Our distillery proper started in 2010 with the help of Tony Denny. Based out of Shepards' point on Waiheke, we began to scale up production and built our wash still, Vitriol 2. Using full size American Oak barrels, we laid down our first malt, Izzard , which would go on to win silver in craft distiller category at the 2018 SF Spirits awards.
Back in 2010 there was little available in New Zealand for the craft distiller, so we had to build all of our equipment from scratch.
Creating our copper stills was a project in itself, and we went back, a long way back, into history books for the basis of the geodesic design that allows the process to have maximum copper contact.
Our stills are named V.I.T.R.I.O.L. 1 and 2
We've decided that it's best to let Eric who designed the geodesic still take over the explanation from here.
“Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem" is the meaning of the alchemical acronym V.I.T.R.I.O.L.
Translated from Latin: “Visit the interior of the earth and by rectifying (purifying) you will find the hidden (philosopher's) stone.”
The motto was first published by the 15th Century alchemist Basilius Valentinus, appearing in L’Azoth des Philosophes, and is the search for the philosopher stone, turning base products into gold, which is what we are doing....basically.
The name is acid etched it into the copper
The stills are the beating heart for the whisky we make.
"We needed copper conact, and nothing has a surface area like a geodesic. Combine that with a degree of reflux from the steep sides and you have a perfect shape for a still. The stills are 2600l for the wash and 1200l for the spirit still, machined from copper, hand bent, riveted and welded into shape.
The Lyne arm is short and step initially connected to a long tail to the worm tubs."
Vitriol 1 and 2 under maintance
Worm tubs make for a heavier spirit.
We chose worm tubs rather than shotgun condensers, its the old fashioned way but gives us a deep rich spirit with tonnes of mouth feel and depth.
25m of 65mm diameter annealed cooper pipe makes each worm, the tubs themselves standing 5m tall and 2m wide.
A worm under construction
The distillery is based on Waiheke Island, a small island in the Hauraki Gulf in the Pacific, home to approx 8000 inhabitants. most of the island is dedicated to farming and viticulture.
Shepards point is where the distillery has been for the last 7 years, a big green shed hidden in the Stonyridge valley.