Kangaroo Island Spirits
856 Playford Highway, Cygnet River, SA 5223
0437 161 765
Many of the best partnerships start at weddings. In the case of Kangaroo Island Spirits, it was at the celebration of owners Jon and Sarah Lark that the idea of a distillery was planted, and they ended the night with not one, but two relationships: one personal and one working.
Everything fell into place when they honeymooned on Kangaroo Island and fell in love with the area, recognising it as the perfect location to set up the business.
Specialising in handcrafted premium Australian spirits, Kangaroo Island Spirits is South Australia’s first boutique distillery. Its award-winning gin, vodka and liqueurs are all produced with the philosophy of ‘slow spirits’ in mind. The concept takes inspiration from the ‘slow food’ movement, which involves using high quality, fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, prepared with care, produced passionately and made using traditional processes and recipes. All of its products are clean, additive- and preservative-free and where possible, made with native Australian botanicals.
Jon is the Head Distiller. His history in commercial cookery allowed him to develop an understanding of flavours that are produced from combining different botanicals and how to get the best out of them. A degree in aquaculture has also proven useful for the chemistry side of things.
Together with Sarah, Jon has been at the forefront of the latest gin revolution, promoting the enjoyment of the spirit by educating its growing fan base on how to drink gin, how it’s made, the botanicals that are used and its fascinating and sometimes sordid history.
Its flagship gin is the Wild Gin, which uses a native juniper-like berry, known as myoporum insulare. It’s made in very small batches using the basket distillation process in an 80-litre copper still. The accompanying botanicals include Macedonian juniper, coriander, cardamom, mace, cassia, pink pepper, caraway, lime zest, fresh ginger and mint.
Jon and Sarah have also experienced stunning success with a new product, ‘O’ Gin. It’s distilled with the inclusion of local olearia axillaris, known as ‘coastal daisy bush’. Sweet, with pine overtones, the plant works well with juniper, making it the perfect addition to the product. Made using the same small-batch basket distillation process as the Wild Gin, it boasts orange flavours and some exotic peppers to balance its otherwise savoury nature.
Kangaroo Island Spirits isn’t a one-trick pony. It also produces a range of vodkas, including a triple-distilled and charcoal filtered Vodka Pure and Vodka Slap, the Pure vodka infused with samphire, lime and pepper, can be used as a substitute for tequila.
Stop by the cellar door to taste the full range and absorb the island’s culture and hospitality. Check out the gin garden, a collection of plants that are used in the making of gin as well as the garnishing of a gin and tonic. With the assistance of their creative gardener, Jon and Sarah have been building on their selection, including planting 150 juniper bushes, which they hope to use in their products down the track.