Bonnie Prince Charles
The fermentation of grain can be traced back to Egypt, where in 8000BC grain was cultivated commercially processed into a type of beer. The Egyptian chemists in Alexandria were distilling a wide range of liquids and substances to produce alcohol for perfumes, medicines and high alcohol elixirs.
In early Europe and the United Kingdom monks kept bees and cultivated grains, often paying their tax to the King with mead, honey, honey beer and fruit ciders. On returning from their missions to the East around 600AD they brought back the art of distillation. So began early whiskey production in the Isles. These early distillations were used in medicine and elixir's created from what they had around them to became the first usquebagh to whiskey of today.
When King Henry II invaded Ireland in 1170 his soldiers reported that the Irish were consuming “aqua vita” or “usquebagh” (common names used for whiskey). Spirit based drinks for the kings and royal houses of Europe were often made from distilled grain honey and herbs. As their whiskey production evolved they learned the benefits of storing the brews in oak barrels. One of the most famous of all is Drambuie, the Scottish whisky liqueur, originally made for the Scottish Royal House. DRAMBUIE is the ancient Gaelic word meaning “The drink that satisfies“. The secret recipe was passed on to the Mackinnons in 1746 by Bonnie Prince Charles in gratitude for facilitating his flight from Scotland.
The first New Zealand whiskey commercially sold was produced by the Owen McShane Distillery. In 1838, they were supplying whaling settlements around the South Coast, from Waikawa to Preservation Inlet.
Come forward to 1998 to a shed in rural Golden Bay. A new phase in New Zealand whiskey production begins, influenced by the early healers and alchemists’ elixirs which were made for the elite of ancient times. Terry Knight developed the “WAITUI WHISKEY”, distilled from a malt mash, aged for a minimum of five years in French oak honey mead barrels, then balanced with the ancient waters of the Te Waikoropupu aquifer resulting in a distinctive “single malt manuka honey whiskey”. Even now in 2018, only small batches of the “Waitui Whiskey” are produced then hand bottled and labelled ready for sale.
Produced by Kiwi Spirits Distillery, Takaka, Nelson, New Zealand.