Cardrona Distillery

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Monday9:30 am – 5:00 pm.

Tuesday9:30 am – 5:00 pm.

Wednesday9:30 am – 5:00 pm.

Thursday9:30 am – 5:00 pm.

Friday9:30 am – 5:00 pm.

Saturday9:30 am – 5:00 pm.

Sunday9:30 am – 5:00 pm.

2125 Cardrona Valley Road, Wanaka

03-443 1393

Cardrona Distillery may be a small batch operation, but it’s one that runs like clockwork thanks to the efforts of its clever and enthusiastic team who with founder Desiree Whitaker’s careful guidance, mill, mash, ferment and distil the artisan spirits, and who are then collaboratively in charge of labelling of bottles, running the tours and tending the beautiful grounds. Come for a tour and a tasting session, and set eyes on the beautiful copper stills that are responsible for turning grain into spirit - Single Malt Vodka, award-winning Rosehip Gin and deliciously powerful New Zealand Orange Liqueur.
 
No expense has been spared, with bespoke distillery equipment imported from Scotland and Germany. Aptly named due to their alternatively fast and furious, or soft and slow distilling, ‘Roaring Meg’ and ‘Gentle Annie’ are the glowing copper round-bellied stills that do the brunt of the work on level two of this workspace.
 
Entering the cool, dark storage room where The Cardrona Single Malt Whisky lies sleeping as it begins its ten years of maturing, feels almost like entering a hushed church, and the family owners admit to having used it as a wedding venue once, albeit a very tiny one. The casks used for the freshly distilled spirit have all come a long way from home to be in Cardrona Valley, and shipped from the USA and Spain, they were previously used for storing bourbon and sherry respectively, as is the tradition for making Single Malt Whisky. Desiree and Ash will tell you it’s important to use these ‘seasoned’ casks, as it means the strong wood flavour, for which bourbon particularly is known, has been stripped from the oak, leaving the beautiful soft sugars and delicate aromas, the hallmarks of well-made Single Malt.
 
The tasting room follows suit in this pursuit of excellence, and the little cocktail bar means you can try some of Cardrona Distillery’s Single Malt Vodka or Rosehip Gin shaken, mixed or stirred. Or if it feels too early for spirits, sit back with a coffee and homemade shortbread instead. If the inside of this distillery and tasting room isn’t enough to impress you, then the outside surely will. Settled in between rolling hills at the base of Cardona Ski Field, it has to be one of the most striking backyards in the world. Reminding you that you’re in Kiwi country though and amongst people who like a bit of humour, the nearby bra fence has become something of an icon for people travelling through.

Words by Rosie Morrison & Photography by Anna Briggs

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Location

2125 Cardrona Valley Road, Wanaka

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Rumoured to be the most photographed building in the country, Cardrona Hotel was built in 1863 as first and foremost a place to stay for hardworking gold miners.

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