No distillery but city may get bar

Dunedin may have missed out on whisky distilling returning to the city but could still benefit from a new New Zealand Whisky Company lounge bar.

New Zealand Whisky Company chief executive Greg Ramsay told The Star it was now looking more likely the company would start distilling in Oamaru, but it was interested in creating a lounge bar in Dunedin.

''We're now looking for a cellar door lounge bar venue in Dunedin to open this summer - somewhere with plenty of foot traffic, good visibility and connection to other existing attractions,'' he said.

''Ideally, it would be great to find a venue that has the capacity to also feature craft distilling from next year, and we'll look to buy the wash from one of the local Dunedin craft breweries.''

Chief executive Greg Ramsay said he hoped his company would be able to come to an accommodation with the newly opened Scott's Brewery in Oamaru.

''We're hopeful of being able to buy a locally brewed `wash', which is basically a strong, sweet beer [without any hops added for bitterness], which is what is distilled for making whisky,'' Mr Ramsay said.

''Being able to buy it from next door not only cuts down the capital investment required for us in establishing a distillery, but also reinforces the `place of origin' branding, and also creates a stronger visitor experience - that they can see the wash being brewed, and then the spirit being distilled all in the one complex.''

The whisky sold by the New Zealand Whisky Company was originally brewed in Dunedin by Canadian alcohol giant Seagram. Production stopped in 1997.

jonathan.chilton-towle@thestar.co.nz

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