Karven Craft Distiller was founded in January, but the Kiwi company’s story began a lot earlier. Based in Riverhead, director Stephen Menzies discussed winning awards, new product development and increasing distribution with the team.

What is your company background, how did you start the business?

“The idea to create distinctly New Zealand spirits of outstanding quality was born around a bonfire at the family farm, which sits nestled along the Rangitopuni Stream in Riverhead. An old wooden derelict glasshouse was demolished during the day and set fire to. During the evening while sitting around the bonfire, a joke was made to turn the old glasshouse furnace into a still to make spirits. While the furnace never made it into the distillery, Karven Craft Distiller was born.

With our ideas in place, research was conducted to source a master distiller and organic botanicals of the highest quality. The next year was spent developing our gin, first experimenting and then refining flavour combinations to arrive at a product that is truly New Zealand. Unified Brands were responsible for developing the package and our first 100 bottles were painstakingly produced on March 3rd this year.”

What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?

“Our current product is a premium New Zealand dry gin. Distilled by hand using a unique ‘gravity-flow’ process, it contains eight organic botanicals, four of which, including Manuka flower, are taken from orchards surrounding the distillery. The gin is crafted in small batches of 100 bottles all individually numbered. It is created using high-quality GMO-free grain alcohol and pure New Zealand mineral water sourced from an aquifer next to the distillery.”

Has there been any recent company news?

“Karven Premium New Zealand Dry Gin has just won Outstanding Silver at the International Wine & Spirits Show 2016 in London. This places it among the very best gins at this year’s show.

New product development continues to be a strong focus for the business. We are currently working with our customers to develop exciting new products that are unique to New Zealand and the world. The first of these is a limited release vintage Syrah Grappa.”

What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?

“Karven is a very new brand, so our focus is on building a strong presence within the local market. We are concentrating on developing strong relationships with our customers and suppliers, working with them to develop successful business partnerships. We are flexible in our approach and are happy to work with our customers to meet their needs.”

Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?

“At present, our gin is available in a limited range of bottle shops, bars and restaurants within the Auckland region. We are also starting to build a presence in Napier and Queenstown. We are currently working hard to increase our distribution throughout New Zealand, specifically on-premise accounts, boutique bottle shops, and hotels/lodges.”