From here and for here: Swanndri x Little Biddy Gin

Although Swanndri and Reefton Distilling Co. craft quite different products, we’ve got a lot in common. Collaborating on a limited edition release of Little Biddy Gin seemed to come about quite naturally. After Swanndri came to to visit the Reefton Distilling Co. during a photoshoot back in September 2020, both teams noticed the similarities in our values and approaches to bringing our respective products to life, and an idea was born. The result is a Limited Edition Little Biddy Gin bearing the iconic Swanndri red and black check – a well-loved pattern often favoured by Reefton Distilling Co. Ambassadors and Water Prospectors Nigel and Steffan MacKay.

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The Origins of Oilskin

There’s nothing worse than getting wet, right? If you think it’s a bit of a niggle now, imagine what it was like for sailors on the high seas or farmers at the far edge of nowhere back in the 1700s.

Back then, sailors, fishermen and anyone else working in foul weather would smear their clothing with oil (or sometimes tar) to help keep them warm and dry. It did a job. But it made clothing heavy, it didn’t last long and it wasn’t breathable.

Then, in 1898, the first modern oilskin garment was made. And what-do-you-know, it was made right here in New Zealand.

A well worn vintage Swanndri oilskin

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Swanndri X Ken Swainson - Swanndri for generations

When Ken Swainson first started farming back in 1964, the Young Farmers Association set him up with an essential piece of farming kit: a Swanndri.

“I was born in ’48. And got it when I was 16. So yeah, it’s getting on a bit.”

Today, almost 60 years on, Ken’s still got that Swanndri – and he still wears it proudly. But it’s more than just a piece of clothing for him now. It’s a symbol of all the things he’s done and seen over the years. And Ken has certainly seen a few things.

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