The worldwide craft beer phenomenon has paved the way for craft spirits.
With a boom in premium products overseas, from Japanese whiskies to British gins, trailblazing Kiwi distillers are taking inspiration from the land, forging alcohol with ingredients such as manuka and homegrown malted barley – creating a taste that is uniquely New Zealand.
We explore some of the country’s best multi-award winning producers to discover an industry full of passion, innovation and desire to bring locally forged artisan spirits to the global stage.
Transatlantic romance brought Bostonian Ben and Briton Sarah Bonoma to New Zealand. After a year of New York-London commutes took their toll, the couple relocated to New Zealand and officially founded the Dancing Sands Distillery in Takaka in Golden Bay, late in 2016.
Producing vodka alongside award-winning gin and white rum, the Bonomas are motivated by both the creative nature of the industry and the land itself.
“I am always looking at what [the craft beer movement] are doing and have accomplished, and bringing those lessons over to spirits: challenge the norm, be weird and creative, care and quality above profit, and love what you do.”
Mixing tradition with bold modern-day innovation, boundary-breaking recipes – such as gin without any citrus – are generated in beautiful hand-made German copper stills imported in 1981.
As for predicting how the trend towards artisan spirits will play out, Ben says there are already two front-runners.