The world of drinks is constantly expanding and evolving, with the next big thing just as likely to come from a young upstart producer as an established name. We introduced the Rising Star award in 2022 to showcase a spirits producer you need to have on your radar for the coming year, and for 2024, as chosen by our panel of industry experts, that producer is Thomson Whisky.
In 2009, Rachael and Mathew Thomson began their journey into whisky production and founded Thomson Whisky as an independent bottler. Born out of creativity and passion for whisky they started selecting casks from Willowbank distillery to craft whiskies that New Zealanders could be proud of, before launching their own long-awaited distillery in 2014.
For years before Thomson Whisky was born, Mathew Thomson had been experimenting with smoking barley and home distilling, exploring the effects of manuka wood smoke. This passion for flavour has remained at the centre of Thomson Whisky’s distillation process and has played a crucial role in defining what New Zealand whisky is, and where it could go. Maturing in ex-bourbon barrels and New Zealand wine casks, and using native manuka wood and South Island peat for smokier characters, the distillery creates bold, dynamic whisky with a trailblazing spirit.
Made using 100% New Zealand-grown barley smoked with native manuka wood, this is a smoky and spicy single malt with a timeless character. The palate is filled with notes of cinnamon, clove, sweet wood smoke and honey, perfect for making a smoky Old Fashioned.
Bold and smoky, this whisky is made using native barley, smoked with peat from the South Island, and matured in ex-bourbon barrels. The result is notes of sweet vanilla, caramel, peat smoke and iodine throughout the palate and lingering in the finish. This is a great choice for peat lovers eager to discover a new style of smoky whisky.
An award-winning whisky that gets its name from the two types of casks it is matured in – refill American white oak casks and European oak casks that previously held New Zealand red wine. The result is a fruity single malt, with notes of caramelised fruits, red berries, salty sea air, apricots and warm spices.
Bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange, this manuka wood-smoked single malt is a perfect encapsulation of Thomson Whisky’s creativity. Made with 100% New Zealand barley, it offers notes of manuka honey, cinnamon, clove, lemon zest and toasted hazelnuts.
This whisky was inspired by head distiller Mat Thomson’s background in brewing, this bottling exclusively for The Whisky Exchange is made with a traditional saison yeast, often used in European breweries, that brings a fruity, nutty edge to Thomson’s rich, oily style. Matured in a French oak cask from Tronçais, that previously held New Zealand Pinot Noir, it brings notes of dark fruits, autumn leaves, fruitcake and hazelnut chocolate throughout the palate.