New Zealand Whiskey

With such a large Scottish and Irish immigrant population arriving on New Zealand shores it is only logical that many of them brought their distilling skills with them. As many did at home, illegal stills were soon a feature of the landscape and remained so up  to and during the 20th century.

During the 1970's two brews distilled in Dunedin appeared. One was known as, 45 SOUTH and the other WILSONS. Of the two Wilsons continued ultimatley being part owned by Scotland based 'concerns'. Due to a large order not being paid for after a massive increase in production to accommodate, the distillery ceased production and the finished product was placed in a bonded hanger at Dunedin airport. Over the next 15 years this has been sold through local distribution and only now is stock becoming an issue. I think the people behind the following article saw the 'drought' coming and have decided to take up where Wilsons used to be.

We wait to see if the current owners of the Wilsons brand start production again as this writer believes they have been surprised at popularity of their brew! 

Whiskey makers brewing up a storm


New Zealand's only whiskey distillery, the Timaru-based Southern Distilling Company, is expanding production and is about to release two new lines including the usually illegal Irish moonshine Poitin.

The distillery has also developed a whiskey liqueur, The Southerner, sweetened with manuka honey.

The young distillery is known for producing Hokonui Whiskey based on the recipe for the Southland moonshine.

The owners, Malcolm Willmott and Peter Wheeler, are optimistic about the distillery's future and are expecting to soon be producing 50,000 litres a year and the firm has employed a second person to work in the distillery.

Mr Willmott said distilling poitin fitted in with moonshine whiskey as the type of niche spirit the distillers can produce.

Poitin, pronounced posheen, is a fiery white spirit distilled illicitly in Ireland for centuries.

It is still sold illegally and the Irish moonshine is sometimes sweetened with a little treacle. This will be the style produced by the distillery based in south Timaru.

Some of the distillation of Hokonui Moonshine is moving to Gore in keeping with the history of the drink. However, Mr Willmott said the Timaru distillery would stay the headquarters for the business.

The distillery has been listed in the 2006 International Malt Whisky Directory.

Mr Wheeler said the distillery's whiskey, both single malt and blended was selling well throughout the country. The fact the whiskey had been noticed by such an influential publication was a "huge feather in the cap" for the small batch-brew distillery, he said.

Mr Willmott said Poitin would be released for St Patrick's day and he believed the distillery was the only legal producer of the drink.







SLAINTE: Timaru distiller Malcolm Willmott with the soon-to-be-released poitin which is traditionally an illicitly brewed Irish spirit.
Timaru Herald