Loaded Barrel Distillery | Missfire Gin
WRITTEN BY BRITNEY KIDD & URSULA FITHALL
ABOUT LOADED BARREL DISTILLERY
As a competitive pistol shooter with a background in providing military tactical hardware to the Australian Army, Bob Wilhelm didn’t lead the world’s most conventional pathway towards distillation. Don’t let that deter you though; Loaded Barrel Distillery was created off the back of Bob’s lifelong love affair with good food and spirits. It is a testament to his willingness to combine passion and enjoyment with building a business to ultimately leave behind a legacy that his family can carry well into the future.
Bob had always been an enthusiastic craft brewer (and we’ve heard he makes a very good beer!). His days spent brewing led to an eagerness to experiment further and raise the bar by creating beverages with a point of difference. Over time, he developed a thirst to venture further into the alcohol game, and Bob spent years learning and ultimately mastering the art of spirit distillation. What began as passion for whisky production eventually evolved into production of both rum and of course, gin. Although Bob has been a big part of the evolution of Loaded Barrel, it is very much a family affair.
Loaded Barrel pride themselves on being fiercely independent. When their distilling dreams came to light, Bob’s partner, Sue, put her 25 years of Operations Management experience to work alongside Bob to make those dreams a reality. They had always wanted the business to be something that the family could enjoy for years to come, so enlisted those closest to them to join the team. Their daughter, Nikita, is a content creator; their nephew, Lewis, learnt the craft of distilling under Bob’s guidance while studying Entrepreneurship; their other nephew, Max, brought his bartending experience and an incredible passion for photography and design to the team; Max’s partner, Kiran, left the tourism and hospitality industry to take up a role in account management, logistics and distribution, and jumped at the chance to work with Bob and the family. Kiran has been our amazing point of contact and has been instrumental in helping us bring their Missfire Gin to you all – thanks Kiran!
The name Loaded Barrel Distillery is an ode to Bob and Sue’s love of pistol shooting – both have been pistol shooters since their mid-twenties and have travelled the world representing Australia in competitions. It is a name that is both catchy and unique to their story, and the name felt perfectly fitting as soon as Bob came up with it.
The family have recently acquired extra space next to their distillery in Rowville VIC, and are currently in the process of building a Distillery Door where guests will be able to visit come late 2023. You’ll be able to see their stills, Big Ben Stiller (yes there’s a story behind that) and Little Miss Lilly in action, sample their range of whisky, gin and rum and maybe even blend some of your own. Their Distillery Door will, of course, be managed by the family so someone will always be around for a chat!
About Missfire Gin
Although Loaded Barrel started off as predominantly a whisky distillery, the family are big gin drinkers, so they were compelled to create the perfect gin for themselves to enjoy as well. Travels throughout Vietnam and Cambodia sparked a fire in Sue and ultimately became the inspiration for their incredible Missfire Gin. While cruising down the Mekong River and enjoying a few cocktails on the top deck, they were struck by the magnificent red, yellow and orange colours that filled the sky at sunset. It inspired them to come home and create a perfect mix of tropical flavours that Australia is so well known for.
Sue had a clear vision of the gin and knew what flavours she was looking for. Nothing is ever quite so simple though, and it took the Loaded Barrel team some time to find the perfect combination of botanicals that worked well together. To complicate things further, Sue also set out to create a gin that would convert those who don’t typically reach for gin.
Perfecting the recipe was an arduous process, with over thirty botanicals covering the family’s kitchen bench for nearly two months. Every weekend without fail, Bob and Sue, occasionally joined by friends, would blend, taste test and then start all over again. It was well into week 8 when Sue stumbled on the winning recipe for the gin she had envisioned.
Sue made note of every botanical they’d included and handed it over to Bob – it was his time to shine! With his distilling background, it was his job to balance the botanicals, scale the recipe and ultimately take the drinker to a glorious sunset on the Mekong River.
While Bob was busy meticulously scaling the recipe, Max was given the freedom to create a bright and punchy bottle design. Once they’d decided on the name Missfire, the design clicked in Max’s mind – Miss Fire – a woman, bright and fierce. Maintaining the trend of keeping it in the family, Max even asked Kiran to be his model when designing the label. The final product is an incredibly fresh contemporary gin with mango and pineapple shining through, in a gorgeous eye-catching bottle. It’s delicious and, unsurprisingly, has reportedly now converted many a non-gin-drinker!
Other Products in the Range
We love Loaded Barrel’s Missfire Gin and we’re incredibly excited to hear that the family is busy developing their next two gin releases (we’ve heard whispers of juniper, rock salt and beeswax). The process remains the same; the kitchen bench is still used as the taste testing area for family and friends, and it sounds like they’re making some good progress! Rum is also on the horizon and is currently maturing in ex-shiraz barrels as you’re reading this. The plan is that it’ll form the base for a botanical rum (think rum made in a similar way as gin!).
Of course, it wouldn’t be Loaded Barrel if we didn’t mention their whisky. It’s the true backbone of their distillery and something they’ve been working on for a few years. Using a mix of traditional and modern production techniques, they mash and distil everything inhouse to produce single malt, wheat malt and oat malt whisky. The team is very excited to soon be releasing their very first whisky – a rye malt whisky that has been matured in virgin Serbian Oak for 18 months and transferred to ex-Starward octaves that were seasoned with port and orange peel and cold smoked with applewood chips for a further 9 months. With such a unique seasoning method, we cannot wait to join the Loaded Barrel team for a little tipple!
Gin type – Australian Contemporary
Appearance – Clear, bright
Botanicals – Juniper, tropical mango, pineapple, coriander, rose petals, native lemon myrtle, orris root
Aroma – Floral, tropical, hint of lemonade
Palate – Tropical mango and pineapple forward with a touch of lemon myrtle
Finish – Fresh on the palate for easy drinking