Patsy Bass, Founder - Reefton Distilling Co. artwork
Still Magic

Patsy Bass, Founder - Reefton Distilling Co.

  • S4E7
  • 1:06:16
  • May 24th 2021

Episode 38 - Guardianship & Legacy

This podcast describes an epic call to adventure; an absolute must-listen for anyone considering a future in craft spirits.

Patsy Bass is the founder and CEO of Reefton Distilling Co. located on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island, in Patsy's hometown of Reefton, population ~ 1,000 ... on a good day. 

Despite a family move to Christchurch, in efforts to take on opportunities there, one thing was truly clear to Patsy from the age of 16; you can never take Reefton out of the lass. After all, Reefton is her turangawaewae, a place to stand.

Patsy's formative years and a successful project delivery career were anchored in Christchurch, but the unfulfilled yearning for Reefton – one shared with her siblings – never wavered. The question then became how do I return home?

Patsy and her husband Shane Thrower found themselves planning and considering a few business ideas to support their return. These included ventures with gold, mountain biking and as a bit of a throw-away giggle, a distillery. And this, from a tee-totaller born on a former brewery site.

The word “serendipity” is often used to describe how a chance meeting can influence one’s journey through life. And so it was for Patsy, via a casual chat with local legends Steffan and Nigel MacKay on Broadway, Reefton’s main street.

This prompted Patsy to forgo all ideas in favour of a distillery and crafting a business case. An effusive business case review from a long-term mentor led to Patsy taking a flight to Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city.

A meeting with some interested parties took place and Patsy received directions that would change her life, her family’s life and the lives of an entire town.

Think Bigger

The impact was so profound, the long-time tee-totaller felt compelled to have a tipple. And the rest, as you will see, is history. That is, history in the making.

Reefton Distilling Co. are noted for their award-winning gin range, inspired by mining legend Bridget Goodwin – aka Little Biddy – and Wild Rain Vodka inspired by rain that falls at night. There are plans for a whiskey too, one that pays homage to another local legend, George Fairweather Moonlight.

Join me and meet the most fabulous Patsy Bass, a craft spirits leader with an unrivalled sense of purpose, and a 100-year vision to revitalise a town at a pace and scale unseen in decades.

Patsy epitomises the Still Magic ethos superbly thus:

Be bold. Enjoy yourselves. Create your spirits narrative

Still Magic paperback, digital and audio copies available from your favourite online stores

Additional Podcast Reference Links

Reefton Distilling Co. website

Little Biddy Gin website



Host: Marcel Thompson    


Still Magic website

[email protected]

Guest contributor: Patsy Bass

Voiceovers: Jules Brooke. 

Contact here Jules Brooke

Editor: Dave Stokes. 

Contact here Author2Audio

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Still Magic

Hosted by award winning gin distiller and educator Marcel Thompson, the Still Magic podcast provides insights concerning gin making, gin producing, gin distilling, gin manufacturing, gin commercialising, gin tasting, gin drinking gin steeping and everything else in between.

Each podcast episode brings gin's centuries-long history to life in a contemporary setting, season by season. This includes assessing an array of different gins in efforts to determine what makes a great gin.

Local and international distillers share their insights as well. You'll receive a rare glimpse into the energy, passion, and desire that manifests itself as wonderful products people enjoy worldwide.

Collective experiences from episode guests will show that the following principles are as applicable to a gin making journey as any other new, exciting, or challenging endeavour

  •         Simplicity is best;
  •         Less is more;
  •         Inexperience is no barrier to success.

Be bold. Enjoy yourselves. Let's create the next gin narrative...