Desiree looks forward to dram

22:22, Jul 14 2014
timaru cardrona whisky desiree reid
BOTTOMS UP: Former Winchester resident Desiree Reid is establishing a whisky distillery in Cardrona.

A former Winchester dairy farmer's favourite tipple has led her to start establishing a whisky distillery in Cardrona.

Desiree Reid wanted to do something different after dairying for eight years, and discovering the taste of whisky while overseas. "I love it."

She has set about buying copper stills from Scotland. Resource consent has been granted and she will be applying for building consent at the end of the month.

"I hope to open late February or March next year," she said

Fond childhood memories of holidays in Wanaka meant she chose the area for her business opposite the Cardrona skifield road. "It's where I want to be."

The whisky entrepreneur purchased the 3.5 hectare plot from Wanaka skifield pioneers John and Mary Lee's daughter.


"It was a happy accident finding the land. I was looking for the right site which would cope with heavy equipment."

A 5 metres tall and 2m diameter wash whisky still and a slightly smaller spirit still are arriving from Forsyths in Scotland in January. The family business boasts the fourth generation of coppersmiths. Reid has visited Forsyths and seen the copper being cut. The metal is finely layered which helps the alcohol separate out and removes sulphur out of the wash, she said.

She attributes her time at Geraldine High School and Craighead Diocesan School for the belief that she can achieve anything.

"I learnt that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Being a woman makes no difference. You get what you concentrate on and want to achieve."

At 35, Reid has achieved a lot already. She spent six months travelling and looking at how co-ops grow for a Nuffield Scholarship four years ago and sat on Fonterra's shareholding council for two terms from 2005 to 2013. "The dairy industry has taught me a lot of great lessons and has invested in me."

Selling the Winchester farm last year, which she and her former husband had shared, meant she could focus on researching and planning the distillery full time, despite no income.

It will take 10 years to produce her first Cardrona single malt whisky but she plans to make vodka and fruit liqueurs as well. Vodka takes one week to produce while the liqueurs will take two to three weeks. A museum of local history will also be part of the complex.

All Reid needs now is a professional distiller to complete her vision.

The Timaru Herald