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Lush Guide to Cardrona Whisky

Cardrona Whisky has been making waves with their single malt whiskies since they opened their doors and have never stopped. Now with their new expression, they are truly in full flight!

Cardrona Whisky Distillery with Desiree

Cardrona Distillery, located in the Cardrona Valley, near Wanaka in the South Island of New Zealand was founded in 2015 by Desiree Reid. She began a successful career in the dairy industry. However, her love for whisky won over and she decided to pursue her dream of opening a distillery.

The distillery’s first whisky was released in 2018, winning numerous awards, including a Gold Medal at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition for its Just Hatched Single Malt Whisky. Cardrona has also received recognition from Whisky Magazine as one of the “best 50 drams ever reviewed.” Also to top it off, they won the Green Distillery of the Year award at the 2020 New Zealand Spirits Award.

Cardrona Distillery is committed to sustainability and its production processes are designed to minimize its environmental impact. The distillery uses renewable energy sources, including solar power, and is actively involved in reforestation projects in the Cardrona Valley.

As for the bird-themed names of the whiskies, Cardrona’s mascot is the New Zealand falcon, the Kārearea. If you are lucky, you might catch it watching over the rackhouse!

Cardrona Whisky Distillery - Stillhouse

How is Cardrona Whisky Made

The production process starts like most whiskies with the mashing of malted barley, water, and yeast. The mash is then left to ferment for a few days to convert the sugars into alcohol. The fermented mash is then distilled twice in copper pot stills.

The magic happens when the new make spirit is then transferred to oak barrels for maturation. Cardrona uses a combination of different casks and that is where the genius of Sarah Elsom, the Head Distiller, shines.

Cardrona Whisky Distillery - rickhouse

Cardrona Whisky Styles

Cardrona Distillery produces a range of whisky styles, each with its own singular flavor profile.

Just Hatched Solera

Just hatched is the youngest of the distillery’s range, celebrating three years in barrel! Born out of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, Just Hatched is a bouquet of honey, spices and vanilla! The whisky is aged using the solera method, which involves blending whisky from different casks of varying ages to create a consistent flavor profile.

Growing Wings Solera

Growing Wings Solera is their 5-year-old whisky made from a combination of ex-bourbon casks and ex-Oloroso sherry butts! The whisky is also made using the solera method. The result is a smooth and complex whisky with of “pecan pie, loaded with treacle and vanilla bean clotted cream.”

Full Flight

This is Cardrona’s first Single Cask Release Bourbon matured in an ex-Breckenridge Bourbon cask for seven years. It’s a high 66.9% ABV with, as Cardrona describes it, the flavors of “honeyed Central Otago apricots, seasoned with applewood and vanilla are finished with a dollop of rich cream custard.”

Other Cardrona spirits

If you listened to my Lush Life episode with Sarah Elsom, Cardrona’s Head Distiller, you would know that Cardrona also makes other spirits, like vodka, liqueurs and gin. They are especially proud of their new sherry, Cardrona Full Flight Single Cask Release Sherry bottling matured for seven years in a González Byass Oloroso sherry cask then added to Pedro Ximénez sherry cask.

Why Lush Life loves it

Cardrona produces a singularly tiny amount of malt spirit each year, just a barrel a day, according to founder, Desiree Reid. “Our sole focus is to make great whisky, with the very best ingredients and craftsmanship. This allows the distillery to focus on quality rather than quantity. Overall, Cardrona whisky is a must-try for any whisky enthusiast.

Where you can buy Cardrona Whisky

Full Flight Cardrona Whisky

UK: You can find Cardrona at Whiskey Exchange

USA: You can find it at Reserve Bar

Try one of these Cardrona cocktails:

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Lush Guide to Cardrona Whisky

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