Life Worth Funding - An Oakura Innovation

Published November 06, 2019

Janet Charteris - one of Oakura’s daughters has returned home to her roots to set up a boutique business distilling rum. And what better place could you choose than the pristine environment of the Kaitake Ranges.

Janet has built her distillery called LWF Distilling on her parents, Bill and Christine’s property alongside their macadamia orchard. The still is a piece of artwork in its own right, with gleaming copper and stainless steel equipment. The still is yet to be named but they are universally female - possibly because they are curvaceous, are expensive to run and a little bit temperamental! The day I visited the still was midway through its distilling process, converting molasses to alcohol and was emitting the most heavenly yeasty, caramel smell.

The journey from Oakura and back again has been an interesting journey. Janet has worked all over the world and among other things funded her own MBA in Melbourne, worked four years in London, eight in Melbourne and three years in Auckland. Her career has been in marketing and sales but her passion has been strategies for social entrepreneurship. This will continue with a commitment to Kiva (a third world financing initiative) in Oakura with her own business.

When Janet decided to come back to Oakura she started researching distilling and travelled around Australia visiting boutique/craft brewers, did an International Brewers and Distillation course, gathered as much information on craft brewing and running a distilling business as possible. Only then did Janet begin the back breaking job of building the distillery - still, factory, water system, branding and bottling, creating the recipe and finally producing the first bottle of white rum. Janet says she has never done so much cleaning - everything has to be pristine and sterile - a never ending job of washing!

So to the product - white rum. Yum! The acidity in Janet’s five times filtered rain water, collected on site, along with the molasses gives the rum what Janet calls “an element of funk” commonly known in the trade as “rum funk”. I call it notes of caramel, coconut and pineapple. It certainly isn’t a bland mass produced rum commonly found in bottle shops. It is delicious in chocolate mousse and mojito’s and if you have a penchant for rum - on the rocks!

Janet launched LWF Distilling in mid October with a small event featuring live music, local food and tours of the distillery. Tickets are available on for a second behind the scenes event on the 10th November. The distillery cellar door will be open at selected times during the Oakura Arts Trail, Garden Festivals and over the summer. LWF Distilling White Rum is available at selected outlets such as Butlers, Black Sands Pizzaria and Liquorland. It will sit complimentarily alongside other Taranaki/Oakura bespoke and boutique products and help put Oakura on the map as a foodie destination - every business success to you Janet!

Follow LWF Distilling journey on facebook and instagram. You can contact Janet on: 0204388992 for further details on customised tours/tastings/corporate events.

by Kim Ferens