A love of gin, a passion for learning and an abundant farm nestled beneath the Kaikoura ranges are the key ingredients that make up Mt Fyffe Distillery.
North Canterbury’s newest gin distillery was born in 2019 when Justine Schroder – midwife, mother, farmer, gin lover – attended a gin making course, fell in love with the process and started brainstorming her way to a brand new business venture.
“I love a good challenge, so the opportunity to create something unique from scratch, supporting local businesses along the way and producing a fantastic product from the area is what has driven me through the whole process,” explains Justine. “Sustainability and supporting local trusts and groups by giving back are also key to my business ethos.”
Creating two blends of gin was important to Justine to showcase how a small area can produce such wonderfully different story-inspired gins. Woolshed Gin has been inspired by Justine’s surroundings; she forages the 260ha sheep farm that her and husband Barry run, for botanical elements including kanuka, mint and elderflower. The other blend – Shearwater Gin – draws inspiration from the Hutton’s shearwater; an endemic New Zealand bird whose colonies can now only be found in the Seward Kaikoura Ranges. Following the flight path of this little seabird Justine has paired high country botanics, such as rosehip, with seaweed from the Kaikoura coastline to produce the oceanic fresh Shearwater Gin.
After foraging, Justine carries out the distilling, bottling, labelling and packaging by hand. She even makes the eye-catching natural wood presentation boxes. The result: beautifully presented, delicious artisan gin.
Why North Canterbury? My husband is a fifth-generation sheep farmer on the foothills of Mt Fyffe. His passion for the area has rubbed off on me. There is an untapped resource right here on our doorstep. The beauty, botanics and space all around inspired me to explore the possibilities of what this incredible region can provide.
What is your favourite thing to do in North Canterbury? When I’m not making gin, looking after the farmer (!) and our two young boys, I escape into the hills training for multisport events. I’m in my happy place either on the bike, running or in a kayak, and can find clarity when I’m out there doing it.
Name your top three North Canterbury brands (other than your own!): I love to support anything locally made or produced in Kaikoura and the local area: The A&P Show, our local Kaikoura farmers’ market and the awesome MTB park just up the road.