It would be more than fair to say Napier restaurateur Paul Anderson knows a thing or two about the spirit that has been around for centuries and made in countries as diverse as Scotland and India.

"I spent a lot of time in Scotland and I spent a lot of time in India," he said.

"So that's why I have an Indian restaurant [Indigo in Hastings St] and a few varieties of whisky for people to enjoy at the end of a meal."

More than a few actually - he has 303 different varieties of whisky within a collection believed to be the largest for any restaurant in the country, and a collection which regularly draws people from as far as Auckland and Wellington.


"Simply to order a dram from the collection."

The growing taste for a fine whisky has led Mr Anderson to set up a whisky Appreciation Society which meets monthly in a private dining room above the restaurant, which will also become the site of the planned Amber Bar for people to simply enjoy a dram or two.

A recent Irish whisky Night was so popular he is set to stage a second one on April 11.

"I had collected and enjoyed whisky from all over the world, but they were no good to anybody just sitting in boxes - it is best enjoyed when it is shared and I wanted to share my passion for it with Hawke's Bay."

Mr Anderson said that when he opened the restaurant in 2012 he had 120 bottles on offer from his personal collection - and his quest for whiskys had been undimmed to the stage where he now has the 303.

"There are 109 distilleries in Scotland and I have got whiskys from 106 of them," he said.

Sourcing the last three would be a costly mission, he said, as only small amounts were made.

"You are looking at thousands of dollars for a bottle."

He has his favourites, and they reflect his liking for an aged drop.

A 21-year-old Scottish single malt called Bruichladdich and a 1975 single cask Speyside which he described as "enormously rare".

He said as it was in the unique craft beer industry, the world's tastes were changing and looking for extra variety, and whisky makers were picking that up.

Unlike wine, which continued to age in the bottle, whisky did not - the ageing was all carried out in the barrel.

Among many countries, including New Zealand (he enjoys a Thomsons) he said countries like Japan and India were fine whisky producers.

One of the latter featured "fine Indian barley and Himalayan water."