Kalki Moon Rum Founder Rick Prosser

Published by The Rumlab ago about the Kalki Moon company

Kalki Moon Rum Founder Rick Prosser article cover image

Founded in Bundaberg’s infamous cane fields, Kalki Moon is the region’s artisan distillery.

It was born in Bundaberg, Australia, with its Founder and Distiller, Rick Prosser, taking inspiration from the cane fields.

Kalki Moon comes from the Bundaberg suburb, Kalkie, where Rick and his wife Kylie built their home. One night, Rick found himself inspired by the view of the cane fields–which span kilometers–and how the full moon shone down on them. It embodied the beauty of this great region, which is exactly what Kalki Moon aspires to do as well. Learn more about him, in the next interview.

TRL: Who is Rick Prosser?

I am the founder and owner of the company, an alcohol manufacturer come, Distillery Owner who is extremely passionate about the Australian Distilling Industry. I’ve been involved in the production of Australian spirits for over two decades.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of learning from some of Australia’s best alcohol producers and six years ago, my wife and I set up our own family distillery. This is when Kalki Moon was born.

I’m a father of three, and grandfather of six and I love all things Australian, especially craft distilling. I am a proud supporter of my local community in Bundaberg, Queensland, sponsoring local clubs and putting on countless events at the distillery, which support other local businesses.

TRL: What does the rum mean for you? What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

Rum for me is our region, Bundaberg. It’s where I live, where I grew up. It’s been the home of Australian Rum since 1888 and where I was fortunate to work at Bundaberg Rum for many years.

There is nothing better than walking into a bond store that holds hundreds of thousands of liters of rum and inhaling the aromas from the vats while it’s aging. It’s something quite spectacular. Seeing the product from a clear distillate and watching it turn into a golden dark amber spirit during aging is when I realized I had found my calling.

TRL: Three essential characteristics that define the rum according to your perspective

Firstly, ‘Region’ – sourcing quality, local molasses plays a large part in the characterization of what the rum is going to be. Then the distillation process of either a traditional ‘Pot Still’ or ‘Column Still’ and then that characteristic of how it’s going to be aged, whether small barrel or vat. 

TRL: What is the most important contribution you have made to the rum industry?

For me, it would be my part as a major contributor to the Master’s Distiller’s collection at Bundaberg Rum. More than a decade ago, I and several colleagues led the way in taking the brand into a premium direction, rather than relying on standardized products, we created a Small Batch Program to enhance and make Premium Rums. I think this was an important contribution to Australia because it then showed Bundaberg as a brand developing Premium Rums, which has led to the emergence of our Australian Craft Rum Industry.

TRL: Benefits that the rum industry has given you.

I was extremely fortunate to gain knowledge from on-the-floor experience, which then led to gaining the confidence to set up our own business. Whilst study defiantly has a place in alcohol manufacturing you can’t beat being hands on and learning on the job, also being a former Diageo employee really embedded safety in the workplace which I have been able to incorporate in our company from day one.

TRL: What’s another thing you are passionate about besides rum? Why?

We have come a long way as a business and we produce Award Winning Gin. We were initially set up to be a small-batch Rum Distillery, but in Australia, the legal age requirement is two years, so in the meantime, we launched our business on Gin and Vodka. Gin has been a large part of what we do. I am very passionate about the production of Gin, again it is a great Aussie-made product and we’ve been supported a lot by our local region. In recent years, we have shown that our Gin range can hold its own in quality and flavor against the big multinational brands. We have now been nominated twice as International Gin Producer of the Year at the IWSC in London.

TRL: What is your favorite place for drinking rum?

Nothing for me beats the aroma, the location, and the feel of the distillery to have a sip of rum. 

There is nothing better than tasting rum straight out of the barrel, then left to sit for a bit before having a taste to evaluate its progression in aging. On a social level, I’m not much of a drinker these days, so most drinking is done in either my own or colleagues’ distilleries.

There are, however, some amazing cocktails using rum – with the emergence of the bar scene, especially across regional Australia, and the growth of Australian Rum, the bars are serving up some wonderful expressions.

TRL: Favourite drink + Recipe

It has to be a cocktail we make in-house – all timely for this time of year ‘A 

Spiced Rum Mojito’ – made with our Spiced Rum, which we released in November, just a little twist on a traditional Mojito. 

TRL: Why is it important to educate the rum consumer?

Knowledge and Power for the consumer are so important. 

There is a lot of really positive growth in the rum category globally. There have been a lot of discussions about the addition of sugar, glycerine, and caramel for color.

The consumer has a right to know what is in the spirit and or how it’s made. I believe that education is power and transparency should be key. 

As a brand ‘Kalki Moon’ can educate the consumer on this in our distillery tours, informing them there is a legal classification age of two years in the Australia Rum Industry, and that the color of our rum is natural from the barrel, the consumer is very surprised about those details that we as producers take for granted. 

Our pure sipping rums are designed not to have any additives. Being open is important for us at Kalki Moon.

TRL: Any tips to train the palate and taste a good premium rum?

I get customers to do a lot of ‘nosing’ of the rum before they taste it. It’s important just to really introduce themselves to the product through smell before taste. It takes a bit of time to train the palate, as most of the time the taster is concerned about the Alcohol strength.

I always tell people to tread gently and on that first sip just hold it in the mouth and not to ‘shot’ it, but to take it slowly while sipping the product, swirl it around in the mouth, let it develop, and breakdown in the mouth before swallowing the rum. 

TRL: What are your next goals in the rum industry?

We are always trying to improve our process, to be more efficient in terms of energy used and human resources to make great products. So, in 2023 we are going to continue to focus on our process as well as enjoy our new pot still when it arrives later in the year. We are also going to have a bit of an experiment with higher-ester rums. This style is new to the Australian consumer and it will be a pleasant addition to our rum portfolio in the future, so that is our next goal. 

It will be a big year for Kalki Moon, rolling out the first of our Premium Pure Single Rums which most people in the region have been waiting close to six years for, so it’s been a long time coming. 

We are not an enormous volume Rum Distillery, it’s all Premium Small Batch, so hopefully, we can get that all out and get some recognition for those products. 

TRL: Plans you have when you leave the rum industry

I don’t have any plans on leaving as the company is just at the start of our rum journey, and I have a lot of taste testing to do in the future. Being the owner of the company comes with its advantages, so hopefully, in the future, I’ll be able to step back from the production area of the business and focus on the administration area, and hopefully find some extra time to play a bit more golf!

TRL: Why is the role of the bartender important in the rum industry

They do have importance in presentation and make that drink taste good, but also a bit of brand awareness and education of what they are serving. Educating the bartender is so important on so many levels to support the product and pass on that knowledge to the consumer. 

TRL: What is your advice for new generations in the rum industry?

Source your molasses early, especially in Australia. Local producers are very passionate about using Australian-made ingredients. What has been clear in the past decade is that the sugar industry is in decline across Australia, with a lot of mills closing. So, it has been imperative to secure the molasses and try to get a good grade molasses and work with the rum community by listening and learning. 

TRL: How can people learn more about you? Website? Social media page? They can pay a visit to our distillery; I am usually there 6 days per week or visit our Facebook and Instagram pages or website www.kalkimoon.com