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Reefton Distilling Co. adopts hands on approach

Reefton Distilling Company founder and chief executive Patsy Bass, centre, with brand ambassador Shane Thrower, left, and head distiller Nick Secker

What happens when science and West Coast ingenuity come together? While the South Island’s West Coast lacks active Covid cases a local boutique gin distillery has branched out to make hand sanitiser so sought-after across New Zealand.

In March when hand sanitiser supplies around the country started to run out, the team at Reefton Distilling Co decided to help the national cause by producing the much-needed product.

In expert hands

Their capability to store, handle and produce high volume alcohol combined with two skilled Bachelor of Science University of Otago graduate distillers with science laboratory experience, meant they had the right knowledge, environment and equipment to go into production.

The team at the distillery have worked with supply chains to secure and transport key components (all in short supply) to the West Coast.  They produced the hand sanitiser at the distillery to a World Health Organisation (WHO) formulation.

In food grade stainless tanks, the team blended highest quality ethanol with glycerine and hydrogen peroxide.  The final concentration is bottled at 80 per cent ethanol and left to rest for 72 hours before dispatch.

Seven days a week

Chief executive Patsy Bass says that making hand sanitiser in addition to keeping up with demand for their spirits and liqueurs has had the small team at Reefton Distilling Co working seven days a week.

She said that while they are not a large volume producer, producing thousands as opposed to hundreds of thousands of bottles,

this is a much needed product in short supply and although getting everything to come together has been challenging, all of our team felt that this was the right thing to do”.


Labels and bottles have been sourced locally to support other New Zealand businesses and product is available in 250ml, 300ml and 500ml bottles direct online and in bulk to emergency and other essential services, including food producers.

Labels and bottles have been sourced locally to support other New Zealand businesses

Distinct West Coast flavour

Reefton Distilling Co is a modern distillery at the forefront of spirit production in New Zealand, nestled deep in the untamed wilderness of New Zealand’s West Coast. They produce a range of award-winning small batch distilled premium spirits with a distinct West Coast flavour.

Dense green rainforests on their doorstep provide ideal foraging environments, rich in botanical gold. Reefton Distilling Co’s Little Biddy Gin range includes ingredients collected from the forest on the morning of distillation.

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