New Zealand distillery brings its premium spirits to the UK

Cardrona Distillery, a New Zealand family-run venture, is launching its super-premium range of spirits into the UK.

The producer, which is based in the Cardrona Valley in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, has four spirits to offer the UK market as part of its aim of putting the country on the world premium spirits map. It has already secured listings with select Waitrose stores.

The range of hand-crafted drinks include The Reid Single Malt Vodka; Rose Rabbit Liqueur (available in two flavours); The Cardona Single Malt Whisky ‘Just Hatched’; and The Source Gin.

The company was founded in 2015 by husband and wife team Desiree and Ash Whitaker. It is 100% family-owned and the distillery combines a single malt base spirit, made from malted barley, yeast and Alpine water sourced from the heart of Cardrona, with fresh seasonal ingredients. This lends a unique flavour profile, according to the producer.

The Reid vodka (rsp: £55) is crafted exclusively from malted barley, resulting in “a decadently rich spirit layered with character”. On the nose it has aromas of pear drops, toffee and biscuits.

The Source Gin (rsp: £56) has won awards at global competitions. It is made from locally foraged rosehip, juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, lemon and orange zest, vapour-distilled into its Single Malt Spirit. The spirit clouds with dilution or when cold because the distillery has chosen not to chill-filter, in order to deliver a fuller flavour and character.

Rose Rabbit Liqueurs (rsp £57 for 70cl), in flavours of orange and elderflower, are hand-made from New Zealand orange peel macerated in un-aged Single Malt Spirit, and from wild Central Otago Elderflower.

The whisky (rsp: £75) is a natural cask strength bottling – made from a blend of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks - marking the fact it has reached three years old.

Desiree Whitaker, who heads up the distillery team, said: “Launching our super premium range of spirits in the UK is a huge honour for us.  Much of what I know about spirits I learnt in the UK, and Cardrona’s style owes a lot to the patience and methodology of British producers. However, I think Cardrona’s Kiwi uniqueness has a lot to offer the market and we’ve really focused on rekindling the distilling traditions of New Zealand, and also embracing the time and place in which our spirits are made.”

Ash Whitaker, who heads up sales and distribution for Cardona Distillery, said: “It’s been an incredible journey to date and this marks the next step in our journey.  We won our first accolade, a gold at the New York Wine and Spirits Awards, for our gin in 2016 – only about 12 months after we opened the doors on our new distillery building, and 18 months from when we laid down the first cask. Growing a business while raising our two young children has been a challenge, but we are loving it.  It’s hugely rewarding to now be stocked in Waitrose and Fenwick and we are currently in talks with other premium retailers in the UK.”

Related articles: