Sink or swim gin bid floats

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By Gretel Sneath

You simply can’t bottle incredible South Australian experiences. Or can you?

Divers who plunge into the pristine depths of Kilsby Sinkhole in the Limestone Coast will soon be able to toast their adventurous spirits with a glass of Sinkhole Gin crafted from the limestone-filtered water.

Brothers Graham and Ben Kilsby are the sinkhole custodians taking immersive experiences to new levels in partnership with gin-loving friends Stuart Edwards and Kris Hamilton.

The Kilsby Sinkhole is world renowned as one of the best sinkhole diving spots. Photo by Ockert le Roux.

Long-term fans of home-brewing, the four mates saw an opportunity to create SA’s newest craft gin with a distinct local flavour.

“We thought how amazing it would be to use the water from the sinkhole – the purest water in Australia – to make the gin,” Ben says.

Tucked away on the farming property that has been in Ben’s family for four generations, the 65m-deep Kilsby Sinkole is rated among the world’s best cave-diving sites due to its exceptional water clarity.

The four men behind the Sinkhole Gin. Photo by Kate Hill.

Diversifying into eco-tourism was the first exciting move for the prime lamb producers, with up to 2000 visitors from around the globe now flocking to their property 15km out of Mt Gambier each year.

Now, they’re poised to make a splash in the drinks trade after 12 months of dedicated research.

“To a gin lover, the whole experience from aroma to palate is paramount and we got very involved in the whole process,” Ben says.

Designed to champion the Limestone Coast region, the gin takes its main flavour profile from muntries – a tiny native cranberry, or ‘emu apple’, which grows wild along the rugged coastline.

A bird’s eye view of the Kilsby Sinkhole. Photo by Ockert le Roux.

“It’s got a type of rhubarb-apple crumble flavour to it, and we’ve also added local honey, a little juniper, lime zest, lemon myrtle – we’ve got almost 20 ingredients each playing a role, and the result is something that is fresh and floral and unique to this region,” Ben says.

In order to guarantee future batch consistency, the Kilsbys have now planted a muntrie crop of their own surrounding the sinkhole. Yes – they’re thinking big, spurred on by Limestone Coast locals who immediately threw their support behind a sink or swim crowdfunding campaign on Pozible, raising close to $30,000 towards the venture.

“If the interest wasn’t there, we would have scrapped the idea, but the first batch has already been pre-sold and we’re expecting delivery prior to Christmas,” Ben says. “It’s going to be a really fun gin to put on the table.”

The Sinkhole Gin.

Pre-orders are now flowing for batch number two, with restaurants and bars also lining up for stock. A limoncello characterised by the bold, robust flavours of local farmhouse lemons is also in the pipeline, but the ultra-pure water will always be the hero ingredient.

“This is just a really fun way for us to be able to celebrate our natural attractions in a completely different way, to a completely new market,” Ben says.

“The Mt Gambier region is known worldwide in diving circles, but people as close as Adelaide don’t realise what assets we have beyond the Blue Lake, so we think this is the perfect pairing.”

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