To visit our website, you must be of an age at which the purchase and consumption of alcohol is permitted according to the legislation in your country of residence. If there are no laws on this matter then you must be at least 18 years old.

I am of legal drinking age in my location

Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health. International Beverage Holdings Ltd encourages you to drink responsibly.

Terms & Conditions

Speyburn Single Malt Whisky Unveils Brand Refresh

Find Out More

'The highs and lows of spirit-making' by Desiree Reid


Cardrona Distillery

Provenance. The place where a spirit is made and the special qualities and characteristics that are captured in the bottle as a result. For lots of whisky makers, that connection to the land and the distillery location is a big thing. For me, as the Founder of Cardrona Distillery in New Zealand, it’s everything – and it completely defines the spirits our team has been making here for the past eight years in this remote, rugged corner of the world.

Our distillery sits in the midst of the Crown Range of mountains on New Zealand’s South Island, between Wanaka and Queenstown. The first question I’m often asked is: why start making whisky here?

It’s very out of the way and quite an unrelenting place to set up a business. But speak to anyone who has visited us (and they do in increasing numbers) and they will testify that it is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth. We have snow capped mountains, the purest air, a magical sense of stillness and of the sheer power of nature. I was brought up in the countryside on a farm on the South Island, but the Cardrona Valley was always somewhere special for me when I visited as a child. When I made the big decision to turn my dream of founding a whisky distillery into a reality - and after visiting the US and Scotland to do my research - I realised that the Cardrona Valley was the place to do it.

Being so remote, and in an area with little in the way of whisky-making infrastructure, there were of course many challenges. But the positives far outweigh them. And over the past few years, one of the most fascinating aspects for me is developing our skills in making and maturing spirits in such an extreme location. The blueprint for what we do here was guided by the incredible mentors I had in Scotch and American whisky. But after that, we have quite literally had to brave the elements, making spirits that do justice to the incredible natural environment that surrounds us – the snowfed water, the mountain air, unique climate and the very singular set of raw materials available to us.  

First and foremost, our location has a high altitude, sitting about 600 metres above sea level. It’s also very dry, with annual rainfall of just 600 millimetres, with low humidity and extreme seasonal swings in temperature (from -10C in winter to 40C in the summer and from day to night it can change by as much as 30C!)

All of these factors affect the way the spirit interacts with our casks and the angel’s share, with our spirit evaporating slightly faster than in somewhere like Scotland and maturing ahead of our predictions. We’ve also had to change some of our processes, for example being mindful not to let our casks dry out, watering our sherry and bourbon casks to keep them hydrated before use, and filling our red wine casks as soon as they arrive.

The result? Our younger stock is full of flavour and already making its mark on the world – for example with ‘Just Hatched’, our three-year-old single malt, winning New Zealand’s Best Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards.

Being in such a remote part of the world - and on an island - we’ve also had to be resourceful, and do things in a sustainable way, mindful of our impact on this extraordinary place. Our grains are grown just a few hours from the distillery, we take our water from the Alvin’s well in the Cardrona Valley, and our co-products are used to feed sheep, deer and cattle on the historic Cardrona Valley Farm Station next door.

And then there’s our community, which is one of the biggest benefits of making whisky in a place that is so removed from the bustle of the wider world. The people and businesses here really do stick together to make things work. This is one of New Zealand’s highly respected wine making regions, and we have wonderful connections with some of the country’s finest producers in the area who supply fresh casks exclusively to us. We can pick up Pinot Noir casks from Felton Road Winery, which is just a short journey away and use them for maturation in a way that is uniquely ours, preserving the fresh flavours of the wine and giving a lovely and very distinctive local flavour to our finished whisky.

It also means a great team. When people come to join Cardrona Distillery, from wherever they hail from in the world, they really want to be here, to put down roots, and to be part of our community. Along with all the benefits of our magnificent location, this is what’s ingrained in our raw spirit and in the character of every drop of liquid that leaves our distillery for markets around the world.