A man known as the godfather of Australian whisky was in Gore over the weekend sampling a drop of the Hokonui’s finest and touring the Hokonui Moonshine Museum.
Bill Lark combined a trip to the Burt Munro Challenge with a whisky-scouting tour.
He said he was visiting whisky operations in New Zealand in a “scoping exercise”, as he would be involved in an Australian-made television series focusing on whisky.
Mr Lark said the Hokonui Moonshine Museum was “fantastic”.
“We had a wonderful time with Jim [Geddes],” Mr Lark said.
When Mr Lark started a distillery in Tasmania in the early 1990s, he was granted the first whisky-making licence applied for since 1839, he said.
When asked how he rated the Hokonui whisky he answered “wow whee”.
“It’s fantastic – it’s looking good for the future.”
He is keen to add Gore to the list of places included in the Australian television series to be called Living Dram.
He and fellow Australian Greg Ramsay will tour Australia and New Zealand on motorbikes, visiting people and places associated with the production of whisky.
The series would begin in Tasmania.
He joked the series could have been called The Two Fat Ugly Bikers, a take-off of British series The Two Hairy Bikers.
Gore district arts and heritage curator Jim Geddes said Mr Lark had mentored many others, not only in Tasmania but other parts of Australia and the United States.
“He is very, very highly regarded, not only in Australia.”
Tasmania had a huge whisky industry for which Mr Lark was largely responsible.
“He’s a very significant figure, Mr Geddes said.
“He also tried some of our spirit we’ve been working on.”
He enjoyed the tipple, he said.
Mr Lark will be back in the South in 18 months’ time when the TV series is filmed.
Gore Visitor Centre senior consultant Renatta Hardy said the centre had only two days’ notice of Mr Lark’s visit.
He flew into Christchurch and rode south to Invercargill on a motorbike as part of a group attending the Burt Munro Challenge, Mrs Hardy said.
He called into Gore on the way back and toured the Hokonui Moonshine Museum.