As our taste for great local craft beverages continues to develop, we would hardly expect to find a young osteopath and senior marketing manager to be behind the bottle of one of our new favourites.
But sure enough, bursting with passion and grateful for the cards they’ve been dealt, trailblazers Colby Kitchin and Shane Capron have surprised even the most committed cider lovers with their new Lucky Duck brand. Sixteen months of research and one Tour de France later, an amalgamation of memorable branding and premium tasting apple cider was born. Founders and brand mascots Kitchin and Capron are proud to announce that there will be no end to the symbolic gesture of just how involved and committed they are to their product. We chat with Kitchin about the making of Lucky Duck.
You both have established professional careers. How on Earth did life and luck steer you in the direction of producing your own artisan apple cider?
It was a Friday night, really humid and pouring with rain. We grabbed a cider in the city after work (most people like to think we had more than just one) and that was when Shane turned around and simply said that he wanted to make his own cider. The next day, we woke up and went back to our normal lives, but then a few weeks later, Shane turned around again and said look, “I really want to give this a go – I don’t want to die wondering”.
That Christmas, mum gifted Shane a palate training course, which we both attended and where we met Tom, a young enthusiastic wine maker. It was such a fluke meeting him, and without his help we probably wouldn’t have Lucky Duck Cider today! He then sent us to a facility where we could produce. Other than that, it was also largely about fulfilling a gap we saw in the industry. We liked cider, but we were yet to find exactly what we had wanted from cider. There was a lot of potential to do new and different things.
The name Lucky Duck is cheeky and very memorable. Explain the concept and philosophy behind your branding?
We both came to the name organically. When we said “Lucky Duck”, it just felt right, and it has stuck ever since. As for branding, we don’t have our hands on a Fosters marketing budget…soinstead we look for kooky, distinctive and impressionable ways to leave a memory.
As for the branding, we were in France for a friend’s wedding at the same time Le Tour de France was on. Being fans of the event from a young age, I hoped to catch a leg of the race live, then suddenly thought, what better thing to do for Lucky Duck than get dressed up and run in front of the Tour de France riders? Sure enough, when we landed in Paris, managed to find a ducks head in a costume shop and painted it. The next day I was running and we were on the SBS tour highlights for the next week.
It’s hard to believe you both work from nine to five every day. How do you manage to fit Lucky Duck into your professional lives?
We don’t really have a life outside of cider these days. We get home from work, put dinner on and then pick up our laptops and deal with Lucky Duck correspondence and orders. We then spend our weekends at shows and tastings. I’m not sure why I agreed to the whole thing (laughs), but we’re having so much fun and learning a lot.
Over the last five or so years, cider has worked its way to the front line of pub culture. What are your thoughts on the development of the industry and how do you think boutique cider competes with an increasingly large boutique beer industry?
People probably thought it was going to be a bit of a fad. And I think it’s lasted a lot longer than expected, mostly because there are a lot of great quality ciders out there that people are happy to drink throughout the year now, not just during summer.
Nowadays, it’s acceptable for a generation of kids to have a cider in their hand. Historically, and certainly for those over 30 years old, it might have once been questionable as to why you weren’t drinking a beer. The cider industry today is what craft beer was five or 10 years ago in Melbourne. We turn up to festivals and you start to find people who really know their ciders; there’s certainly an increasing appreciation for the complexities of the beverage, like there is for craft beer.
Lucky Duck is made from Braeburn apples that originate in New Zealand. Are the apples the secret behind making a premium tasting cider, or is the proof in the production method?
It’s all about the quality ingredients going in. With cider there are only a very limited number of levers to play with. So the bitter and sharp notes of the Braeburn apples combined with the ale yeast we use create a great unique flavour.
Lastly, Lucky Duck hasn’t even celebrated its second birthday yet and it has already built a solid reputation across Melbourne. What can we expect from Lucky Duck in the coming year?
We are about to launch our ‘Ducktails’, which are unique cocktails that have been designed by mixologist Sarah Miller using Lucky Duck Cider. We are currently working with three recipes, one of which contains ingredients like basil and cassis. We would really like to encourage bars to adopt the Ducktails, as we want to see people enjoying Lucky Duck in different ways.
• 30ml gin
• 15ml cassis
• 20ml lime
• 8 fresh basil leaves
• crushed ice
• Lucky Duck Apple Cider
Combine gin, basil, lime and 4 cubes of ice in shaker and shake well. Double strain into a 375ml highball glass, add crushed ice and top with Lucky Duck Cider. Finish by bleeding cassis through the drink and garnish with extra basil.
Lucky Duck Cider is currently available for enjoyment at Middle Park Hotel.