‘Water of life’ coming to Reefton
West Coast start-up Reefton Distilling Co. is about to open their new distillery right in the heart of historic Reefton. With a successful capital raise completed in March 2018, Reefton Distilling Co. are preparing to open the doors of their new distillery, right in the heart of the historic West Coast town. The working distillery, […]
West Coast start-up Reefton Distilling Co. is about to open their new distillery right in the heart of historic Reefton.
With a successful capital raise completed in March 2018, Reefton Distilling Co. are preparing to open the doors of their new distillery, right in the heart of the historic West Coast town.
The working distillery, retail outlet and tasting bar has been set up in one of Reefton’s original buildings, built in 1860. Number 10 Smith Street will now provide a comfortable home for the distillery team during their first year of operation, and offer a fitting place to welcome visitors, to what will become one of Reefton’s main tourist attractions.
Bringing the ‘water of life’ (as whisky is oft described) to the town is the initiative of Reefton Distilling Co.’s Managing Director, Patsy Bass – to help bring visitors and job opportunities to this particular part of the region.
Patsy was born in Reefton and lived on the site of the former Westland Brewery. She remembered the simplicity of life on the West Coast and when fate allowed, Patsy and her husband Shane, returned to live in the town. Her love of the region has been a constant, and she began to look for ways that she could contribute to the revitalisation of her home town.
“There is something about the spirit of the Coast and its people, they have always had belief in themselves, a can-do attitude and they are not afraid to get behind a new idea. Reefton was an entrepreneurial and prosperous place in its early days, and we plan to add the success story of Reefton Distilling Co. to the history books.”
Creating jobs for Reefton
Flow-on economic benefits are already being realised, with supply contracts with growers, various trades, consultants, and artists: including builders, electricians, material suppliers, painters, photographers, signwriters and an artisan potter.
“The foot traffic and interest to date has been very positive, with locals and visitors stopping by daily to chat, ask questions and to look at George, our traditional 1800 litre copper pot still” says Patsy. ‘George’ is affectionately named after legendary gold prospector George Fairweather Moonlight – the first to discover Moonlight Creek, an area famed for some of the largest gold nuggets ever found in New Zealand – and will be commissioned at the latter part of 2019 when the company begins production of barrel matured New Zealand whiskies.
Reefton Distilling Co. are utilising one of the region’s most abundant resources – copious rainfall – to produce a range of premium spirits including Gin, Liqueurs and Whisky (both Bourbon style and a single malt) using locally sourced ingredients (water, grains, botanicals and aromatics) complemented by a world-class brand which draws on the purity and ruggedness of the West Coast.
Having taken up their lease on 1 August, the company have completed the installation of their 380-litre column still and are now ready to begin production of the Little Biddy® Gin range and their range of Reefton Distilling Co. Liqueurs.
Once each spirit is created, it needs time to settle before bottling, this crucial waiting period allows the distillery to ensure that each spirit has hit the perfect note. As soon as this stage has been reached, the doors will be opened, and visitors will be able to experience this gutsy new West Coast business first hand.
Such is the demand for their range of products, Reefton Distilling Co. already have a healthy pre-order book, and Patsy is upbeat about the growing awareness of their product range. “Interest in our first limited release whisky has been enormous, and this is all before we have even announced any details, apart from a few photos on social media.”
However, all of that is about to change as the company prepares for the launch of their new website www.reeftondistillingco.com later this month, which will allow customers to learn more about the distillery, purchase products and book experiences ahead of their visit.
New visitor experience
As well as accommodating the working distillery, the Smith Street premises also houses a retail outlet and tasting bar. Creating a modern tradition in an age-old industry Reefton Distilling Co. have drawn on local characters of old to build their brands and these early pioneers’ stories will form a part of the visitor experience.
The Little Biddy® Gin range pays homage to Bridget Goodwin (1813-1899), also known as ‘Little Biddy’ or ‘Biddy of the Buller’. She defined the word ‘rebel’, says Patsy, and was a well-known whisky and gin drinking, smoking, four-foot-tall female gold prospector.
“Having local staff means that every member of our team not only understands the importance of our pristine water sources and our use of local ingredients but is also inspired to provide visitors with a truly unique West Coast experience,” says Patsy.
“Visitors will leave not only having sampled our products, but also having experienced a slice of Reefton’s rich history of adventure, innovation, and gold. They will understand what makes Reefton the perfect place for us to make these untamed spirits.”
Widespread investor support
The Reefton Distilling Co. crowdfunding equity offer raised $1.385m. Funds from the capital raise have been used for the distillery fit out, equipment, staff and working capital.
Individual investors are made up mostly of local people from the Reefton and West Coast community, with several larger investors who are actively involved in supporting the business.
Reefton Distilling Co. will open to visitors this spring, with distillery tours, cellar door and retail shop open to visitors Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am – 4.00pm.
Their range of gins and liqueurs will be available via their cellar door, through selected liquor outlets and licensed premises nationwide, and via their website www.reeftondistillingco.com.