Home-brewed beer, wine popular in NZ

Wellington, January 7:

Thousands in New Zealand make their own whisky, beer and wine in one of the few developed countries where it is perfectly legal to have a home still and produce liquor for personal use.

A century ago, illicit stills producing moonshine whisky were common in the remote and rugged Hokonui Hills in the south, where strict church-going immigrants from Scotland instituted localised prohibition that lasted for 51 years. At least one rogue distiller claimed his Hokonui whisky was 85 per cent proof. Another put a skull and cross bones on his label to demonstrate its potency.

Today, tourists can buy Old Hokonui whisky, legally made to the original recipe, at the Moonshine Museum in the nearby town of Gore, 64-km from New Zealand’s southernmost city Invercargill. But throughout the rest of the country, thousands of people make their own whisky, beer and wine.

With government taxes accounting for nearly half the cost of a bottle of 40 per cent proof spirits in a liquor store and a third of the price of a two-litre bottle of beer, it is a very attractive proposition for drinkers who prefer a home hobby to visiting the local pub or bar.

The only restriction is that their production is for personal consumption and not for sale. A number of websites proclaim — “We can su-pply you with all you need to make top quality beer, spirits and wine.” They offer a range of manufacturing equipment and advice, starting with a basic stainless steel still with all the ingredients.