Whisky investors query progress

New Zealand Whisky Collection barrels. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
New Zealand Whisky Collection barrels. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Five months after the New Zealand Whisky Company raised almost $700,000 through crowd-funder PledgeMe, some investors are asking what has been achieved.

As of the March year 306 people pledged $695,730 to New Zealand Whisky Company.

Company general manager Grant Finn has defended the information flow to investors, sending the Otago Daily Times (ODT) copies of a "welcome'' to the PledgeMe shareholders and the quarterly shareholder newsletter. One was sent in March, while the next is due in June.

The cash was to help fund redevelopment of Oamaru's former Northern Star hotel into a storage area and cellar door, and for a distillery development, at a yet to be revealed location.

"Just before we opened our crowd fund in October 2018 we began discussions with a potential alternate site for our stills and distilling operation,'' Mr Finn said.

He said the company was initially going to set up distilling in Oamaru, but was now at the "tail end of discussions with the landlord'' and he still hoped to "secure this superb location for production''.

Earlier company profits had paid for two large copper stills, which were delivered from China to Dunedin late last year.

In 2010, Australian-based founder Greg Ramsay purchased 443 barrels of whisky - 80,000 litres - made by the former Wilson's distillery of Dunedin. This has been rebranded and sold under a variety of names.

As at December it had 103 original barrels left, and another 100 new barrels from a "production partner'' in storage.

A person who had attended the company's crowdfunder presentations contacted the ODT last week, claiming "loads of promises have resulted in zero follow through''.

"To date all they've [pledgers] seen is the continual sale of the old Wilson's distillery stock - no production, no new jobs, no distillery in Oamaru.''

Mr Finn said the Whisky Company had used a New Zealand "contract distiller'' in recent years and now had "young spirit maturing'' in the Oamaru warehouse, "to help bridge the transition from old to new products''.

"The business is now focusing on new production so it can replace its old, depleting stock, which will sell down in most channels in the next two to four years,'' Mr Finn said.

The quarterly report noted the full-year sales target of $1.98million was expected to be down by 10%-15%, because of a change in the US importer, a hold up of a third consignment to Taiwan and a late shipment to Japan.

Offsetting that may be a larger-than-hoped order from the UK.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

 

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