Wanaka woman Desiree Reid (centre) celebrates getting resource consent approval for her proposed Cardrona Valley whisky distillery with the project's architects Sarah Scott (left) and Jennie Nelson with a dram of Scotch. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
The celebratory clink of whisky glasses this week was a sign
of good things to come for Wanaka woman Desiree Reid as she
toasted the news her proposed Cardrona Valley whisky
distillery, perfumery and museum development had been
While it will be a decade before the first batch of
Cardrona-made single malt will be poured, its production is
expected to be under way by early next year.
The distillery's main product will be whisky, but it will
also produce vodka, fruit liqueurs and rose oil, and host
daily tastings and tours.
The commissioners' decision to grant resource consent was
''very exciting ... absolutely wonderful'', Ms Reid (35) said
yesterday, before sharing a round of Scotland's national
drink with the project's architects, Sarah Scott and Jennie
Nelson, who had accessorised with tartan for the occasion.
''I'm just so rapt ... that I can be part of the Cardrona
Valley future. It's just such a wonderful place. The people
up there have been really really fantastic.''
In fact, Ms Reid had been ''blown away'' by the support of
Cardrona residents, who backed her proposal from the outset,
and as an enduring show of gratitude her company Zescent
Group Ltd will provide a museum building at the distillery
complex to house and display the historic artefacts and
stories of the valley, along with staff to run the
The Cardrona Heritage Trust will control the museum exhibits
on behalf of the community.
Ms Reid spent a long time researching business ideas before
settling on whisky, an interest she developed in her early
20s when managing a gastro-pub in London and being introduced
to single-malts by the locals.
She soon became hooked, particularly on blends such as
Glenfarclas and Cragganmore, and it is those ''rich but clean
tasting'' Speyside styles she hopes to emulate.
Her whisky-making research has involved trips to Scotland,
hands-on distilling courses and international alcohol trade
shows and seminars.
In May, she travelled to the Scottish Highlands for a third
time, this time with her parents - who are investing in the
business - and Ms Scott.
They visited 10 of the great Scottish distilleries and saw
the Cardrona-bound traditional pot stills being made at
fourth-generation coppersmiths Forsyths.
Ms Scott, who owns the architecture firm which worked on the
project, said the trip had a ''huge impact'' on the Cardrona
''The layout of the plant, the way in which it functions, the
whole process ... it's vital in terms of understanding what
the building needs to do,'' Ms Scott said.
After selling her South Canterbury dairy farm last year Ms
Reid, a Nuffield Scholar, moved to Wanaka where she had
holidayed throughout her childhood.
''Both Cardrona and Wanaka have a soft spot in my heart,'' Ms
Reid told last month's resource consent hearing.
From a whisky-making perspective, the weather extremes of the
Cardrona Valley were ideal for making and maturing single
malt, she said.
''The variable climate means the casks have a proper cycle.
During the summer months the spirit expands out into the wood
then during the winter it contracts back into the barrels.''
Ex-bourbon casks from a small distillery in the United States
will be used in the manufacturing process, but the hunt is
still on for ex-sherry casks.
''Both make a beautiful whisky but create quite different
flavour profiles ... Because people aren't drinking as much
sherry these days [ex-sherry casks are] harder to find,'' Ms
Building is expected to start in September at the 3.5ha
development site opposite the entrance to the Cardrona Alpine
Resort and Forsyths representatives are due to arrive in New
Zealand in February or March to commission the distillery.
Initially, barley will be sourced from Canterbury, but Ms
Reid hopes to establish a small malting plant in the valley
in the future - ''then we can get local grains, which would
be just amazing''.
While it was a ''real shame'' the whisky would not be ready
until the mid-2020s, the wait would be worth it, Ms Reid
''We want to do a proper traditional job of it and really,
that's how long it takes.''