It has been a work in progress for over 16 years but Golden Bay distiller Terry Knight is finally celebrating the launch of his first tequila, TeKiwi Blue Agave. The award-winning Knight has a distinguished pedigree in the spirits industry having learned his craft at The Old South Pacific Distillery in Nelson before setting up Schapp Dragon Distillery in Takaka in 2006. Along with partner Rachel Raine, Schapp Dragon make a wide range of whisky, fruit liqueurs, honey and fruit wines, rum, gin and vodka. TeKiwi is being run as a separate “brand child.”
Terry Knight says the inspiration for his overall operation came from a trip around Europe. “Every village seemed not only to have a small distillery that processed excess fruit in the area into wines, spirits and liqueurs, but its facilities were often used as a processing centre by the wider community for turning their excess crops into specialized food products. This business model could work well for many New Zealand towns,” he said. All the fruit used at Schapp Dragon is harvested locally from bio grow orchards or spray free citrus groves.
That local commitment continues in the TeKiwi Blue Agave. “We plant here, the bottles are hand blown here, the bottle stoppers are made from manuka wood found here, it’s all produced here,” he said. There are also plans for a new plantation and larger distilling plant. A lot of time and effort goes into each bottle of tequila and there will not be many produced. Knight is hoping to sell around 500 bottles a year with the price expected to be in the vicinity of $300-$350. The first bottles were auctioned off for considerably more.
Knight settled in Golden Bay more than 35 years ago. He founded the famous Awaroa Lodge eco-resort in the early 12990s before moving into producing honey mead and honey bubbly. Honey is still used in the production of his Waitui Whisky.