When Patsy Bass returned to her hometown of Reefton in 2016, she had a desire to establish a business that would create jobs for Reefton, would attract people into the town and keep both herself and her husband busy. Today, her new business Reefton Distilling Co. has exceeded these expectations.
The business has played a key part in revitalising the town and is now one of the West Coast region’s fastest growing businesses, having created over 20 new jobs, with flow on effects for other businesses, including accommodation and hospitality.
Reefton Distilling Co. has always been about doing the right thing, for the right reasons, to help the West Coast economy.”
She adds, “Our people, values and social purpose are a key part of our success.”
Currently they are building a new production facility, launching home deliveries of their products within Australia and planning exports to the United Kingdom in the spring.
They are also making a name for themselves and their hometown through their international award-winning small batch distilled spirits.
On 25 June 2021 Reefton Distilling Co. achieved one of the highest accolades at this year’s New Zealand Spirits Awards Ceremony. Their Wild Rain Vodka was proclaimed a double Champion Trophy Winner and awarded the trophy for Best New Zealand Vodka, together with the trophy for Best Overall Vodka in Category.
Reefton Distilling Co.’s products have attained an impressive 33 awards over the past 32 months, including a platinum medal and Consumers’ Choice Award at the prestigious international 2021 SIP Awards.
New modern production facility
In 2020 they purchased a new one-hectare site, with land and buildings in Reefton just as they went into lockdown. They moved into the office building in May 2021 and are nearing completion of the fit out of a new, larger production facility.
This new distillery will include a brewhouse, increased storage and a bottling room and will see the distillery commence production of their Moonlight Creek Whisky.
Patsy says, “With our expansion to a large modern production facility, we will be well positioned to meet the global demand for our products.”
“Our new distillery will also provide education and training opportunities for young people through part-time employment, work experience and internships.
“This is much bigger than a distillery. It is about regenerating a town.”
Patsy also has a vision of what the business will look like in 100 years.
“There is a brewhouse on site and we are smoking our own malt with local West Coast Manuka. Stainless steel rainwater collection tanks enable the creation of some products directly from the abundance of wild West Coast rainwater.”
“This would be combined with a cellar door, outdoor courtyard/ gardens and café which is heavily booked for events and spirit making workshops. Reefton Distilling Co. is a gathering place for both the local and wider West Coast community and tourists.
“Reefton Distilling Co. is a major employer in the area and continues to prove and push the boundaries of what is possible in a small rural town.”
“A number of new businesses and tourist activities are operating as a direct result of the revitalisation of Reefton, all retaining the character of the town.”
“The West Coast Distillery Trail is part of the wider New Zealand Distillery Trail, a major tourist attraction.”
“There is global demand for our artisan distillers, coopers, and hospitality staff on completion of their intensive internship, some of whom were youth previously struggling to find their way. This is one of our proudest achievements.”
We asked Patsy what start-up advice she could offer someone keen to pursue their business dream.
Patsy responds, “Have a comprehensive business case, well tested and a strong value offer. Markets are fragmenting swiftly so you will need a very strong and clear offer, so as not to get lost in the noise.
Whatever you think it will cost; triple it. However hard you’re prepared to work; triple that too.”
Clearly, Patsy and her team are committed to work hard and make a difference for Reefton and New Zealand.
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A full range of products are available via their cellar door, through their website www.reeftondistillingco.com and at select liquor and hospitality outlets throughout New Zealand.
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