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Waitui Whiskey bold background

Spirit Showcase: Waitui Whiskey

Waitui Whiskey is first and foremost a New Zealand Single Malt Whiskey. A Whiskey made with meticulous dedication and care from the pure terroir of this land – Aotearoa New Zealand.

Waitui is inspired by ancient tales of Irish Monks that used Honey Mead barrels to age their malted barley spirit. Legend has it that these monks first brought home the knowledge of distillation to Europe after learning about the process while on pilgrimages in the Middle East. It is thought that the original spirit they created was Uisce Beatha (water of life or Aqua Vitae), a few hundred years later this would be known as whiskey. Back in those times they didn't have Bourbon or Sherry barrels to age the spirit they created, instead they used the barrels they had on hand – old Honey Mead barrels. When we began the process of producing a truly New Zealand Whiskey, we looked back to ancient times and we asked ourselves, what could be a uniquely New Zealand expression of Whiskey?


New Zealand is renowned for its Manuka Honey and this naturally led us on the journey of creating our own unique barrel, a Ex Manuka Honey Mead barrel. We make our own Manuka Honey Mead from Honey sourced from our local national parks, we fill virgin barrels with this Mead for a year to prime the barrels and only then are the barrels ready to hold our Waitui Whiskey. Honey Mead is an age-old alcoholic beverage, created by fermenting honey, water and yeast. During the fermentation process the yeast eats the sugars in the honey and turns them into alcohol, resulting in a very dry but full of flavour ancient beverage. Our Manuka Honey Mead imparts a rich and bittersweet flavour to our barrels, Manuka has fantastic complexity to it that goes far beyond sweet to more of a medicinal taste profile.

We source our barrels from the mountainous regions of Bulgaria, where the oak grown for barrel production grows slower on the limestone foothills. This results in a tighter grain, slower ageing process and a unique complexity of flavors, adding an array of toasted spice, vanilla and oak. It pairs perfectly with our Honey Mead to create an utterly unique barrel, the Ex New Zealand Manuka Honey Mead Barrel. 

Water is deeply important to all spirits, and we are incredibly lucky to be located between two pristine National Parks in an area with high rainfall and water tables. We have our own Aquifer onsite at the distillery with some of the purest water in the world running below us, flowing down from the limestone mountains that surround Golden Bay. This pure water is used in all parts of our production, from creating our mash to cutting our whiskey down to our desired strength and every step in between.

We work with fifth generation growers Gladfields to source our Barley. They are located in the heart of Canterbury on 500 acres of prime arable farmland made up of stony loam soil with just the right mixture of sunshine and rain for bumper harvests - their expertise is second to none. They are dedicated to their craft just as we are and their commitment to high quality shows in the malty sweet notes that their Barley brings into the finished Whiskey. 

From this Barley we made our mash that is then double distilled in our custom 300 litre copper pot still. Then begins eight long years of aging in our ex honey mead barrels. We don’t temperature control our barrels, instead they feel the seasons with us, part of the elements and the changes that each year brings.

At Kiwi Spirit Distillery we combine pristine New Zealand ingredients with old world inspiration to create our Waitui Whiskey. We only release four barrels of this limited and unique drop each year, each bottle hand numbered and hand labelled. Waitui Whiskey is a truly New Zealand Whiskey, an incredibly smooth and easy drinking dram seeped in history.

Tasting Notes: Pale amber colour with caramelised pineapple and chocolate on the nose. Notes of malt, pineapple, barley, apricot, brioche, vanilla and caramel on the palate with a long and smooth finish.

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