Bottom's up: Nomad Safaris owner David Gatward-Ferguson spruiking his Wild Diamond gin at Tauranga's Gincredible festival


It was one of the best-timed purchases David Gatward-Ferguson’s ever made.

About a year ago the Nomad Safaris owner and his wife, Amanda, decided to buy Wanaka-based business Wild Diamond, a craft gin and vodka business specialising in batch distillery.

The idea, initially, was to start a family business to involve his son, James, who has mild special needs, and was entering his last year of high school.

Queenstowner Gatward-Ferguson says James, now 18, graduated from high school last year, but isn’t ready to enter the workforce just yet.

‘‘So, we wanted to have a home business that we could include him in.

‘‘We bought it and we didn’t do much with it to start with, but when Covid and lockdown came along, we started getting ready to do all the compliance.

‘‘I don’t think anybody would ever guess how much compliance there is — it goes on forever.’’

The family home’s basement has been converted into an A-grade commercial kitchen, while the still is in a shed, ‘‘so if it does go ‘pop’ it won’t burn the house down’’.

Gatward-Ferguson says the purchase included all the equipment, stock — some of which was sold to Wanaka restaurants once licences came through — and intellectual property, like recipes.

The first batch of gin was ‘‘cooked’’ at the end of January and Gatwood-Ferguson unveiled it at this month’s Queenstown Chamber of Commerce BA5 event, at the Holiday Inn Express.

Last weekend Wild Diamond was presented to punters in Tauranga at ‘Gincredible’, the Bay of Plenty gin festival.

Gatward-Ferguson says they were ‘‘chuffed’’ at the response to their tipple.

‘‘We got lots of wonderful plaudits [and] we sold a fair amount, so we broke even on the event.’’

He’s in talks with Queenstown restaurants and outlets about stocking the gin here, which retails for $79.95.

And he’s also keen to experiment with the vodka — a firm personal favourite so far’s a cucumber and ginseng flavour.

Gatward-Ferguson says he’s determined to get Nomad’s up and running again once borders open but, in the interim, ‘‘we’ll be making gin and vodka’’.