Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS) has re-released its Koala 48 Gin, which pays homage to cult German gin Monkey 47, but then goes one better with 48 botanicals grown in the distillery’s backyard.

Head Distiller Charlie Schmidt told The Shout that he joined the distillery after the first Koala 48 had been made by Jon Lark, but that he used that recipe as a guide for this incarnation of the gin.

“This time we took the existing recipe, looked at what we had in the garden that was usable and in season and tweaked the recipe using rough ratios and the same sort of flavour profiles and then altered them to match what we could use.

“It took six or seven trials until we got it right and then we upscaled the production and we’re really happy with it.”

In terms of the flavours coming through, Charlie said: “The most prominent thing off the bat is the juniper. We have our own juniper bushes, so it’s fresh off the bush and has a much higher oil content and a much stronger flavour than we get from the dried Macedonian juniper that we use in our other gins.

“That’s what you notice first with Koala 48 and we’re really proud of that. Then there’s this green herbaceous, gardeny notes that’s really quite complex.”

And while in some ways it seems counter-intuitive to use 47 other botanicals when you have this fresh juniper singing in the gin, Charlie explained that is what Koala 48 is all about and what makes it such a special gin.

“You want that juniper to come through strong and be bold and noticeable, but Koala 48 is about all 48 botanicals as well, it’s not solely about our juniper. Balancing 48 botanicals is really difficult and that’s what the gin is all about, and about growing all those botanicals locally.

“If we wanted to really lean on the juniper then we’d really drop it back to maybe eight or 10 botanicals, so we could focus on the juniper more and have it come through stronger, but it’s testament to the freshness of the juniper that there’s 48 botanicals in there and the juniper still comes out.”

When it comes to drinking Koala 48, Charlie said it’s such a complex gin that it works really well on its own, but as not everyone can sip gin straight he said the KIS cellar door is serving it in a Juicy 48 with ruby grapefruit, fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, elderflower cordial and sugar syrup, which Charlie said was “sensational”.

With an ABV of 48 per cent, Koala 48 will only be available in 500ml bottles. It is the first of five limited-release products in the new Kangaroo Island Spirits’ Distiller Series.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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