General

Cat's eye distillery

Cat's eye distillery

Cat's eye distillery

The first distillery in New Zealand, the Cat's Eye Distillery, was established on the southern outskirts of Nelson by James Young, and his partner John Young, of Young and Sons, who were in the process of building their new "Young and Sons Brewery". The first recorded distillery, on the outskirts of Nelson, was built in 1862 by James Young, on the southern outskirts of Nelson. It was built as a private distillery, known as the "Cat's Eye", and was in operation for nearly 50 years before being taken over by Young and Sons. In the 1880s and 1890s Young and Sons started selling bottled spirits from the distillery, and the "Cat's Eye" brand was launched, with the aim of competing with other brands of whisky, as well as brandy and gin. The distillery was closed, and sold in 1899 to the Nelson and Buller Brewery Company, which eventually amalgamated with New Zealand Breweries in 1905, before finally being taken over by Marland. By the 1960s the distillery was closed and was sold for conversion into a nursing home, before being converted into flats.

History

Early years

The Cat's Eye Distillery was the first commercial distillery to be established in New Zealand, and the second commercial distillery to be built, following the establishment of the Hocken Distillery in Christchurch. It was established in 1862 by James Young and his partner John Young, and was in the process of building their new "Young and Sons Brewery", which had been established in 1852, with the brewery being situated on the southern outskirts of Nelson. The building of the brewery, which had an brewhouse and a distillery, was financed by John Young, and the distillery, which was built by William Young, was situated alongside the brewery.

The distillery was built with two stills, a single wash still and a double wash still. According to the Official Guide to the Excise, published in 1886, the stills had been designed and built by Messrs. G. A. Walker &, Sons. In 1888 a third still was built. The distillery had also had an old still built, which was taken out of use in 1889, and converted into a washback, used to wash mash for the brewery.

Early in the 1880s Young and Sons started bottling their own whisky, and were one of the few manufacturers to use a combination of pot still and column stills. In the 1890s Young and Sons started bottling "The Cat's Eye" brand of whisky, which was produced on the stills of the Cat's Eye Distillery. The distillery was closed in 1899, after it had been taken over by the Nelson and Buller Brewery Company, who subsequently amalgamated with New Zealand Breweries in 1905. The brewery was closed, and the distillery sold to the Nelson and Buller Company, but the distillery remained in the possession of the Nelson and Buller Company. It was taken over by Marland in 1964, but closed in 1968.

James Young and John Young

James Young was the owner of the Young and Sons Brewery, and he was also a partner in the Cat's Eye Distillery. His father William Young had established the brewery in 1852, and had taken on James' brother James Young Jr, after James Young Jr had gone to work for the brewery at the age of 14. James Young and his wife Margaret started producing their own "Cat's Eye" brand of whisky in 1862, and their first bottling was recorded in the Official Guide to the Excise, published in 1886. By the 1890s the Youngs were producing around of whisky per annum, and the company was producing the "Cat's Eye" brand of whisky, as well as "Old King's" brand of whisky, which was produced on the stills of the Hocken Distillery, but they were also producing "Stingray" brand of gin, as well as a "Stingray" brand of whisky.

In 1886 the Nelson and Buller Brewery Company, and the Nelson and Buller Whisky Company, both of which were established by the Nelson and Buller Brewery Company in the early 1880s, bought a licence to bottle and sell "Cat's Eye" brand of whisky, and bottles of the "Cat's Eye" brand, bottled by the Nelson and Buller Whisky Company, had been shipped to Auckland from the distillery. By the 1890s, and the Youngs were producing of "Cat's Eye" brand of whisky, which was marketed under the "Cat's Eye" brand name.

"Cat's Eye" brand of whisky

The "Cat's Eye" brand of whisky was produced on the stills of the Cat's Eye Distillery. The "Cat's Eye" brand of whisky was advertised in the Official Guide to the Excise, which was published in 1886, and was described as being distilled from "Old King's" and "Stingray" brand of malted barley. In the guide the distillery was described as being situated on the "southern outskirts of Nelson", with the distillery having been built in 1862, and being "situated on a property". In 1886 the distillery was described as being "a considerable size", with the stills being described as "a good sized double still and a smaller single still".

The "Cat's Eye" brand of whisky was distilled in the "oldest" part of the distillery, with the double wash still being built around the same time as the first distillery in Nelson, the Hocken Distillery, being built in 1862. The "Cat's Eye" brand of whisky was one of the first whiskies to be distilled in Nelson, and the first in New Zealand to be produced on a continuous still. It was also the first distillery to be established in New Zealand, and the first to be able to produce "Old King's" brand of whisky, which was the brand of "old" malted barley, the only malt used in the production of whisky, at that time. The first batch of "Cat's Eye" brand of whisky was made in 1862, and was