Southland spirit takes centre stage

Old Hokonui Museum and Distillery visitor services Lucy Leti is looking forward to celebrating...
Old Hokonui Museum and Distillery visitor services Lucy Leti is looking forward to celebrating Southland’s quirky spirit tradition at the Hokonui whisky and Food Match on May 28. PHOTO: NICOLA SIMPSON
Hokonui, Southland’s own brand of whisky will have its moment in the spotlight at the Bayleys Tussock Country Music Festival.

The whisky will feature as part of an evening event celebrating Southland’s quirky and colourful grain spirit tradition.

Gore district arts and heritage curator Jim Geddes said the event was held for the first time during the 2021 festival at the Maruawai Centre and was very successful.

"The Old Hokonui Whisky and Food Match event is a fun evening of food, music and history that takes place right here in the Old Hokonui Museum and Distillery," he said.

"The event sits nicely with the country theme of the Tussocks and Southland’s quirky history. It’s a chance to profile the spirits we make at the museum, hear from other distilleries and try their product. Food curator Jude Taylor will be back again to craft a game-based and Prohibition-era cuisine to match the flavours of the evening. We’ve also worked with musicians to develop a country-themed set list for the night."

Hokonui is a legendary southern spirit first made in the bush-clad Southland hills of the same name.

Over 50 years of localised prohibition gave rise to this truly indigenous cottage industry and brought forth some legendary clandestine activity in the hills, gullies and farm sheds around Gore.

Poets have written about it, musicians have sung about it and Southland has more than its fair share of tall stories regarding the many colourful characters involved in the illicit manufacture and distribution of both good, and bad, Hokonui.

Spirits from selected southern New Zealand providers will be featured at the evening, along with matched hors d’oeuvre-style food from the wilds of inland and coastal Southland.

Featured, of course, will be Southland’s own Old Hokonui, but there will also be representatives from other southern distilleries presenting tastings of their new and exciting lines, including Rakiura Distillery from Stewart Island and Auld Distillery from Scotts Gap.

Jude Taylor will infuse a wild flavour into her tapas-style themed offerings and will also provide a selection of matched food platters using prime Southland produce and whisky-infused delicacies.

Finest southern craft beer and Central Otago wine will also feature.

The Old Hokonui Whisky and Food Match event will be held on Tuesday, May 28, from 6pm as part of the Tussock Country music festival.