Golden Bay is home to a huge host of innovative, creative types, many of whom try to capture its very essence or spirit in their artistic endeavours.
One who has succeeded to an international award-winning level is distillation entrepreneur Terry Knight who has actually managed to bottle the spirit of Golden Bay in a series of truly Kiwi creations.
Terry and his partner Rachel Raine established their Kiwi Spirit Distillery at Motupipi, just outside of Takaka in Golden Bay, developing a new purpose-built distillery and cellar door/tasting rooms on what is New Zealand’s only blue agave plantation for the production of their 100-percent Agave Spirit TeKiwi. The tasting rooms are open now and Terry is keen for visitors and locals alike to sample his wares. His son Jeremy has joined the team to run the cellar door.
Terry and co-distiller Sue Bensemann have developed a range of world-class, award-winning, handcrafted products including several different gins, whiskey, vodka, tangelo and lime liqueurs, fruit schnapps, and New Zealand’s first blue agave spirit, TeKiwi Tequila.
TeKiwi is New Zealand’s only 100% agave spirit, distilled from Weber Blue Agave Tequilana. “We’ve been nurturing our agave plants for 18 years to establish this special New Zealand-made spirit,” explains Terry, adding that TeKiwi is double-distilled in accordance with traditional artisan tequila processes and methods used for over 200 years and a dash of Kiwi ingenuity.
Earlier this year at the 2019 New Zealand Spirit Awards, Terry and his team won the New Zealand Innovation Award for its limited edition TeKiwi Tequila. The award recognises innovation in the New Zealand spirits market and in particular unique or new processes, imagery and packaging design, recipes and flavours or products.
‘Unique’ sums up Kiwi Spirit Distillery’s business ethos; it’s all about a passion for creating truly Kiwi products such as Totara Gin, Waitui Honey Malt Whiskey and TeKiwi (aka tequila) using key ingredients unique to Golden Bay and New Zealand. They use only the finest ingredients and ‘mana-filled’ water from deep aquifers like the famous Te Waikoropupu Springs that flows under areas of Golden Bay, with their own deep well tapping into what is considered the clearest fresh water on the planet.
Many of those spirits have won trophies, gold, silver and bronze medals at shows in New Zealand, London, Hong Kong, Japan, San Francisco and New York. The latest is the distillery’s health drink, Bite Me Wellness Tonic, which won an international beverage award in Japan, judged the best new functional drink.
Kiwi Spirit Distillery exports to the USA, England, Hong Kong and Australia in addition to having domestic outlets around New Zealand. Overseas the uniqueness of the spirits has made them popular with drinkers and also entertainers such as Young Gambino who features the JiuJiu Supreme Vodka in his new La Fiesta YouTube video.
Back at Motupipi, the team has taken delivery of two gleaming new copper stills from Germany – a 300 litre pot still and a 600 litre break-down still – to complete the distillery and is keen to get them operational over the next few months.
“Our mission is to bring the perfection of Golden Bay’s artisan spirits to global sophisticated sippers and savors. We do this by focusing on small-batch and handcrafted spirits. Of course, our dedication to sustainability also drives what we do. When we look around Golden Bay, we realise we have more than a responsibility, we have an obligation to keep it beautiful.
“We invite you to sample our fantastic range of products and discover for yourself the goodness that comes in a glass.”