Kalki Moon is aiming to export its award-winning Bundaberg gin to the United Kingdom by the end of the year.
Founder and distiller Rick Prosser said launching Kalki Moon with gin had been a business decision as it offered a quick turnaround from distilling to sale.
Having achieved master distiller status during his time at Bundaberg Rum it was always Rick’s intention to produce premium rum when he went out on his own. But legal requirements that say rum needs to be aged for a minimum of two years before sale left him looking for alternatives in the meantime.
“We’ve been open since March of 2017, we took a bit of a gamble and opened on gin and vodka with some liqueurs that came in a bit later,” Rick said.
“So the gin and vodka was very important for us as a brand to get out into the public and get some income for our business and we just got on at the right time.
“Gin’s very popular and we’ve been able to work in closely with Bundaberg Brewed Drinks and educate people on what gin is and how it’s made and just other options to drink it instead of thinking gin has to be drunk with tonic.”
Not only did sales ramp up quicker than expected in the local market, Kalki Moon’s various gin varieties have attracted several awards.
“We’ve won some big awards internationally. Our classic gin has won our biggest award to date and it was very humbling that a product that was designed for our local market has won our biggest international award, with it winning gold at the International Wine and Spirits last year.
“Out of 625 entries … there was only 14 golds given and our gin was the only one in the 37% class.
“Our other two products, our premium gin and navy have won gold here at the Australian awards last year and this year and we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks how our navy’s gone.”
Popular Kalki Moon gin headed for United Kingdom
The Bundaberg-based product is now sold through major retailer Dan Murphys in more than 90 stores throughout Australia.
“Our production is always on the increase. We started off small because when we started we didn’t have a lot of money to get the business up and going.
“But in our first full financial year we moved about 25,000 bottles out of here and I think this financial year just finished we’re closer to 60,000.
“Now our classic gin we’ve been doing 1000 bottles a month which is really good for us.
“We’re pushing a lot of product out the door and it’s all small batch, hand crafted so we always bottle here on site, we cap it here and we label.”
He said plans to upgrade equipment in September would see the local business increase that amount.
“That’ll enable us to go a bit harder nationally with our products and look at exporting into the UK.
“Hopefully around October/November we’ll be doing some exports into the UK.”
Partnerships pour in for drink
In addition to a partnership with the internationally recognised Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Kalki Moon’s gin has been noticed by some other big players in the industry.
“When we started making our pink gin, which is a liqueur, we needed to educate people on how to drink it because it’s not like a high strength gin; it’s a bit sweeter and it mixes really well with Prosecco and champagne,” he said.
“One of our local establishments here, The Spotted Dog, he mixed it with Brown Brothers Prosecco for us and just a couple of weeks later reps from Brown Brothers were through and saw it on the menu.
“That’s where that little partnership started.
“It was very humbling to see artwork coming back with Brown Brothers sitting next to our logo and it’s working well.”
Bundaberg ideal base for business
Rick said after getting his start in the industry locally there was no other place than Bundaberg where he would want to base Kalki Moon.
“So Bundaberg, with it being our home town, made sense and there’s so much going on for the region,” he said.
“We’ve got our tipple tourism so we’re very lucky to have Bundy Rum here, Bargara Brewing Company, Ohana Winery as well as Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.
“Just working in with those good businesses as well on the back of our tourism which is very strong.
“Being only four hours from Brisbane it’s not too far a drive for people to come up for a weekend.
“I think it would have been a big difference if we went into the city to try and set up the brand so just being in regional Queensland has worked really well for us.”
He said the region’s agricultural sector was also a huge benefit, incorporating local produce into his drinks.
“In our gin we’ve tried to use as much local product as we can, so we use lemon and cinnamon myrtle which is grown by Fiona at Flavours from Bundaberg.
“We also use Bundaberg ginger.”
Seasonal drink selling like hot cakes
AustChilli product is also incorporated into a special seasonal chilli vodka with the 2019 batch launched just last week.
“It’s developed a bit of a cult following the chilli vodka,” Rick said.
“The first year we did it … we did 100 bottles. Last year we did 200 and this year we’ve done 500.
“Within four days, half of them are already gone so it’s very popular.
“It mixes beautifully with tomato juice in bloody Mary or with Bundy Brewed Drinks blood orange.”
Kalki Moon rum, which Rick said he’d been making since day one, is set to be released late next year.