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Water of Life – Kiwi Spirits’ Watui Whiskey and Laceys Hill Gin

While New Zealand has not exactly been overrepresented in this series, I have yet to come across a distillery from across the pond that does not blow my mind with new, never done before ways of creating exciting whiskey variations.

Case in point: Kiwi Spirits Distillery, a family-owned entity focusing their efforts on the creation of great tastes and handcrafting their drops from homegrown ingredients. With their family history deeply engrained in decades of distilling excellence, their specialty lies in utilizing what the Golden Bay region has to offer – an area they use for the cultivation of their own orchards and gardens to produce the ingredients that serves as the foundation for their idiosyncratic experimental approach.

An example par excellence for Kiwi Spirits’ accomplishments in the more experimental realm of spirits creation is their unique Waitui Whiskey.

Following the aged, tested and tried recipes that have been refined by monasteries and the monks inhabitating them, the honey character is imbued to the spirit after a maturation period of eight years spent in Manuka honey mead barrels, the result is an idiosyncratic tour de force in a flavourful, small batch honey New Zealand malted barley whiskey.

Needless to say, the result is a way to easy to drink, more-ish and finely balanced drop based on the water of the local Te Waikoropupu.

On the nose, a subtle smokiness punctures dominant manuka honey and butterscotch notes, which rest on a backbone of oak maltiness. What then excites the palate is a delightful manuka warming honey flavoured, woody nuttiness that inspires one to chew on the drop.

A definitely unique expression that hits the spot in so many places that it makes me very curious to try Kiwi Spirits’ other spirits, which curiously not only include gins and liqueurs but a blue agave tequilana spirit.

Once travel restrictions allow, a visit to Kiwi Spirits’ distillery will become mandatory.

Let’s revert to gin and the North-Eastern region of terra australis:

Laceys Hill Distilling Co. is based not too far from Brisbane, Queensland, an area that proves to be fertile ground when it comes to new, promising distilleries.

Artisanal and handcrafted in nature, ever since its inception in 2018, Lacey’s Hill has been dedicated to provenance and incorporating the local flavours the Laceys Creek area provides in an authentic manner, specifically the native botanicals.

Being in control of each facet of the distillation process is an integral part of Laceys Hill approach, which starts with the fermentation and production of their own base spirit and being at the micro end of the distillery spectrum, they ensure that each of the limited batches they take to markets meets their self-imposed high quality standards.

My first exposure to Laceys Hills was via their award winning Lemon Myrtle Dry gin – quite a telling name as it is made from lemon myrtle grown on their own property.

With a mouthfeel that gives creaminess a new dimension, with this expression Laceys Hill’s focus is firmly set on traditional clean gins and with the excellence they achieve, a myriad of complex and subtle flavour nuances are to be explored. A nice entry point to their portfolio.

The Moreton Sunrise gin is another expression, which is an ode to the Moreton Bay area, with local fig berries and rose petals used in it resulting in a nice, nuanceful floral bouquet of flavours.

The fact that it is visually appealing when to colour changes from blue to pink due to the infusion with butterfly pea flower once tonic is added, only contributes to the appealing of this light yet flavourful drop.

Given the quality of Laceys Hill’s gin expressions, I can only hope that we will see them venture into whiskey territory soon.


images from company websites

T • July 2, 2021

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