Give me a gin that tastes of mulberries

Oct 15, 2021
Mulberry Gin is a delightful treat. Source: Getty

In the 60s, 70s and 80s, mulberry trees were a common feature in many Australian backyards. Their once-a-year crop of bright purple, fabric-staining fruit was a flavour experience everyone adored.  So it’s no surprise that the boutique range of Mulberry Gin produced by Kangaroo Island Spirits is extremely popular among over-60s.  Today we take a look at the story behind this product, originally made in very small batches, from local South Australian mulberries with heart and soul. We speak to the crafters behind this gin and how it has expanded to become a well-loved speciality product and gift, now shipped nationwide

Mulberries have a rich history

The idea for mulberry gin started from one mulberry tree that was planted in Reeves Point in Kingscote, Kangaroo Island in 1836.  Still standing strong today, this tree is now protected as a historical treasure. In the early years, settlers came from miles to take cuttings to grow their own mulberry trees all over the island, forming a firm love of mulberries in the hearts and yards of generations to come.  In  2010 Joe and Sarah Lark, the Founders of Kangaroo Island Spirits, a boutique gin distillery had the brilliant idea of creating a mulberry infused gin. 

How Mulberry Gin began

Joe and Sarah sourced mulberries from private properties throughout the island, all of which were reportedly grown from the original tree.  They macerated the mulberries into their well-loved gin, soaking them for two-three weeks and produced short runs of the mulberry gin of about 30-50 litres for their first run.  This once-per-year release became the stuff of legend in the region with the bottles being snapped up by passionate locals as quickly as they could make them in mulberry season.  However, the mulberry season was short and the fruit didn’t keep well, so the demand quickly overtook the supply.  This once-a-year release in October became highly anticipated amongst locals and South Australians with other states not hearing much of the story. 

Growing demand means more mulberries

It wasn’t until 2020, when the bushfires wiped out more than 60% of the island’s mulberry trees that Kangaroo Island Spirits took up the challenge to find a way to make more mulberry gin, to the same recipe, casting a wider net to source mulberries throughout South Australia to ensure a supply that was more consistent. This led to more hype for demand and less impact on supply. 

“The amount of fruit we can get from Kangaroo Island is very limited,” said Charlie Schmidt, Head Distiller of Kangaroo Island Spirits. 

“So we’ve approached Peter Sabo, a mulberry grower from the Murray River region in regional South Australia and he is now producing an enormous quantity of mulberries to support our growing demand”. 

“We figured getting the mulberries from South Australia was the next best thing when we outgrew the ability of Kangaroo Island’s mulberry supply to support our needs.”

For the last 8-10 years Mulberry gin has been a seasonal release, but in the last 12 months, it has become a year-round production.  

“The demand for the product is huge, and there is a move to being able to make it fresh, and keep only enough in stock to ensure it is fresh.” Charlie described the distilling process as ‘pretty simple’. 

“We macerate the Kangaroo Island Gin with the mulberries for 2-3 weeks before straining off the liquid, filtering it and putting it into a bottle.  Unopened it will keep for up to a year.  Once opened, the oxygenation will change the colour of the gin, but not the flavour.”

What’s the best way to drink mulberry gin? 

Mulberry Gin is unique in the fact that there’s no added sugar.

“It comes across quite savoury and dry.  The best way to enjoy it is with a bit of ginger beer, to bring out the carbonation and sweetness,” said Charlie.  

And when the head distiller says this, we just had to give it a try. It was delicious! 

You can buy Mulberry Gin at the Starts at 60 Marketplace here

Four amazing cocktail recipes for Mulberry Gin

Mulberry Passion

Ingredients

60ml Mulberry Gin

30ml passionfruit pulp

15ml elderflower cordial

10ml fresh lime juice

mineral water (approx. 40 to 60ml)

Garnish

1 x fresh lime wheel

3 or 4 fresh mulberries

icing sugar

Method

Mix all ingredients with ice in a rocks glass, top with mineral water to within 15mm of top of the glass. Garnish with mulberries on top of lime slice, dust or sprinkle icing sugar predominantly over berries & rim of the glass. Alternatively, you can rim the top of the glass with lime juice & dip the glass in icing sugar.

1.33 standard drinks approx

Mulberry Passion Spritz

Ingredients

60ml Mulberry Gin

40ml passionfruit syrup

10ml sugar syrup

15ml lime juice

soda/ mineral water

Garnish

fresh mint  

Method

In a stemless glass with ice mix passionfruit syrup, sugar syrup & lime juice well. Add soda/mineral water & gently stir. Using a bar spoon, layer mulberry gin on top then garnish

1.33 standard drinks approx

Mulberry Gin Sour #1

Ingredients

60ml Mulberry Gin

25ml fresh lime juice

20ml honey syrup (1:1 honey-boiled water)

20ml egg white (Pasteurised from the supermarket)

3 x Splashes of Angostura Bitters

Garnish

Thin Slice of Strawberry  

Method

Dry shake (without ice) for 15 seconds, Add ice & shake for another 15 seconds. Strain over whisky glass ½ filled with ice, allow 90 seconds for head to form then garnish & serve.

Alternatives 

Can be made without egg white (you will need more ice in the glass) Powdered egg white or Vegan-Friendly Aquafaba (Viscous Liquid from a tin of Chickpeas) can be a substitute for fresh. 

1.33 standard drinks approx

 

Mulberry Delight

Ingredients

60ml Mulberry Gin

100ml San Pelligrino Aranciata

Garnish

Large sprig of Mint  

Method

Fill a rocks glass with ice, add Aranciata, layer Mulberry on top & garnish with Mint

Alternatives 

San Pelligrino Aranciata Rosso is a very good substitute, apply the same method.

1.33 standard drinks approx

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