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OUR JOURNEY

Two outsiders tackle the spirits world

Welcome swallow white

How do you build New Zealand’s most awarded distillery in just 2 years time? We never knew the rules so we didn’t know we were breaking them. Entirely self-taught in the art of distillation, Ben & Sarah Bonoma do not come from beverage backgrounds.

Ben, an American, and Sarah, a Brit, moved to New Zealand after falling in love over a long distance relationship. Many kilometers later, they found themselves in simply the most stunning place on the planet: Golden Bay, New Zealand.

After trading in America and the UK for New Zealand, it was time to trade in corporate careers and keyboards for a still and a plan: bring the most stunning place on the planet to the world by creating an attention grabbing range of spirits and break all of the rules in the process.

GOLDEN BAY, NEW ZEALAND

How we fell in love with one of the most beautiful places on the planet

Welcome swallow white

After landing in Wellington in 2012, Sarah and Ben set off to explore their new New Zealand landscapes and ended up camping in Golden Bay over the Christmas period. It was here where they fell in love with what is simply one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

When they found a still for sale in Golden Bay, Sarah and Ben jumped at the opportunity to quit their corporate jobs and start their new business venture in a location that deeply resonated them. They promised to never to take the region’s beauty for granted and make products of quality that mirrored the quality of Golden Bay’s surroundings.

MEET THE TEAM

The Dancing Sands team that makes the magic happen

Welcome swallow white
Erin Parry Marketing Manager

Erin Parry

Marketing Manager

Erin has led marketing and communications for brands across the food, beverage and beauty industries in New Zealand and her native Canada.  She joined the Dancing Sands team in early 2021 and now manages our marketing activity, raising the profile of the Dancing Sands brand both here in New Zealand and across our export markets. Erin is a keen mountain biker, and has never met a cat she didn’t like.

Niki Brown Assistant Distiller

Niki Brown

Assistant Distiller

After years traveling the world and working in famous cocktail joints from Australia to Scotland, Niki returned home to Golden Bay and joined our Distilling team in 2020. She is endlessly creative, her understanding of how to blend flavours has taught all of us a lot about how versatile Gin can be.  When she’s not distilling our Gin you’ll find Niki creating cocktails and playing with flavour combinations.  At home Niki has two young children, horses and a beautiful garden which keep her very busy!

Jamie Emerson Assistant Distiller

Jamie Emerson

Assistant Distiller

With a varied career in logistics and marketing Jamie joined our Distilling team in 2020.  Alongside distilling our Gin Jamie helps Dave manage production planning and day to day priorities – making sure we have enough Gin to fill all our orders!  Jamie is an avid cook and enjoys cooking delicious food at home for his partner.  You’ll also find him out walking his two beloved dogs around the Bay.

Dave Pedersen Distillery Manager

Dave Pedersen

Distillery Manager

After a diverse career that included training as a patisserie chef and working in procurement, Dave joined the Dancing Sands team in 2017. As our Distillery Manager Dave is the glue that holds our Distillery together.  He does literally everything from distilling Gin, production planning, and managing our Distillery team.  Outside of work you’ll find him on the beach with his dogs or spending time with his three adult children.

Ben Bonoma staff photo in front of the still and wooden barrels

Ben Bonoma

Founder / Head of Innovation

Ben is the creative force behind Dancing Sands, taking ideas and turning them into award-winning Gin. Ben creates all our Gin recipes – entirely from scratch. When Ben and Sarah bought a copper still off Trade Me Ben had no experience crafting anything, let alone spirits. Ben was once a tech consultant for big consulting firms but was also itching to get away from the 9-5 grind. Once Ben met Sarah he knew he’d found his ultimate team mate, and what they could accomplish together would be so much more than they could do alone. Ben doesn’t wind down so much as wind up: he’s an early 5am riser and likes to start his day with a mountain bike ride or trip to the gym.

Sarah Bonoma Managing Director

Sarah Bonoma

Founder / Managing Director

As Managing Director Sarah is responsible for basically everything. Sarah covers everything from business planning, overseeing operations, excise tax to creating our Instagram stories. At one time Sarah was studying to be a PhD scientist, but instead climbed the rungs of the corporate ladder where her path crossed with Ben. While Ben is the ideas guy, Sarah is the one who takes the ideas and turns them into a business.  At home Sarah is mum to her two young girls and a keen competitive runner.

OUR ADVANTAGE

The clearest spring water in the world: Dancing Sands Spring.

Welcome swallow white

We take our name from the Dancing Sands Spring, one of the fresh water springs within Golden Bay’s Te Waikoropupū Springs — some the most clear, fresh water springs in the world. Each bottle of our Gin is blended with the water from the aquifer that feeds Dancing Sands Spring, allowing us to make the best possible Gin and perfect its taste.

The spring pumps water at an amazing 14,000 litres per second at a crisp 11ºC. The purity of the spring serves as inspiration for everything we do.

These symbolic springs are what guides the purpose of Dancing Sands. To see beauty in the unusual, to not be constrained by tradition, that by taking away the rules you allow for natural creativity“.

QUALITY

When your quality standard is unrivaled, you make unrivaled products.

Welcome swallow white

Quality is at the centre of everything we do.

Dancing Sands has an obligation to make beautiful products that mirror our surroundings.  We relentlessly focus on quality through the entire product lifecycle – starting from the water that feeds the clearest spring in the world, to the ingredients that we hand select.

BRICK & MORTAR DISTILLERY

Our team distills, bottles, and labels every single bottle of Dancing Sands’ gin.

Welcome swallow white

Have you met our still, JC? She turns water into wine (gin) and is our workhorse. JC was born in 1981 in Germany, fathered by Jacob Carl the iconic still maker. German stills are steeped in centuries of tradition and excellence and we use a vapour distillation method to deliver quality, balance, and complexity.

We work in 150 litre batches, which gives us maximum control over quality. Using taste, temperature, and touch with every drop we make, no part of our craft is automated.

DISTILLATION 101

fermentation

FERMENTATION

All spirits start their journey as a lower alcohol by volume (ABV) liquid. Ours is made by milling grain, adding yeast which consumes naturally occurring sugars that creates alcohol and CO2 as by products.

evaporation and distillation

EVAPORATION

Our copper still is filled with alcohol and slowly heated. The key to distillation is that alcohol boils at 78.4oC, whereas water needs to reach 100oC. The alcohol evaporates and moves up the still separating itself from the water.

condensation

CONDENSATION

The alcohol vapour reaches the condenser and turns back into a liquid – a more concentrated alcohol with a new flavour profile imparted from the botanicals.

infusion and barreling

INFUSION & BARREL AGEING

Post distillation, an additional infusion can be added (e.g. strawberries and rhubarb are infused to create our Sun-Kissed Gin) or the gin can be rested in wooden barrels (e.g. our Barrel Aged Gin).

Bottling gin

BOTTLING

Spirits are blended with water to achieve its final alcohol strength, ours range from 37.5% to 58% ABV. It is then bottled, labelled, and sealed by hand before being shipped out of the distillery.

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