Alex Kirichuck with his creations, including Te Ra solar-powered gin. Photo / Babiche Martens

Meet The Ukrainian Nuclear Engineer Making Solar-Powered Gin In Puhoi

The new gin has been made entirely from solar power and looks like liquid sunshine in a bottle

Gin that's good for drinking and for the environment? Puhoi distiller Alex Kirichuk's says his new gin is the best in the country. And the ex-Ukrainian nuclear engineer of the small distillery in Puhoi, a historic village settlement north of Auckland, makes a convincing case. 

The new apple and saffron-infused gin has been made entirely from solar power and looks like liquid sunshine in a bottle. Called Te Rā, they've made a limited run of 400 bottles. "Our gin combines with sun-grown orchard apples and Blenheim saffron," says Alex. "For me, it tastes like the best reflection of the sun".

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Since moving from Ukraine in 2002, along with wife Iryna and their daughter Victoria, Alex has been looking for ways to power his distillery more sustainably. The family bought the property in Puhoi after discovering its 221m deep bore, which provides "the best water in Auckland," says Alex.

The distillery produces boutique spirits, from mānuka honey whisky, to sauvignon blanc vodka and feijoa schnapps.

Iryna is a doctor and makes herbal tonics for health and wellbeing — they also contain alcohol but it's said to deliver botanical-based medicine to the body. She began distilling her tonics after Alex had to visit Chernobyl three times. He never fell ill thanks to her special formulations.

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 The distillery and family home, just a few paces apart from each other, have been run by solar power since July 2018. Alex uses a 'smart' solar energy service called Solarzero, which generates more power than they can use and stores the excess even when the sun isn’t shining.

The Kirichuks property is spray-free, and they use no chemicals or additives. Food scraps are home composted and their home runs on an internal septic system. Their carbon-neutral efforts also see barely a scrap of plastic around the distillery, packaging or transportation. Spirits are bottled on site and they claim the bottles back.

• Pre register your interest to purchase a bottle of Te Rā Gin at Solarcity.co.nz/teragin

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New Zealand Herald

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