Local spirits distilling – and the economy of South Australia’s Riverland region – has been given a shot in the arm with the launch today (September 23, 2016) of Bickford’s Group’s new $6.6-million 23rd Street Distillery in Renmark.
The rejuvenated century-old Renmano site takes its name from its location on the town’s 23rd Street and was officially opened by State Tourism Minister and Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Leon Bignell in front of hundreds of guests.
Minister Bignell praised the company for its support of regional development and highlighted the positive impact 23rd Street Distillery and its Visitor Centre – redeveloped in part by a $2.3 million State Government grant through the Riverland Sustainable Futures Fund – would have on the region.
“More than 30,000 visitors are expected to visit the distillery each year,” he said.
“In another win-win for the local community, the distillery will be sourcing local ingredients from local producers wherever possible.
“The 100 per cent family-owned and independent business is investing in South Australia, creating jobs and generating significant economic benefits for the region.
“It’s been a great week for the Riverland. Recent data shows during the past 12 months, the region welcomed more than 859,000 visitors and this world-class attraction will help to ensure those numbers continue to grow.”
The premium 23rd Street Distillery will launch with four new and exclusive craft spirits under the 23rd Street label – ‘Not Your Nanna’s’ brandy, a premium ‘Prime 5’ brandy, a hybrid and limited edition whiskey of just 160 cases per annum and a signature gin.
The existing Black Bottle brandy and Vickers gin brands, both of which enjoy growing domestic and international appeal, will also be produced on site. Furthermore, a new premium brandy that highlights the quality and uniqueness Australian brandy enjoys over its French competitors will be released under the Black Bottle brand, while 23rd Street Distillery plans to introduce future products in small batches.
Its production capabilities centre on three stills with the capacity to produce around 1,500 litres – or about 11 barrels – of matured spirit during each run, positioning 23rd Street Distillery as Australia’s leading family-owned producer of branded spirits. As such, Bickford’s Group Owner and Managing Director Angelo Kotses, whose brainchild it was to revamp the historic site, said 23rd Street Distillery will have a profoundly positive and wide-ranging impact.
“We anticipate it will signal the rebirth of distilling in South Australia, while tapping into the craft renaissance that’s already prevalent in areas such as coffee and beer,” Mr Kotses said.
“All this activity in an industry that’s currently worth some $3-billion to the nation’s economy each year will also create an initial 15 fulltime and casual jobs.”
Mr Kotses added that as the head of an iconic South Australian company long synonymous with the country’s premium cordial brands, he was delighted to continue the tradition at a site with an equally distinguished history.
“Thanks in part to a generous $2.3-million State Government grant, we’ve created a facility that celebrates its history, where you will find a raft of modern distillation technologies sitting comfortably alongside three restored vintage copper pot stills,” Mr Kotses said.
Under the expert eye of Head Distiller Graham Buller and his team, 23rd Street Distillery will build the existing brands, continue to add new tastes to the Australian craft spirits industry and look to take the new 23rd Street products to the international market within the next year.
“We are here to create the best possible Australian-made spirits that local consumers engage with. And with the implicit support of Angelo Kotses, we’re excited about the bare canvas before us,” Mr Buller said.
“Our brief is clear – so long as we continue to produce the existing products, nothing is off the table. Indeed, we’re being encouraged to be inventive and innovative…and in the process, reignite brandy, give it a healthy dose of cool and captivate new consumers with a drink they thought was only for their nannas.
“And with all the delicious local produce of the Riverland on our doorstep and those of the Adelaide Hills just a few hundred kilometres away, we have the expertise and premium ingredients to produce world-class craft spirits and play our part in their revival by creating prime spirits for the liberated palate.”
The working distillery will also form the centrepiece of the 23rd Street Distillery Visitor Centre, with visitors engaged through educational tours of the facility and tastings of the range of products, including a number of distillery exclusives.
Furthermore, with the on-site museum showcasing the distillery’s illustrious history via a rich display of items – many donated by the local community and former employees – the Visitor Centre promises to become one of the Riverland’s major tourist attractions.
“It is certainly a tourist destination with a difference, where a unique experience that embraces the craft renaissance and the sensory pleasures of taste, sight, smell, sound and touch is on offer,” Mr Kotses added.
For more information, visit the 23rd Street Distillery website at www.23rdstreetdistillery.com.au