Distilleries could return

Whisky distilleries could once again return to Dunedin after a 15 year absence, if a trade mission to Canada and the United Kingdom is successful this week.

Representatives from the New Zealand Whisky Collection yesterday left for a series of promotional events and trade presentations in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, London and Aberdeen, and collection spokesman Greg Ramsay said the early signs were already good that the Oamaru-based collection of whiskies would be well-received.

Mr Ramsay said almost 60% of stock sent last year to the UK's largest whisky distributor, Scottish company Gordon and MacPhail, was pre-sold before it reached liquor shop shelves.

Production at the Willowbank distillery in Dunedin ceased in 1997, but for the past six years its whisky has been maturing at the New Zealand Whisky Collection in Oamaru and Mr Ramsay said it received ''wide acclaim'' overseas.

If exports continued to go well, Dunedin would be distilling whisky again ''in no time''.