Spike’s still becomes self sufficient


KUNUNURRA Ord Valley grower Spike Dessert has more than 40 years experience in the seed industry.


 Not to mention the oldest continuously operating distillery in WA.


And the demise of sugarcane in the valley last November has done little to slow him down.
Mr Dessert already has plans in motion to build his own nano-mill.


 “Not only will we be planting our own mini crop of sugarcane in April, but we are looking to start building our own sugar mill next year,” Mr Dessert said.
“It is going to be fun – not a mini, not a micro, but a nano sugar mill to process just four hectares of cane,” he said.


 “We are not interested in making refined sugar, just sugar syrup, and in turn molasses – a key ingredient for our rum.”


 To add to the aesthetics, Mr Dessert will be using a flat pan evaporator, invented 200 years ago.


 “It is not that I am a great engineer, all the technology is on the Internet,” he said.
“Anybody thinking about expanding anything agriculturally only needs to look at the Agricultural Department’s library – it is amazing.
“It is a very efficient system, all you have to do is figure out what you want and they can source things for you.”


 Originally from Colorado River in California, Spike and his wife Kae made the long trek to Kununurra in 1972 to pursue a seed business with a family corporation.
After crisscrossing the globe a few times, the Desserts finally established their farm in the heart of the Ord Irrigation Area in 1986.


 And then wanting to expand their Dessert Seed Co. business, they decided to tack on a small pot distillery and make corn whisky.


 But it took a prolonged three years before the State Government would grant permits, and building only began in 1996.
Then with news of a future sugar mill in Kununurra, the Desserts changed course and set their sights on rum.


 “A perfect move I think,” Mr Dessert said.
“There is no doubting we are in a rum climate; for both drinking and making.”


 Finally in 1999 the distillery was up and running and brought with it the birth of The Hoochery – making rum with molasses supplied by Kununurra’s only sugar mill.


 However, with the mill’s closure last year, and estimates remaining molasses will run out next year, Mr Dessert is planning ahead by storing enough to last him until May 2010.
“That should provide us with sufficient molasses until our little sugar mill makes enough to keep the rum flowing,” he said.


 Mr Dessert was negotiating with the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley and hoped to begin building next year March.


With more than nine products to purchase as well as their famous rum cake and in-house drinking – The Hoochery has been a hit with tourists and Kununurra residents from the beginning.
It is currently capable of producing 50,000 bottles of Ord River Rum per year.


 “We do harvest fruit and seeds – but instead of having a fruit stand we have a Hoochery,” Mr Dessert said.  



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