Innovation has become the norm when it comes to crafting gin across the country. Meet the local distilleries putting unique ideas in the spotlight.
Limited Label offers a novel keepsake for art collectors, creating limited-release gins featuring specially-commissioned works by local artists. Intended as a new creative platform for artists, 10 per cent of royalties from the sale of each bottle will go back to the artists. For their first 300-bottle release, they collaborated with Wellington-based contemporary artist Ash Sisson, AKA ‘Chimp’ for a piece titled ‘Moment’. Their debut gin features eight flavour hallmarks, including angelica and coriander aromatics, bold juniper, sultry chamomile and a subtle allusion to grapefruit.
Since opening in 2016, Golden Bay-based distillery Dancing Sands has become one of New Zealand’s most awarded distilleries, carving out a reputation for their inventive flavours. Founders Sarah and Ben Bonoma have crafted gins such as sauvignon blanc, saffron, chocolate and even wasabi. “We approached recipe development with a view to try and create gins that we thought would taste nice. That’s developed over time to a real focus on innovation and not being constrained by traditions,” says Sarah.
When Giesen Group’s General Manager, Kyle Skene, first tasted leftover alcohol removed from Giesen’s 0% New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, it planted the seed for a new idea. Why not turn it into a gin, he thought. Launched in October 2021, Strange Nature is an aromatic, fruit, zesty and herbaceous gin with a provenance story that goes back to the grape.
It’s a one-woman operation at Island Gin, an off-the-grid distillery located on Great Barrier Island, founded by Andi Ross. Island Gin crafts two signature varieties, an original and navy strength, along with seasonal, small-run batches with ingredients sourced from the island or sustainable by-products from around New Zealand. While small, Island Gin is making its mark both locally and internationally, picking up an innovation award at the NZ Spirits Awards, silver and bronze at the International Wine and Spirits Competition and first place in this year’s World Brand Design Awards for their sustainable kina-inspired bottle.
Reefton Distilling Co
The makers at Reefton Distilling Co are inspired by the rugged wilderness of the West Coast when it comes to crafting their unique gins. The Little Biddy Gin Classic has an aromatic bite, with native rimu, tarata, horopito and toatoa.
Every now and then a gin spirit comes along that blows the competition out of the water. One such gin is Ignus Fatuus. Distilled and blended at the Hastings Distillers in Hawke’s Bay, this limited-edition gin, triple distilled and infused with kauri gum, juniper, kawakawa fruit and black cardamon, and every ingredient is organic and certified bio-gro.
Read our full feature on innovative Kiwi gin-makers in STYLE Summer 22 – on sale now.