© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2022

Be ready to see gin prices rise - distilleries aren't happy

Caitlin Clarke
gin story photo
Tom Finn owner of Herrick Creek distillery   Caitlin Clarke

Distillery owners are not happy about the rise in excise tax which is putting them on the backfoot of a very competitive international market. 

Christchurch is a city full of passionate business owners who have ventured into a competitive market in pursuit of the perfect homebrewed spirit. 

Alcohol in the country is subject to excise tax. Last year laws changed so that it would rise proportionately to the consumer price index. 

The result is alcohol getting more expensive for everyone to taste and businesses paying more to get it to people's mouths. 

Anthony Michallik is the founder of the Distilled Spirits Aotearoa Society and a shareholder in the local distillery Curiosity Gin. 

He says the high excise is putting the New Zealand distilleries at a point of disadvantage. 

“Small businesses in other countries are paying lower excise fees meaning more money is coming back into their businesses. Every dollar counts in a competitive market.”

The current excise tax for a bottle of gin is just $16.80 for a 700ml bottle. 

Due to the recent law change, the excise tax will be rising proportionately to the consumer price index raising the fee by close to $2 per bottle. 

New Zealand is home to over 100 local gins that come from small distilleries.  

The gin business boomed after its popularity soared in 2016 following suit after the trend in England. 

Anthony says it’s a great opportunity for tourism. 

“People travel around the country just to go to distilleries just like they do vineyards. To put these businesses by increasing expenditures is a shame as we want the industry to grow.”

Anthony also started Gintopia, a yearly event and competition with local distilleries. He says it’s been a great milestone in celebrating the craft and increasing visibility and tourism. 

For many like Peter Hall, owner of Lyttelton Distillery, and Tom Finn from Herrick Creek Distillery, venturing into the spirit market was a big leap of faith. 

It took Peter three years of perfecting the craft and his recipes before he was able to approach someone to sell his product. 

Anthony from Curiosity Gin just broke even after five years of building and expanding the business. 

The society is preparing a proposal which they hope will get attention soon.