Bundaberg’s beloved Kalki Moon Distilling and Brewing Company never intended to be a brand built on gin products. Given the outstanding success of their gins it’s hard to imagine. But this award-winning company was actually started as a small-batch rum distillery.
Owner Rick Prosser said they started producing gin out of necessity due to Australian maturation laws for rum. “Refining rum recipes takes patience and time; it’s a rolling trial that can take years,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of capital to throw at the distillery set up. I was fortunate to have the blessing of my wife, Kylie, and support from my mum and brother-in-law. My mates backed me, and the dream, as shareholders, but it still meant we needed to have money coming in from the first day we opened.”
Rick said they were unsure whether gin or vodka would be the hit, as they worked on maturing their rum. It was a last minute decision to invest in gin and give it a big push. “I enjoyed the botanicals and blending involved in making gin. Gin was just starting to simmer in Australia,” he said. “There were 12 gin brands across the country at the time and now there are more than 650. We knew that for locals to switch over to Kalki Moon from the traditional English gins, our first gin needed to be good quality and a similar price.”
In 2018, Kalki Moon Classic Gin was named world’s best gin under $50 at the International Wine and Spirits Awards. Their Solstace Barrel Aged Gin won gold at the 2019 International Wine and Spirits Awards, and their Premium and Navy Strength gins have picked up a swag of Australian medals.
“I didn’t expect to be making gin seven days a week and supplying 130-plus Dan Murphy’s stores,” Rick said. “The success of our gin meant we didn’t have a lot of time to work on our rum.” Last year they installed a bigger gin still which allowed them to focus more on rum. They recently released two rum products: Rum Liqueur and Plant Cane. Kalki Moon is on track to release their Spiced Rum before Christmas, and is building up to unveil their first dark rum next year.
The former Bundaberg Rum Master Blender said he was excited to be producing some small-batch rums. “We are in rum heartland afterall and I’ll always have a soft spot for the Bundaberg Rum brand, but we will never abandon our loyal gin followers,” Rick said. “The local support we’ve received has been really humbling.”