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Scapegrace to build £13m distillery in Central Otago

New Zealand spirits producer Scapegrace has announced plans to spend £13m on building a distillery on the banks of Lake Dunstan in Central Otago.

The Scapegrace team claims it will be New Zealand’s largest ever distillery when it is fully completed in October 2023.

It will eventually produce all of Scapegrace’s award-winning gins and vodkas, along with its soon-to-be-released single malt whisky. The company plans to expand into other spirits categories further down the line too.

Managing director Daniel McLaughlin said that the climate and water quality in Central Otago – which is famed for its Pinot Noir – make the region ideal for producing spirits.

‘The halfway point between equator and south pole runs directly through our distillery site, giving us extremes in hot and cold temperatures – an optimum environment for aging whisky,’ said McLaughlin.

‘Naturally, the pristine water quality is also ideal for distilling gin and vodka, pulling from glacial run-off from the Southern Alps.’

Scapegrace Distilling Company has secured a 36-hectare plot of land overlooking Lake Dunstan, with Mount Pisa and the Bendigo mountains providing a spectacular backdrop.

McLaughlin and brother-in-law Mark Neal founded Scapegrace back in 2014, along with Richard Bourke, after bonding over a shared love of gin.

It was initially known as Rogue Society. However, it ran into copyright issues when the brand expanded into Europe in 2017, as there is a brewery with a similar name on the continent, so it was rebranded as Scapegrace.

In 2019, the company hit headlines across the globe after producing the world’s first naturally black gin, which turns purple when mixed with tonic.

Until now, the spirits have been distilled under contract in a distillery located near the base of the Southern Alps, using pure glacial water that has been filtered through layers of sediment rock for 80 years before it is released into the depths of one of the world’s last natural aquifers.

The brand’s slogan is: “The reason that Scapegrace tastes clean is because it is.” It is exported to more than 40 countries, including the UK, Australia, USA, Canada, and various parts of Europe and Asia.

Scapegrace will now be able to produce its own spirits in-house at the distillery, which was designed by Auckland-based Cheshire Architects.

Construction has started on the first building, which will house the firm’s head office, a bottling hall, a warehouse and the first barrel room. It will open in August 2022.

The second building will be opened in October 2023. There will be a bar and restaurant, while visitors can enjoy distillery tours and visit nearby goldmines. The distillery will open to the public in November 2023.

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