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Reefton Distilling Co. fast tracks plans for expansion

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

West Coast business Reefton Distilling Co. opened the doors to their new distillery in Mid-October 2018, launching premium batch distilled spirits, including their Little Biddy Gin range. Reefton Distilling Co. seasonal fruit Liqueurs were soon added to the mix, shortly followed by their Wild Rain Vodka, all made on-site in an historic building at 10 Smith Street, Reefton.

Smith Street is home to the working distillery, cellar door and tasting bar, from here the company offers a range of tours and tastings. Allowing visitors to share in the rich history behind the crafting of their uniquely New Zealand products has added to their story, and the visitor book is already filled with accolades from travellers from all over the globe.

With high demand for their products nationally and plans to commence an export drive, the business has quickly outgrown their current space and recently unveiled plans for expansion.

Funding Expansion

With an Investment Offer opening to the public on 11th February, the company quickly reached their minimum target ($2m) and went on to achieve the upper end of the maximum target ($3.2m) at the offer close on Monday 2nd March.

Investors are made up of up of both larger wholesale investors and private individuals from all around New Zealand and some from further afield. Along with making a financial investment, many have also made an emotional connection with the company and its products, with personal messages of support accompanying funds.

Reefton Distilling Co. Founder and Managing Director Patsy Bass said, "The messages of support that have accompanied investments have been extremely encouraging. The West Coast has embraced us, and it seems most of New Zealand is with us.

We have tourists from all regions of New Zealand coming to Reefton specifically to visit Reefton Distilling Co., and an increasing number of international visitors are contacting us to include a visit in their travel plans."

Bass went on to add, "Funds from this raise will be used to purchase land, buildings and fit out costs to expand our production capacity so that we can meet growing demand, and to invest in the production of our first premium single malt whisky, Moonlight Creek. " Capital will also be used to employ additional staff and continue investment is branding, sales and marketing to support growth.

Whisky in the bottle

The proposal for the new premises will meet the immediate and longer-term needs of future growth including supplementary infrastructure such as; mechanical labelling equipment, bonded stores to house products during maturation, and additional complimentary initiatives that are expected to create further jobs over time.

This larger site will also see the commissioning of the company’s first traditional copper pot still, affectionately named ‘George’, after legendary gold prospector George Fairweather Moonlight. George will be used to strip the wash (a hop-less beer) which will then be further distilled through a smaller spirit still before resting in a cask to create their Moonlight Creek Whisky.

Distiller Nick Secker, a science graduate from Otago University, manages production and new recipe development of Reefton Distilling Co.’s award-winning products. Nick cut his UK O.E. short to return to join Reefton Distilling Co. in 2018, having spent time in London and Scotland visiting household distillery names such as Glenfiddich and Dewar’s, where he gained valuable experience that has been put to work back at home.

Patsy Bass said that Nick’s botanical knowledge and hands on experience at the distillery sees him well placed in this role. "Having a good understanding of recipe development and the importance of the right ingredients, including our pure West Coast water sources will, we believe, add an unmatched depth of flavour that will truly set our whiskies apart." Bass went on to add that having the best in the Australasian Spirits Industry offer up their assistance and knowledge had also reinforced that they are ready to move into whisky production.

The Reefton Distilling Co. tasting panel, who will deem each batch ready to bottle when it meets pre-determined flavour profiles, will be headed by renowned Whisky Expert Michael Fraser Milne, who last April received the distinguished honour of Master of the Quaich bestowed by the international society ‘The Keepers of the Quaich-’.

By using a range of casks from 20L to 200L it is anticipated that Reefton Distilling Co.’s first single malt whisky will be on the shelves in 2023.

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