'Surpassed expectations': Rifters owners Hamish Bourke, left, and Stu Clark


A pair of Arrowtown builders have nailed gold and silver at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition and two silvers at the New Zealand Spirits Awards.

Hamish Bourke and Stu Clark launched their Rifters label in the latter’s workshop only last July.

Clark describes their Quartz Gin, which took gold and silver in the respective competitions, as ‘‘Central Otago in a bottle’’.

‘‘It features genuinely local flavours in cluding wild thyme, elderberry and manuka.

‘‘Our water supply comes from the lakes and rivers of the Southern Alps so it’s a great, fresh drop.’’

The pair’s Original Dry gin won silvers at both comps.

‘‘San Francisco is the largest competition of its kind in the world,’’ Bourke says.

‘‘We knew our gin was good so we thought we’d give entering a nudge, but to take home a gold and a silver surpassed even our expectations.

‘‘To follow that up with two medals here at home is unbelievable, these acknowledgements have far exceeded what we ever thought we would achieve.’’

Clark got the idea of making gin when touring distilleries in Britain during a family holiday in 2018 — he and Bourke started trialling recipes the following year.

The San Fran win, Clark says, gives them credibility.

‘‘We’ve gone from being two chippies having a crack at gin to cracking the world gin scene … it’s exciting.’’