From Classic to Crafted: Elevate Your Gin Experience in NZ

If you’re a fan of gin or looking to explore the world of spirits, New Zealand offers a delightful journey for your taste buds. While classic gin brands are cherished worldwide, the craft gin movement has taken the country by storm, offering unique and handcrafted concoctions that will elevate your gin experience to new heights. In this article, you will delve into the world of NZ gin, exploring its history, the rise of craft distilleries, the diverse botanicals used, the art of gin tasting, and the exciting gin cocktail culture. Get ready to embark on a flavourful adventure and discover the wonders of this liquor!

A Brief History of Gin:

Gin, often called “Mother’s Ruin,” has a fascinating history that dates back centuries. Originating in the Netherlands as a genever, it found its way to England and gained immense popularity in the 18th century. Back then, it was often produced in large quantities with basic botanicals, resulting in a strong and somewhat harsh spirit. However, modern gin has evolved into a refined and nuanced drink, thanks to the advent of craft distilleries that focus on quality and creativity.

The Rise of Craft Distilleries:

In recent years, New Zealand has witnessed an explosion of craft distilleries dedicated to producing exceptional gins. These distilleries focus on small-batch production, paying meticulous attention to detail and sourcing the finest local ingredients. Craft gin makers infuse their spirits with a wide array of native botanicals, including rimu, kawakawa, and horopito, adding a unique Kiwi twist to the traditional gin recipe. The result is a diverse range of gins with flavours that capture the essence of New Zealand’s flora.

Exploring Unique Botanicals:

One of the highlights of NZ’s gin scene is the use of native botanicals, which sets it apart from other countries. Distillers take advantage of the country’s rich biodiversity and incorporate unique ingredients to create distinctive flavour profiles. For example, kawakawa, a native plant known for its spicy notes, imparts this liquor with an earthy and peppery character. Rimu, a type of evergreen tree, adds a subtle citrus aroma. Horopito, a pepper-like shrub, brings a warm and zesty kick. These botanicals make the drink here a truly exceptional and indigenous spirit.

The Art of Gin Tasting:

To fully appreciate the complexity and nuances of this drink, follow these steps. Pour a small amount into a tulip-shaped glass and swirl gently to release the botanical aromatics. Inhale deeply, appreciating the fragrant bouquet. Take a small sip and let the flavours unfold on your palate, noting the balance of sweetness and bitterness. Trust your senses, as tasting is a subjective experience. Embrace the journey of discovery and enjoy the captivating art of gin tasting.

The Exciting Gin Cocktail Culture:

Gin’s versatility makes it a fantastic base for a wide range of cocktails. In New Zealand, mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts have embraced this spirit, creating innovative and tantalising gin-based concoctions. The options are endless, from the classic G&T with a twist to vibrant and refreshing fruit-infused cocktails. Kiwis love experimenting with local ingredients, such as feijoa, kiwifruit, and passionfruit, to craft unique and delicious drinks. So whether you’re enjoying a sunny afternoon or celebrating a special occasion, the vibrant cocktail culture here is sure to impress and satisfy your taste buds.


From its humble origins to the modern craft distillery movement, gin has come a long way in New Zealand. The country’s distillers have elevated the gin experience by infusing it with native botanicals, resulting in an exciting and diverse range of flavours. Whether you’re sipping a delicately balanced gin neat or enjoying a creative cocktail, the NZ gin scene promises to enchant and delight. So raise your glass, embrace the spirit of adventure, and immerse yourself in the world of crafted gin in the land of the long white cloud.

Author:  Alison Lurie