Business South Dec / Jan 2022

| 23 Southland: Auld Farm Distillery Visit leads to an all-consuming passion Russell Fredric Auld Farm Distillery runs alongside the farm operation which, in terms of land area, comprises 75% wheat, barley and oats. REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT Rob and Toni Auld’s ”light bulb moment” 15 years ago has become an all consuming passion, developing into one of the few “seed-to-sip” whisky distilleries in the world. The essence of Auld Farm Distillery’s story started in 2006 when Rob and Toni had what became a life-changing visit to a whisky shop during a lunch stop in Oamaru. A convivial conversation with the shop’s owner led to a tour of the third story bond store where the whisky casks were stored. “The first thing that hit you was the smell, it was just amazing, all these old casks there,” Rob says. The couple have a 200 hectare combined arable and livestock farm in Western Southland and soon realised there was a family connection to the casks which were marked 1987, 1988, and 1989. “That was the years where the farm supplied malt barley to Wilson’s [distillery] in Dunedin. “I couldn’t help but think that somewhere in those casks was grain from here and they turned that into whisky.” As a primary producer, seeing the casks containing whisky made from grain supplied more than 20 years ago was inspirational, however it wasn’t until 2017 that Rob and Toni “were on a fast track” to building a distillery after creating a business proposal in 2015. “Once we had got an idea and spent a lot of time researching and training in Tasmania and learning, we were going to do it.” Auld Farm Distillery runs alongside the farm operation which, in terms of land area, comprises 75% wheat, barley and oats. “It’s one of the biggest distilleries in the country now for production of spirit per week. We produce about 1500 tonnes of grain a year and put about 10% of that through the distillery.” Nine different grain types, some of which are heirloom varieties, including wheat, barley, oats, triticale and rye, each with specific flavour profiles, are used in the distillery. It is one of the few in the world that grows its own grain, giving rise to the seed-to-sip concept of a primary producer that also produces its own end product. The distillery was initially partly funded through offering a hundred 100 litre to 200 litre foundation casks containing single-paddock, single-malt, single-barrel whisky produced in 2020. The first public release of barrel-aged whisky will be in 2025, but this was preceded by a very recent bottle release of the clear new-make spirit comprising a three-pack of 200ml bottles of whisky respectively produced with wheat, barley and oats. “Its just to tell the story really on how whisky is made and the different flavours between the different grains; we’ve had a lot of engagement through the tasting events and speaking events that we’ve done over the last few years,” says Rob. “What we’re doing is really educational and a lot of people find that pretty amazing, to be able to understand the process and taste the different flavours. “That’s been really rewarding.” A big part of marketing the whisky and the brand has been simply winning people oneby-one Rob says. It was never intended for the distillery to be such a sizeable venture, but it has grown well beyond Rob and Toni’s initial expectations. Auld Farm Distillery has been nominated as a finalist in the Southland Business Excellence Awards in the Powernet New and Emerging category while Rob and Toni have been nominated for the Meridian Energy One to Watch Award. • Log Cartage • Stock / Bulk • PROUDLY SUPPORTING AULD DISTILLERY Fertiliser • Gravel • Contracting • ransporting T 0800 22 5899 03 225 8356 Otautau 03 225 5899 Pukemaori 03 234 8120 Riverton