Do you know we have our very own gin distillery here on the Coromandel Peninsula?

As the days get longer and warmer, I do enjoy a gin and tonic on the deck… there is something about a long gin that is very thirst quenching on a humid day, isn’t there? It’s the distinctive taste of juniper with the bitter taste of the tonic that I like, but I’m also loving the newer style of gin that plays with botanicals to create some fascinating and place-specific flavours.

My friends, Paul Schneider and Daniela Suess started working in New Zealand in the early 2000s and moved to Thames in 2008. With backgrounds in conservation, neither of them knew at that point that soon they would be at the crossroads of science, art and alchemy as gin distillers!

“Gin is hands-down the most exciting of spirits. The ability to capture aromas from a wide range of ingredients is super exciting in gin. We go to great lengths in sourcing our ingredients: we actually either grow them, wild forage them or order them directly from our overseas suppliers. Our Coromandel Dry Gin uses a total of 20 botanicals.” enthuses Paul.

COVID-19 has impacted on us all in one way or another. Paul and Daniela have been patiently waiting for their delivery of bespoke bottles from Europe for Coromandel Distillery Company’s new Awildian brand, but while they waited, Paul has been inventive in finding other solutions for selling his batch-made gin. Sand-blasting other company’s gin bottles (even ones that we could all probably name just from the shape of the bottle) Paul entered it into the 2020 NZ Spirits Awards under the witty monikor, The Cuckoo and won first prize!

Those bottle are still on display at their charmingly low-key distilling room (behind Melbourne Café on Pollen Street) but for now that limited edition run has sold out and Paul is using little glass medicine bottles reminiscent of old cough mixture bottles with the labels in a typewriter font. This is a nice ‘nod’ to the history of gin production; first produced as a medicine and used to mask the bitter taste of quinine, it of course went on to become a symbol of prohibition in the 1930s and today is the base for many world-famous cocktails.

Coromandel Brewing beer taps

It was fascinating seeing the whole set up, chat to Paul and of course I had to try one or two samples! So whether you take your gin straight on the rocks or long with tonic or ginger ale, I’m sure you’d also enjoy a visit to the Coromandel Distilling Company.