Turning pure West Coast rainwater into gin

"We felt a sense of community here beyond anything we’d experienced before."

Patsy Bass

Reefton Distilling Co.

Reefton Distilling Co. has opened in one of Reefton’s original buildings which has been carefully restored to accommodate their working distillery, tasting bar and retail store.

They are inspired to provide you with a truly unique West Coast experience; as they share the story behind the crafting of their local botanical gins, fruit liqueurs, vodka and whiskies.

Managing director of Reefton Distilling Co. Patsy Bass answers some questions:

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Q. Why did you decide to move to Reefton?

I'm from Reefton, although lived most of my life in Christchurch. We’ve had a holiday home on the West Coast for the last 20 years and had got to the stage where we no longer wanted to head back to Christchurch after enjoying increasingly longer stays in Reefton. We started to wonder what it would be like if we lived here, and our Christchurch home became the bach.

We felt a sense of community here beyond anything we’d experienced before, so we began brainstorming ideas that would create jobs and a tourist attraction, and also keep us busy – Reefton Distilling Co. was the result.

Q. What are the advantages of having a business on the West Coast?

The enormous support from the locals who have rallied around us and done anything they can to help us get started. West Coasters are fiercely proud of their region and were thrilled to hear a new business was coming to town.

They’re also hugely resourceful and handy – whatever skillset we need, there’s someone in town that can do it. Stainless steel welder, master potter, water prospector, botanist, cinematographer – got it, got it, got it, got it, got it.

Being so small, direct relationships are easily made. We had tremendous support from the Buller District Mayor Garry Howard, and the Council – they were real enablers.

We have so much fascinating history here, which we drew on to build our product brands – Little Biddy Gin; Moonlight Creek Whisky; Wild Rain Vodka.

The rain, which is some of the purest water on earth is a key part of our premium spirits.

Q. What are the advantages of living on the West Coast?

The people – they’re genuine, friendly, incredibly optimistic and hardworking.

The rain – it’s invigorating and gives us the lush, green rainforest and pristine drinking water.

The geography – this region is spectacularly beautiful, unpopulated and diverse.

Our mountain biking and trout fishing is some of the best in New Zealand - if not the world.

Home ownership is still attainable; you get to know everybody and crime is low (there’s an uproar if a feisty teen tips out a hanging flower basket on a Saturday night).


Did I mention the whitebait!


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