The world’s biggest little secret in Golden Bay is a spirited sensation that’s tickling its customers pink. Spiced with captivating infusions of cardamom, coriander seeds, peppercorns, liquorice and angelica root, Dancing Sands’ hot-selling Sacred Spring brands are challenging the gin category.
“They say big things come in small packages and we can definitely vouch for that!” says master distiller Ben Bonoma. “Our Sacred Spring gins are now selling in eight countries from New Zealand and Australia to Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Philippines, the UK and Romania. We expect this number to double in the next year with our recent hiring of a head of European sales.”
Handcrafted by Ben and his wife Sarah, Dancing Sands’ impressive range of tantalising brews are punching above their weight, beating big brand names at major award events and back bars of cocktail restaurants around the country.
“Our gin is one of the few on the market that does not contain citrus, which gives it a unique flavour profile that has truly resonated with consumers around the world,” says Ben.
Their dry gin won gold at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition – the largest spirits competition in the world, a feat repeated by the saffron gin in 2018. And, just last month, after launching into the UK and establishing a warehouse in Europe to meet spiking European thirst, they released their sixth gin, ‘Sacred Spring Sun-Kissed Gin’, a unique take on the trendy pink gin category.
“It is aromatic, fresh and smooth and dangerously drinkable. A perfect stocking-filler for summer!” says Sarah Bonoma.
The new pink gin joins a proud brand family that include barrel-aged, dry, saffron, chocolate and wasabi strength gins.
Dancing Sands’ impressive growth is a result of the Bonoma’s relentless passion for quality and innovation. At their Takaka distillery, the couple create, bottle and label everything by hand, foraging for local botanicals and developing new flavours and products.
“We’re located in one of the most beautiful places in the world, sourcing water from the aquifer that feeds the clearest spring in the world. We are obligated to honour these gifts that have been bestowed upon us and craft the highest quality products using the best ingredients. We then take this obligation and challenge what a gin can be in really fun, colourful and innovative ways,” explains Ben.
Their story began in a Manhattan cocktail bar when Ben and Sarah met and fell in love over gin martinis with blue cheese olives. At the time Ben was working as an IT specialist in New York and Sarah as a business analyst in London. Keen to work for themselves the budding entrepreneurs hatched a plan to quit their corporate jobs and start a new life making gin in New Zealand.
After acquiring existing distillery equipment, they launched the new Dancing Sands label in early 2016. Sarah is the director of operations and also the chair of the board of directors, while Ben leads the company as CEO as well as conjures his master distiller’s magic.
“Sarah runs all aspects of the distillery and logistics and keeps me in check whilst balancing our two young children at home. She’s an impressive woman!” credits Ben.
For a sun-kissed taste sensation, pop into the Dancing Sands tasting room and cellar door the next time you’re in Takaka at 46A Commercial Street. It’s open all year round.