The award-winning, Marlborough-based distillery Elemental Distillers is now partnered with Proof & Company to accelerate its brand growth and distribution presence in its New Zealand home market. The new partnership will also see Elemental’s Roots Marlborough Dry Gin become the first New Zealand spirit to be available in the ecoSPIRITSTM low carbon, low waste distribution technology.

The new partnership is a natural fit as both companies share a vision centred on the rise of craft and local spirits, industry education and brand independence in the region. It also comes hot off Roots Gin’s recent “Best Overall Gin 2021” win at New Zealand Spirit Awards in June.

The picturesque, thoroughly sustainable Elemental distillery in Vines Village, Marlborough.

Founded in 2019 by Ben Leggett and Simon Kelly, Elemental has rapidly emerged as one of New Zealand’s premier craft distillers, producing gins, bitters and liqueurs in the heart of the internationally recognised Marlborough wine region.

With a hospitality career that took him from bar back to bartender to brand ambassador in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Leggett knew from an early age that he eventually wanted to build his own spirit company. When the time came, Leggett chose to partner up with Kelly, a United Kingdom native who had left the corporate world for a 15-year career in wine production, commercial and brand management. Simon holds the Diploma of Wines and Spirits from the WSET and is an Associate of the International Wine and Spirits Trust.

Elemental Distillery Founders Ben Leggett (left) and Simon Kelly.

The duo set out to create both a gin brand and a craft producer grounded by the principles of seasonality, traceability, and sustainability. The distillery itself is built from repurposed shipping containers, utilises solar power for distilling and production, and employs a water reticulation system drawing well water from below the distillery. The result is a superb low carbon craft gin, as well as a range of bitters and craft liqueurs.

As luck would have it, on the day of the first run of Roots Gin Leggett’s wife Louisa gave birth to their first son, Toby. The first bottle of Roots Gin, bottled on Toby’s birthday, was aptly named ‘Toby’s Cut’ and is now kept at the distillery. It will be released on Toby’s 18th birthday.

Roots Gin is a crisp, robust London Dry that is batch distilled in a 200L pot still after a 24-hour activated maturation in a sustainable whey neutral base spirit. Whey spirit is sourced sustainably from local dairy production, making use of a by-product of milk processing. Roots Gin botanicals are entirely locally sourced in New Zealand, with the exception of juniper berries that are wild foraged in North Macedonia. The juniper base is supplemented with ‘Golden Special’ grapefruit from Gisborne, New Zealand, coriander seed from Hawke’s Bay, organic Motueka hops from Nelson, wild-foraged gorse flower from Marlborough, and wild-foraged Kawakawa berries from the Kāpiti Coast.

The Roots Gin botanicals consist of grapefruit, coriander seed, organic Motueka hops, wild-foraged gorse flower, and wild foraged Kawakawa berries. All sourced locally, Elemental Distillers pride themselves on seasonality and traceability of their ingredients.
Foraging for the local gorse flower, from the local Marlborough region.

A visit to the distillery itself is a wonderful experience if you find yourself in the Marlborough region. Visitors can enjoy personalised tours and tastings with the distillers themselves and purchase bottles from the cellar door. Each September, locals are invited by Elemental to volunteer for a day to pick local wild gorse flowers from a high plateau in the Kaituna Forestry range. October sees the distillery hosting the annual ‘Grapefruit A-Peel,’ when freshly harvested Golden Special grapefruits are peeled for the next year’s runs of gin production. Volunteers for both events are compensated in barbecue and Roots Gin & tonics.

To accelerate the growth of Roots Gin, Proof & Company will first expand its distribution footprint in the on-trade and premium national retail channels, while launching the gin in its ecoSPIRITS pouring program across New Zealand. The new partnership will also see the brand take on a broader presence in New Zealand’s strong independent retail landscape. Strong trade and consumer demand for local spirits will provide a tailwind for this next phase of expansion.

Damian Kaehler, General Manager, Australia & New Zealand at Proof & Company

“Roots Marlborough Dry Gin is a product driven on values of sustainability, traceability and transparency. The story of Roots is one of not only each botanical selected, but of how they’ve been grown, when they were harvested and how we ultimately use them,” notes Leggett, “With aligned principles of sustainability alongside a passion for premium craft spirits, we’re excited to join the Proof & Company portfolio and the ecoSPIRITS technology platform.”

“The growth of our New Zealand business has been exceptional, and that momentum will continue with the further rollout of the ecoSPIRITS. Local craft spirit brands have experienced the strongest growth, with consumers choosing to support local where they can,” notes Damian Kaehler, General Manager, Australia & New Zealand at Proof & Company, “We are delighted to partner with the great team at Elemental Distillers to represent Roots Gin at home and, eventually, around the Asia Pacific region. Together, we will be able to accelerate the growth of one of New Zealand’s finest spirits.”

For more information, head to www.proofandcompany.com

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