Home Estate Planning New Zealand Whisky: How to celebrate Waitangi Day in London

New Zealand Whisky: How to celebrate Waitangi Day in London

0 comment

Today is Waitangi Day, the national day of Aotearoa-New Zealand. It commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, an 1840 agreement between native Māori and representatives of the British Crown, which is widely regarded as the founding document of the modern state.

In New Zealand itself, the day has a rather sombre tone. Although it has been a public holiday for half a century, there are no celebrations or joyful displays of national unity. Instead, there is a sober commemoration ceremony at the site of the original signing, reflections on colonial history, and protests from some Māori and their supporters about a treaty which has more often been honoured in the breach.

This stands in stark contrast to the way that the event is observed in London, where for over forty years, it has been celebrated with the Waitangi Day Circle Line Pub Crawl. This lively procession sees thousands of Kiwis – many of them dressed-up as prominent New Zealanders or objects of Kiwiana – following a route from Paddington to Westminster, and culminates with a haka, performed in Parliament Square. When in London, why not do as the London-based Kiwis do, and observe the occasion with few drinks?

Whisky has been produced in New Zealand since before the treaty was signed, and the production of moonshine was common among the early 19th century Scottish settlers in the Otago region, on the east coast of the South Island. However, modern commercial distilleries are a comparatively recent development. Onerous regulations effectively ended domestic production in the 1870s, and while distilling re-emerged in the 1950s, it wasn’t until 1974 that a popular mass market whisky arrived, with the Willowbank Distillery’s release of Wilson’s.

The past 50 years have seen a slow, but promising growth in New Zealand whisky production. Many distilleries make use of unique local resources, resulting in spirits that are quite unlike anything you will find elsewhere in the world.

Cardrona The Falcon

In production since 2015, the family-owned Cardrona Distillery sources water from its namesake, Mount Cardrona, in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. With long fermentations and small copper pot distillation, it has established itself as one of the leading New Zealand whiskies in the international market. The Falcon is a single malt, produced by vatting three casks – an ex-bourbon barrel, an ex-oloroso butt, and an ex-pinot noir barrique. The nose has French vanilla ice cream, nectarines and orange zest, while the palate brings in rich caramel, nutmeg and an edge of black pepper. 700ml, 52% ABV, £175: buy it here

Thomson Manuka Wood Smoke Cask

Thomson is a small distillery based just north of Auckland. Established by hobbyist distillers in 2009 it makes “New Zealand craft whisky for the modern enthusiast”. A true innovator, it has pioneered manuka smoked whiskies, where malt is smoked with native manuka (New Zealand tea tree) woodchips instead of the more traditional peat. Manuka – the plant from which the famous honey is derived – had long been used to smoke fish, and has a bright, medicinal flavour. This exclusive bottling is showcases Thomson’s unique manuka smoke. Liniment and baking spices on the nose, carry over to the tongue where they are joined by vanilla and cinnamon rolls, the finish is long, and unusually smoky.  700ml, 55.6% ABV, £73.95: buy it here

New Zealand 1988 Single Cask

The aforementioned Willowbank began production in 1969. Based in Oamaru north of Dunedin, it was once the world’s southernmost commercial distillery. It was eventually taken over by the Australian brewers, Fosters, who mothballed it in 1997, before it was finally dismantled in 2007. Some of Thomson’s earliest releases were actually old Willowbank stock, and that which remains is increasingly sought after, as the output of New Zealand’s foremost ghost distillery. This is a rare single-cask release, distilled in 1988 and bottled in 2017. There are vibrant flavours of tropical, stone, and orchard fruit, which shine through the spice of almost three decades of maturation. 700ml, 55.3% ABV, £450: buy it here

Pokeno Origin New Zealand Single Malt

The town of Pokeno, in rural Waikato was mainly famous for selling New Zealand’s finest bacon, and being the first place to stop for an ice cream, when driving south from Auckland. But more recently it has gained attention as the home of one of New Zealand’s most exciting new whisky-makers. Founded in 2019, Pokeno is the country’s largest single malt distillery, with aspirations to develop a real global presence. Using locally-grown barley, and aged exclusively in first-fill bourbon barrels, Pokeno Origin demonstrates the crisp precision of the distillery’s whisky. It is beautifully judged; sweet and butterscotchy, with orchard fruits, and refreshing hints of bitter citrus. Perfect for Waitangi Day. 700ml, 43% ABV, £46.50: buy it here

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Are you sure want to unlock this post?
Unlock left : 0
Are you sure want to cancel subscription?