling shed, while an even bigger whisky still will arrive in coming weeks.

Mighty Craft, the new owners of the iconic Kangaroo Island Spirits gin and whisky distillery, together with their local team and contractors, have progressed well with their $3.5 million development.

The development will see KI Spirits' existing cellar door and production room become a world-class distillery and a must-see tourism destination for Kangaroo Island.

Head distiller Charlie Schmidt is hoping to have the new shed in production and open for tours by the busy summer tourist season.

"The far side of the building will be kind of customer experience area and they will be able to walk across and see our stills and we will offer tours and chat to people and explain the process," he said. "Give people a look behind the curtain really."

They are also planning a "whisky library" or relaxed area in the shed with Chesterfield lounges and four locally made wooden tables, where the world's whiskies will be on display and the local blends available for tasting.

There will be room for about 40 seated and up to 100 standing for various functions and cocktail masterclasses.

The new 1800-litre, steam-driven still will be dwarfed by the even-bigger new 4500-litre whisky still. Both made of pure copper by Stillsmiths of Tasmania.

The gin still will up production of that spirit three fold, while the whisky still will produce 1,200 litres of spirit a week.

When in full production, the $1.3-million distilling operation could produce 300 200-litre barrels of whisky a year, all of which need to age for at least two years.

"It's a huge step up in production and will make us the largest whisky distillery in SA," he said.

Mighty Craft meanwhile is thinking long term and had purchased the health retreat property at Emu Bay to house new employees needed once the expansion opens.

The Kangaroo Island Distillery project did secure a $500,000 grant funding through the state government's Tourism Industry Development Fund.

There are future stages planned, but for now the old tasting room and production area will stay and be modified to enhance the customer experience.

Mighty Craft are keen to keep the heritage aspects of the property going back to its roots when it was founded in a back shed by Jon and Sarah Lark.

"We are not in any rush and want to do the landscaping and final stages properly and make sure the visitor has the best possible experience," local manager Kylie Bamfield said.

There were also plans for a brand relaunch and new labels, building on the identity built by the Larks, she said.

There are also plans to improve the landscaping and relocate the food van. Parking will be upgraded and rainwater harvested in dams for processing through dams and the seed bank plantings.

Army connections

Charlie Schmidt came to know Kangaroo Island during last year's bushfire crisis.

He served as a reservist with the 10/27 Battalion of the Royal SA Regiment, overseeing a team conducting recovery operations.


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