New New Zealand Based Craft Beer Launches To The On-Trade


Monteith’s Brewing Company, the iconic and oldest craft brewery in New Zealand, made its debut in the UK on-trade on the 11th September by showcasing a range of four beers, available with immediate effect via HEINEKEN® UK.

Established by Stewart Monteith in 1868 for the pioneering gold mining communities on the country’s South Island West Coast, this heritage brand has long been loved by a series of successive generations and is now recognised as a leader in the New Zealand craft beer market.

The launch event took place at the New Zealand-inspired restaurant Kopapa in Convent Garden, where a host of media and Kiwis joined the team at HEINEKEN for an exclusive introductory food-pairing session hosted by beer expert, award-winning beer writer, comedian and one half of the ‘Thinking Drinkers’, Ben McFarland.

Speaking about the brand event Ben McFarland said: “It’s never been a better time to be a discerning beer drinker in the UK where consumers are enjoying an unprecedented level of choice in terms of flavours, styles and drinking experiences.

“With a plethora of highly sought after hop varieties and a thriving craft brewing culture, New Zealand has emerged as one of the world’s most exciting brewing nations in recent years and Monteith’s, whose history dates back nearly 150 years, has been instrumental in this.

“Back in New Zealand, Monteith’s has been celebrating beer’s kinship with cuisine for some time now and having partnered with Kopapa, a restaurant owned and ran by Kiwis, it was interesting to see how chef Peter Gordon dovetailed Monteith’s quartet of beers with a range of different dishes.”

Pedro Cruz, Manager Export Western Europe, of HEINEKEN adds, “With consumer interest in the indie beer market continuing to accelerate, we are delighted to bring the unique and refreshing Monteith’s range to the UK. Even before its UK launch date the brand is already developing a powerful buzz on social media across the UK as craft beer fans eagerly anticipate the arrival of the ultimate expression of New Zealand’s proud brewing heritage.

Monteith’s has developed a cult following outside its home nation and is perfectly suited to today’s consumer demands for more from a beer, particularly in the versatility of pairing Monteith’s variants with contemporary food options.

The combination of great flavour, unique heritage and a natural affinity with food makes Monteith’s an exciting and appealing new option for UK restaurants and bars to offer to their customers.”

The Monteith’s range presented in 33cl bottles:

Monteith’s Bohemian Pilsner Beer – An eastern European-style lager with immense flavour and enormous hop character, this premium beer leaves you with a smooth, clean and bitter taste and pairs particularly well with tomato-based pasta dishes or shellfish.

Monteith’s Southern Pale Ale – The intensity of North West American hops with the liveliness of New Zealand hops, filtered to give a clear straw appearance. Beginning with a zesty citrus aroma, this pale ale has a full malt flavour and crisp finish, pairing well with fish and poultry dishes or ripe Camembert.

Monteith’s Summer Ale – The malts give it the smooth heart, the single hop and ginger its touch of spice. A little rata honey finishes things off nicely, leaving a truly refreshing taste experience and it’s great with summer salads, stir-fries or creamy Brie, pine nuts and honey oat bread.

Monteith’s India Pale Ale – With a fruity aroma, this ale has a distinct Kiwi taste thanks to the special New Zealand hops. With plenty of rich maltiness and a touch of bitter this premium beer leaves you wanting more and is perfect with fish ‘n’ chips, as well as creamy cheeses.

All Monteith’s beers are naturally brewed without artificial additives or preservatives. In fact, the only additives are ingredients like rata honey.

Available from HEINEKEN UK.

For more information on Monteith’s please visit or visit

Smoke and Oakum’s Gunpowder Tasting Notes

Smoke & Oakum's Gunpowder Rum

I do love my rum. Such a variety, different styles and flavour experiences to be savoured on each sip. Coming across Smoke and Oakum though, gave a slant that all rum enthusiasts should experience in their lives.

Smoke and Oakum from New Zealand have within their portfolio a gunpowder rum, recreated to a style that was said to be common almost 300 years ago. Back then though, the invention of the column still to refine the rum that we enjoy today had yet to be discovered, resulting in rough, coarse spirits. To mask this, sweeteners, herbs, spices, tobacco and said to be a personal favourite of Blackbeard the Pirate, gunpowder were all used. These days, spices are more prominent within rums, hailing its own category within the rum world, but gunpowder has its back history too, being famously used to test the relative proof of the spirit dispensed to sailors in the navy.
If the mixture failed to flare up it was deemed ‘under-proof’. It is supposed that this test is the origin of the concepts of ‘proof’ and ‘navy-strength’. Rum that had been ‘proved’ (i.e. would flare up when mixed with gunpowder and ignited) was deemed as being at or above ‘navy-strength’. Over-proof is usually defined as being at or above 57% abv, while the Royal Navy’s definition of ‘Navy-Strength’ is set at 54.5% abv.

Today’s offering of gunpowder rum by Smoke and Oakum’s is a blend of rums flavoured with peppers, calumet ‘tobacco’ (a substitute for tobacco smoked by Native Americans) and traditional black gunpowder, before being flavoured with an ingredient that gives the appearance of gunpowder grains, and hand-bottled within bottles shaped in reference to the 17th and 18th centuries. All bottles are hand labelled so each bottle is unique.

So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Smoke and Oakum’s Gunpowder – 51.6%

Dry smoke aromas on the nose, with slight chocolate notes coming through. A sharp start of hot jalapeños creating a long, lingering spice finish.

An experience on its own, and goes equally well with one of these –

Black Bellamy

Glass –


Ingredients – 

30 ml Gunpowder Rum
Barspoon fig conserve
15 ml Apricot brandy
7 ml Orgeat
Orange wedge
Cranberry juice

Method –

Shake all except the juice and pour into a tall glass – add more ice if needed and top with cranberry. Garnish with an orange wedge and a grind of black pepper.

Gunpowder isn’t the only variation from Smoke and Oakum’s available, with a cherry gunpowder rum and J.Thomas’ English Curacao a part of their portfolio. I’m yet to see it available to purchase in the UK, although you can catch it in a couple of rum heavy bars I’m sure.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Quina-Fina Tasting Notes

Quina Fina

I’ve featured two brands from New Zealand on my site in the form of Lighthouse gin and Broken Shed vodka, but now there’s a great accompaniment in the mixer category in the form of Quina-Fina.

Quina Fina can take its inspiration from the history of tonic water. You may or may not know, but tonic water began life in the forests of Loja Province in Ecuador around the 1600’s. Jesuit Monks used the bark of the cinchona tree which was rich in quinine to fight and treat both fever and malaria. The cinchona seedlings were exported to British Colonial India where the ‘gin and tonic’ was to be born (Indian tonic water ring a bell?), with the original recipe calling for gin, quinine extract, lemon juice, sugar cane and soda water. In 2009 however, Quina-Fina had the opportunity to visit Loja in Ecuador and support the growing of cinchona for their tonic water, whilst also contributing towards natural research and a re-population programme.

So how does this New Zealand tonic water fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Quina-Fina – 0%

Light and soft on the nose, with aromas of lemon and hints of bark coming through. A low carbonation on the palate creates a light flavour of lemon with a thin texture. Enjoys a hit of quinine near the end.


Of course, it makes a perfect one of these –


Glass –


Ingredients – 

45 ml Lighthouse Gin
Quina Fina Tonic Water
Wedge Lemon & Orange

Method –

Add Gin and all citrus, fill with ice and top with Quina Fina Tonic Water. Stir and serve. Garnish with rinds of lemon & orange.

or maybe one of these –

Long Negroni
Long Negroni

Long Negroni

Glass – 


Ingredients –

20 ml Lighthouse Gin
20 ml Dry Red Vermouth
20 ml Campari
Quina Fina Tonic Water

Method – 

Add equal parts Lighthouse gin, dry red vermouth and Campari. Top the glass with large ice cubes and Quina Fina Tonic Water. Stir, then garnish with an orange wedge, and orange rind.

Some tasty cocktail ideas to try. Hopefully Quina-Fina will be making its presence known around the UK in the coming weeks and months.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Broken Shed Vodka and Lighthouse Gin Tasting Notes

Lighthouse Gin

New Zealand is a country you expect to grab many a fantastic wine from, but lately two spirits have been creating a bit of a stir. The Black Dog Wine Agency have brought to our shores Broken Shed vodka and Lighthouse gin, and, after a little digging to find out what all the fuss is about, I present to you a little about each, as well as some tasting notes and recipes.

The first up is Lighthouse gin.

In 2005, a small batch distillery named Greytown Fine Distillates was formed and set about creating traditionally distilled spirits. Inspired by the Cape Palliser Lighthouse located at the southernmost tip of the Wairarapa and the southernmost tip of the North Island of New Zealand, the brainchild of Neil Catherall, the company’s distiller and master craftsman, and Andrew Wright, a local businessman, had a vision and drive combined with the energy and enthusiasm of distiller James Graham to form the core team responsible for bringing Lighthouse gin to our shores.

After Neil researched and experimented with many botanicals, he decided upon nine including the dried leaves from the unique New Zealand botanicals kawa kawa, together with the zest of New Zealand-grown navel oranges and Yen Ben lemons. Made by hand, Lighthouse gin is created in the classic ‘distilled dry gin’ tradition and uses a 200-litre copper pot still, which Neil designed himself, with a double distillation process.

So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Lighthouse – 42%

Fresh nose with soft citrus and herb aromas blending well. Very soft on the palate with a slight sharpness near the end, although it mellows instantly. Slight flavours of vanilla and citrus, but a slow developing spice lingers.

Fantastic to sip, but also creates a rather good cocktail –

Broken Shed VodkaAngler’s Cocktail 

Glass – 

Old Fashioned

Ingredients – 

40 ml Lighthouse Gin
1 dash Grenadine syrup
2 dashes bitters
3 dashes orange bitters

Method – 

Shake all ingredients with cracked ice, pour contents into an old-fashioned glass over ice cubes, and serve.

Not a bad gin at all, which you can purchase here. It’s also award-winning too, grabbing Silver at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in both 2011 and 2012.

Now onto its New Zealand friend and Broken Shed vodka.

Broken Shed vodka is based in Wanaka, a small lake town in the mountains of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. As you can tell from its name, Broken Shed Vodka did start itself within an old bruised-up shed, although its now more a tasting centre than laboratory.

Broken Shed is created using whey (an excess sugar in milk production) which is widely available and is a natural source for distillation in New Zealand. Two water sources are also used, one from the North island and one from the South, and craft blend them during production before being four times distilled.

A no-nonsense vodka, but how does it fare?

Broken Shed – 40%

A soft creamy nose that leads onto a softer palate. A warming end that lingers with a touch of sweetness. Well-balanced.

A great sipping vodka, that can be purchased here, and one that I wouldn’t create a cocktail out of for fear of masking the flavour profile. Broken Shed is also award-winning, awarded Silver in the 2011 International Wine and Spirits Competition and Silver at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Both of these are worth a try, more so as relaxing sipping drink, but the Lighthouse does throw in some unusual cocktails to try. See, New Zealand isn’t necessarily all about wine!

Check out more photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.