With the many varied stories we’ve heard from craft distillers, I think it’s fair to say we’ve managed to hit on a new one with this month’s distillery.
Chris Pratt and his wife Rebecca both come from a psychology background and form one half of the team behind Kilderkin. Rounding out the other half of the team are Scott Wilson-Browne and his wife Vanessa. Scott is a craft brewer from Ballarat and founder of well-regarded local brewery Red Duck.
You can imagine the jump from craft brewer to distiller wasn’t such a huge one, but how Scott and Vanessa came to it from psychology professions intrigued us. As it turns out, this was very much a long-time passion for them both. Coming from Scotland, you could say whisky is in the genes, but in reality, it’s craft production in alcohol that really fires Chris up. Chris has a long history of seeking out great quality craft drinks to enjoy, whether it’s whisky from his native Scotland, or his year long commitment to sample a new craft beer each day.
This inevitably led him to Scott’s door, as a purveyor of fine craft beers. A few more meetings and deeper discussions helped the pair realise as well as drinking good booze, they also love the idea (in Scott’s case the job) of producing fine drinks also.
Housing their new venture at Red Duck in Ballarat made sense and enables Scott to keep up with both brewing and distilling. It doesn’t hurt that it also rekindled distilling, for the first time in over 80 years, in an area that already has a rich history of it.
Ballarat was the location of Victoria’s very first distillery, Warrenheip Distillery (pronounced ‘heap’). Appropriately located in Dunnstown, named after the Irish distiller who founded Warrenheip, it benefited from being located in close proximity to the Ballarat goldfields. Cashed up customers anyone?!
Scott and Chris founded Kilderkin Distillery in 2016 and took the name from a traditional English beer barrel (around 80 litres in size) a Kilderkin. The Kilderkin also happens to be Scott and Chris’ preferred barrel size for ageing their products, including their very tasty barrel age gin.
As anyone will tell you setting up a distillery doesn’t happen overnight and Kilderkin was no exception. While the dream and initial discussions between Chris and Scott began some years earlier, things began in earnest around 18 months before opening, with the purchase of their Tasmanian built stills. Kilderkin’s stills were built by Peter Bailey of Knapp-Lewer. Peter has built stills for many distinguished Australian distilleries including the likes of McHenry, Archie Rose and of course Lark Distillery.
Since opening Kilderkin has launched a range of gins from a more traditional juniper forward style The Scoundrel, our pick for your gin of the month The Larrikin, a navy strength offering The Buccaneer and finally a barrel age gin featuring The Scoundrel. We’re excited to hear from Chris that there are some very limited projects in the works, which Gin Lane members will be first in line to purchase as and when they’re released!