Dunedin company offering distillery tours

Dunedin historian Gregor Campbell showcases a bottle of Dunedin dry gin, at Dunedin Craft...
Dunedin historian Gregor Campbell showcases a bottle of Dunedin dry gin, at Dunedin Craft Distillery. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
A Dunedin tour company is trading the scenery of the city’s cemeteries for the source of a different kind of spirit.

Guided tours of Sandymount and Dunedin Craft Distillers are the latest offering from Tales From Darkest Dunedin, a local tour company that specialises in spotlighting the colonial history behind Dunedin headstones.

While the business had focused a lot of its tours around the history and "liveliness" of Dunedin cemeteries, manager Lolene Pepers said taking tourists around the city’s distilleries provided a light-hearted and warm option during autumn and winter, once the cruise ship season had ended.

The tour utilised local historian Gregor Campbell and his capacity as a storyteller to showcase the wonders of Dunedin distilleries, while also filling in the gaps about the history of the surrounding landscape.

Sandymount Distillery was completely carbon-neutral and ran on solar power, with some of its flavourings foraged from ingredients in the immediate neighbourhood, he said.

Dunedin Craft Distillery distilled its gin out of bread that would otherwise go straight to landfill.

Mr Campbell said he had researched the early days of whisky-making in Dunedin and the South Island and would share those titbits along the way.

This included the man considered to be the first distiller of the South Island, Owen McShane, known for fermenting sugar from boiled up cabbage-tree leaves.

He hoped people would be stunned by the scenery and the secrets it held.

The tour concluded in Olveston Historic Home — a historic repository that encapsulated Dunedin’s "old world charm", Mrs Pepers said.

"I always want people to know that Dunedin is worthy of tourism," she said.

"Just because our weather isn’t good all the time . . . doesn’t mean that we don’t have a lot to offer tourists that is interesting or exciting — maybe even a little dark."