Industry Experts for Senior Leadership Roles at Reefton Distilling

York Spencer

A modern distillery at the forefront of spirit production in New Zealand, Reefton Distilling Co. employs 22 staff, headed by Founder and Chief Executive Patsy Bass. Bass is supported by Chair, Jo Bransgrove and Independent Directors Carl Carrington, Ngaio Merrick and Martin Smith.

The company is currently in a growth phase and have just announced the appointment of industry experts Gareth McGrail and York Spencer to two newly created senior leadership roles.

With their Little Biddy Gin the No. 2 Premium New Zealand Gin in New Zealand, the company is building capacity at a senior level, investing in the expansion of the domestic market and positioning the brand in key international markets.

Gareth McGrail joins the company as General Manager Sales and York Spencer, as General Manager Brand. Both Gareth and York bring extensive experience in the alcoholic beverages industry, having each held senior commercial roles within the sector.

Gareth Mc Grail has over 20 years of experience in Sales and General Management roles, with a career spanning the premium alcoholic beverage, coffee, and health & beauty sectors. This includes senior roles at premium liquor businesses including Lion, Pernod Ricard, and Sacred Hill.

A skilled negotiator, with extensive category knowledge and proven brand-building experience in multi-category, blue-chip companies, as well as entrepreneurial SME’s in the alcoholic beverage sector, Mc Gail leads Reefton Distilling Co.’s sales and brand ambassador teams both within New Zealand and overseas.

“I love the hospitality industry and enjoy scaling brands that consumers can genuinely engage with. The experiences, friendships made, and conviviality afforded to those lucky enough to work with amazing brands like the Reefton Distilling Co. portfolio is a huge driver,” commented Mc Grail.

York Spencer, General Manager Brand, recently returned to New Zealand, having held global Marketing Director and Country Management roles within multi-national corporations including Heineken and Carlsberg. Most recently York held the role of Global Marketing Director for large international alcoholic beverage company Singha Corporation.

Gareth McGrail and Patsy Bass

Spencer brings extensive international marketing, business development and operations experience to the Reefton Distilling Co. team. York believes that team culture, innovation, digital and customer experience are key competitive differentiators in driving business success.

Spencer’s responsibility includes the Reefton Distilling Co. guest experience, international brand and digital strategy, communications, and event management teams.

“I’m hugely excited to join the Reefton Distilling Co. team and business, which is steeped in rich provenance, authenticity and a global vision that has true potential,” expressed Spencer.

“I’m continually inspired by the beverage category due to its dynamism, product artistry, strategy and people passion. The opportunity to globally grow the Reefton Distilling Co. portfolio was both immense and invigorating, and it is a journey I’m really looking forward to.”

When asked what these new appointments would add to the business, Founder and Chief Executive Patsy Bass noted that both Mc Gail and Spencer bring a wealth of experience and deep knowledge to the team.

“In a few short weeks we have seen the benefit of their extensive networks and commercial pedigree, which I am confident will drive our growth plans.”

Reefton Distilling Co. has continued to experience unprecedented demand for their products, which include Little Biddy Gin, Wild Rain Vodka and Reefton Distilling Co. Liqueurs.

“These two appointments come at a key point in our development, as we near the completion of the fit-out of our new, larger, modern production facility and begin export into overseas markets,” said Bass.

This expansion project will see production move to the distillery’s 1ha site in Reefton later this year and will meet the immediate and longer-term needs of their future growth. The new facility will provide space for increased production, including a brewhouse, increased storage and a bottling room and will see the distillery commence production of their Moonlight Creek Whisky.

Reefton Distilling Co. has been working with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and recently launched their Little Biddy Gin into Australia, starting with home delivery via online sales.

The full range of Reefton Distilling Co. products will be available in Australia this Spring and their first shipment is currently on the way to the United Kingdom ready for the Autumn market in the Northern Hemisphere.