In 1997, New Zealand's last whisky distillery was closed down. Willowbank Distillery in Dunedin was sold to Fosters, only for Fosters to cease operations — subsequently, hundreds of barrels of cask strength whisky were auctioned off or mothballed. But the folk at The New Zealand Whisky Collection weren't ready to see this whisky die. In 2010, whisky evangelist Greg Ramsay and a team of investors purchased the last 443 barrels and brought New Zealand whisky back to life.
Just an hour north of Dunedin, in Oamaru's beautiful historic harbour, The New Zealand Whisky Collection slings specialty mouth-watering whiskies. The Cellar Door is open seven days, with samples either by the dram or tasting sets. A must try is The Oamaruvian — the lovechild of whisky enthusiasts and winemakers Warren and Deb Preston — matured in the seaside climate of Oamaru in Amercian bourbon, French oak and NZ wine barrels, it's utterly amazing. Should hunger strike, there is a variety of local fare on offer that pair perfectly with whisky, such as marmalade and fudge.
The New Zealand Whisky Collection hopes to start distilling again in the future and see the whisky industry flourish in the country yet again.