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Swanndri Due West: Reefton Distilling Co

“What’s wrong with rain?”

For Patsy Bass, founder and Chief Executive of Reefton Distilling Co., rain is the most invigorating thing in the world – for us and our environment. It makes sense. Rain really is part of what makes New Zealand so special.


Swanndri Kiaraki Shacket


Of course, it’s one of the reasons Swanndri clothing was first created – to protect Kiwis from the elements. It’s also one of the reasons Patsy started Reefton Distilling Co. The world’s purest water, straight out of the sky and filtered through rock and native New Zealand forest is a huge advantage when you’re making craft gins and other spirits.

That said, there’s more to Reefton than rain. Nestled between the spectacular Paparoa and Victoria ranges on the wild West Coast, Reefton is real New Zealand. A curious mix of historic charm, tourist excitement and natural wonder, it’s home to a small and proud population of incredibly warm, welcoming and genuine people.

Like the MacKay twins, Nigel and Steffan. Local legends, water prospectors, and botanical foragers, they’re also Reefton Distilling Co. brand ambassadors. Clad in their trusty Swanndris from the ‘70s, they twins have spent their lives exploring the surrounding wilderness. They’ve even located natural springs from which the distillery sources its water, as well as the wild-foraged botanicals used to make Reefton Distilling Co.’s award winning Little Biddy Gin.


MacKay twins, Nigel and Steffan


Fresh native botanicals, pristine water and passionate people – all locally sourced. This is the unofficial recipe that sets Reefton Distilling Co. apart. They’re standing out on the world stage because they’re from here, for here. Hand foraged and hand crafted. Transforming the raw elements of this unique place into something wonderfully refined.

In a sense, that’s why the team at Reefton Distilling Co. feel like Swanndri is such a good fit. “We love Swanndri!” says Patsy – and that’s not just because they need the best gear to protect them from the elements (and look great). We’ve actually got a lot in common – a connection to the natural environment around us, a passion for enduring quality, and down-to-earth Kiwi ambition.


Tasting the Gin at Reefton Distilling Co.


Through this ambition, Reefton Distilling Co. is helping revitalise Reefton. Creating jobs and attracting visitors with spirits that reflect the spirit of this place and its people. As Patsy said when she set out on this journey, she wanted to help others see “the magic of Reefton”. She’s certainly done that – and she’s only just getting started.

This is a story of optimism and entrepreneurship, of passionate people seeing opportunity where others just saw rain. It’s a Kiwi success story, and one that we’re proud to play a very small part in – even if it is just protecting the team at Reefton Distilling Co. from that invigorating West Coast weather.



P.S. It turns out the teams at Swanndri and Reefton Distilling Co. get along rather well. So, we’re putting what we’ve got in common to good use. Keep an eye out for some exciting collaborations, coming soon!