A decision by The New Zealand Whisky Company is due next month on whether it will go ahead with plans for a distillery in either Oamaru or Dunedin.

In the meantime, the company is also preparing to launch four products on the US market by July, having gone into partnership with a San Francisco distiller and importer, Anchor Distilling Company.

Chief executive Troy Trewin said several options for distilling whisky, to replenish diminishing stocks, were still being considered.

Of the original 450 barrels that were bought, about 180, or 40%, remained, Mr Trewin said.


The company could continue contract distilling, which it began doing in January, albeit in small quantities so far, or build a small still in Oamaru or a larger one in Dunedin.

''The board is still very keen to dramatically increase production to replenish our single-malt stocks, before the old stock runs out in four to five years,'' Mr Trewin said.

What is to be decided at April's board meeting was the level of investment, which could range from $500,000 to around $3million, and whether annual production should be 30,000 litres or up to 100,000 litres.

All would be barrelled, of which about 75% would be bottled eventually.

''We're expecting to have a clearer picture by April,'' Mr Trewin said.

While the official launch of The New Zealand Whisky Company in the US is not until July, Mr Trewin said the brand would be at trade shows and sampling would be arranged.

The company remains private and Mr Trewin ruled out any stock exchange listing to raise capital, as the enterprise was probably ''not big enough'', but he said an injection of private equity might be sought in future.

Company founder and now 100% shareholder Greg Ramsay, of Tasmania, initially bought 450 barrels in October 2010, which have since been in a bonded warehouse in Oamaru, while several distillery options have been mooted.


The barrels originated from the Wilsons distillery at Willowbank in Dunedin, which closed in 1995, under ownership of Seagrams.

The 450 barrels, some of the last of 30,000 made and stored, were made up of 225 barrels of single malt which was about 18 to 24 years old and branded Lammerlaw in the past, and 225 barrels of the former Wilsons brand, which were at least 12 years old.

In January 2012, the company had about 360 barrels left and it is now down to about 180 of the 200-litre barrels.

The company uses US bourbon barrels and New Zealand red wine barrels for ageing, but they have to go to Tasmania for charring by coopers.