Lush, dewy and forged on gold, Cardrona is a rustic countryside that transforms into a snowboarding mecca in winter. Close to the beautiful Lake Wanaka, it’s a retired gold mine (read: the Otago Gold Rush). But nestled within the valley, a young whisky distillery has sprouted, and believe it or not, liquid gold is on its way. It’s going to take a while before the whisky is ripe – 2025 to be exact. The 10 Year Old Cardrona Single Malt will have awakened from its slumber, but until then, gin, orange liqueur and vodka will suffice.
Out of thirst and mostly faith, Desiree Whitaker sold her dairy farm for whisky. She picked Cardrona for its quiet, crisp air and water fed from the highest alpine pass in New Zealand. Nary a peat, the whisky will be rich, fruity and influenced by oloroso sherry, bourbon and the air, as soon as the angels take their share. “Oloroso sherry gives a rich touch of spice, while bourbon offers a lovely butterscotch and coconut,” she explains. “But only in 10 years will we know what the Cardrona style really is.”
As a purist, the whisky is made in true Scottish fashion. Copper stills are imported from Scotland and malted barley, from Britain. However, there are plans to build its own malting plant and growing its own barley would be “icing on the cake”. For now, we expect a great deal from this New Zealand original. If only we didn’t have to wait 10 long years for it.