Whisky Distilleries of New Zealand

New Zealand whisky distilleries

Name Country Status Type
Cardrona New Zealand Active Malt
Willowbank New Zealand Lost Malt

The lion’s share of New Zealand’s whisky making tradition goes back to the Willowbank Distillery in Dunedin, which was founded in 1969. Willowbank sold their first whisky in 1974, were acquired by Seagram’s in 1991, and then sold to Fosters who halted production in 1997. The distillery was closed for good in 1997 and the stills were sent to the Fiji Islands being sold for the production of rum.

The last 433 barrels were then bought by the New Zealand Whisky Company (NZWC) and are now sold under the names ‘Milford’ (single malt) and ‘Prestons’ (blend). There are also a number of other product names that infrequently find their way to Europe. From 1997 no whisky was produced in New Zealand until the Thomson Whisky Distillery was founded in 2014 by the NZWC team.

Other than Willowbank there were actually only two other distilleries;

  • Southern Distillers a boutique distillery in Timaru, South Canterbury responsible for The MacKenzie and The Coaster brands.
  • Southern Grain Spirits (Kaiapoi distillery) made by brewer turned distiller John Fitzpatrick who began to lay down whisky in 1996 and which he sells directly from his own website