indiginous gin is the passionate adventure of good mates Simon Wilson and Chris Charteris. After 2 years of experimenting and scheming (and a bit of drinking) we have established our distillery on the site of the original Tuatara Brewery in the Reikorangi Valley on the Kapiti Coast in New Zealand. In the shadow of greatness, we are focussed on creating gin which delights those who drink it by delivering a smoothness and clarity of flavour that says, quite simply and honestly, 'THIS IS REALLY GOOD GIN'. Not flavoured vodka. Not some wannabee spirit that's seen a few juniper berries and some rare native bush plant extract that doesn't really smell like or taste like gin... in a really expensive bottle inside a really expensive box. No, that's not us. We ferment our own alcohol and distill in an 8 plate fractionating column still. The secret to our flavour profile comes from the yeast we use in fermentation and the balance of botanicals in distillation. We distill gin with a nose that says 'gin', loudly and clearly, and which makes a clear flavour statement served straight up as well as when served with tonic. And what's the 'indiginous' bit about? We do plan on this being a fun adventure, and we will be creating blends that showcase the different taste elements of the botanicals in our gins. We plan on travelling to the places that are the traditional homes of those ingredients and becoming a bit more familiar with them, as well as with the locals. Those places and people will be expressed on our bottles through the indigenous art of the places where our ingredients are sourced. We hope you'll enjoy drinking indiginous (responsibly of course) as much as we're enjoying making it. This, is our dream.
Rain from Ranginui, the sky father, passes through one of his many children, Tawhirimatea, the weather god. Here the rain falls through the mangopare motif which represents strength, leadership, agility, tenacity, determination, courage and wealth. On a small hilltop next to our distillery stands a 300,000 litre rainwater tank which feeds into the distillery. We charcoal filter the rainwater and it is the purest tasting water any of us has ever drunk.
Manuka is a legendary New Zealand plant, a member of the myrtle family, made famous by the manuka honey and claims of it's antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Manuka is steam distilled to extract the essential oil and manuka hydrosol is the water that remains as a result of that process. We micro-filter the hydrosol and add a small (secret) amount to the gin.
Juniper berries are in fact not berries at all, but seed cones from several species of conifer. Juniper is the essential ingredient in gin - it cannot be called gin without juniper. In fact the very word 'gin' derives from the french word genievre or the dutch jenever, both meaning juniper.
This is a representation of the native New Zealand bird, the tui, as a mania, a creature from Maori mythology. Because of their busy and charming personality, tui are associated with life fulfilment, confidence and spiritual harmony and have powerful significance in Maori culture. The manaia is said to have the head of a bird, the body of a human and the tail of a fish - representing sky, earth and ocean - and act as messengers to the heavens. It is a spiritual guardian and protector. Tui are often present in the bush surrounding our distillery.
The tuatara is a reptile endemic to New Zealand and is the sole surviving member of it's order which flourished around 200 million years ago. Tuatara are of great cultural significance to Maori and strongly feature in some creation stories. Some iwi (Maori tribes) view tuatara as the kaitiaki or guardiands, of knowledge. The tuatara here pays homage to what happened in our distillery before we arrived - it was the birthplace of New Zealand's most famous craft brewery, Tuatara.
Kapiti Island is the dominant geological feature of our region. A bird sanctuary since 1897, the predator free island is home to some of New Zealand and the planet's most endangered birds. The dot work and meeting spiral koru (representing new life and growth) show the relationship between the ocean and the land and where the river meets the sea. The island has a very powerful presence in our lives.
The koru, a stylised representation of our native silver fern, the one the All Blacks wear, stands for new life, growth and learning. Here the multiple koru represent our new business, the journey ahead, the people we will meet, the hurdles we will encounter and the opportunities that are in front of us.
Made with standard dry gin botanicals - juniper, coriander, cinnamon, licorice root, orris root, orange, lemon and lime - we add a tiny amount of manuka hydrosols to create an earthy heart to the gin. We use whole citrus fruit in the column of the still which creates the initial aroma and a touch more than usual licorice and orris which leaves a sweet spice finish. Drink straight up on ice or with a low sugar tonic like Fever Tree Naturally Light or soda water.
This label was inked by Juse from Taupou Tatau tattoo studio in Wellington.
Our rhubarb is grown just up the road from the distillery at Western Harvest farm. It's a family business owned and farmed by the Jones family for over 40 years. We first met Craig Jones when he came to taste our gin at our stand at Central Districts Fieldays - small world! The rhubarb is a variety developed by the late Burt Bose of Waiuku, chosen for it's excellent colour and flavour.
We add a very small amount of manuka hydrosols to our gin which gives it a piney/woody mid palate. The hydrosols, which we charcoal filter, are a byproduct of the manufacture of manuka oil - essentially it's manuka water. It comes from just up the road at Te Horo.
Our raspberries come from another family owned and run farm - Windermere Farm in Whanganui, owned by the Boswells. They leave the berries on the plant for as long as they possibly can to absolutely maximise natural ripening and therefore flavour.
Juniper berries are the essential ingredient in gin. Without at least 50% of the botanicals being juniper, you can't call it gin! In fact the word 'gin' is derived from the French genièvre or the Dutch jenever. And surprisingly, they aren't berries at all but cones - the plant is a type of conifer. Our juniper berries come from Macedonia - they just don't grow in NZ.
For this gin we distill with a little less spice and a little extra orris root for floral sweetness - but it's definitely still a dry gin. We macerate raspberries in the gin for a month, strain, and add the juice we press from locally grown rhubarb. We enjoy drinking with Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic, a slice of lime and bruised mint.
This label was designed by tattoo designer and illustrator Sam Phillips of Waikanae.
Damson are an ancient plum-like fruit that are believed to have originated in Europe somewhere in the vicinity of Damascus and brought to England by the Romans. The plants are very slow growing and can take years to fruit. Ours come from the back yard garden of a lovely lady in Te Horo - can't say who, can’t say where...
Our blackberries come from the same family farm where our rhubarb is grown - Western Harvest farm in Otaki. They're a thorn-free variety developed by the University of California in the 80’s to taste just like wild berries.
Inspired by an old English sloe gin recipe, this liqueur highlights some fantastic autumn produce - the slightly tart heirloom English Damson Plum and the earthy sweet blackberry. The plums have been macerated in gin for 4 months and after micro-filtering we add the pressed juice of the blackberries and 35 grams of sugar per litre of gin. Drink over ice or invent yourself a cocktail.
This label was inked by Rob Mckenzie from Two Hands Tattoo studio in Auckland.