Skip to main content

Thomson Whisky has been globally recognised as the Rising Star for 2024, a prestigious accolade given to a single distillery by The Whisky Exchange UK, the world’s largest online whisky retailer.

It is the first time a New Zealand brand has received the prestigious title – and the first time a whisky distillery has been selected.

Thomson Whisky, an independent distillery based in Riverhead, Auckland, is owned by Mathew Thomson and Rachael Thomson, and the prestigious international award comes amid an exciting resurgence of whisky production in New Zealand.

The pair founded Thomson Whisky as an independent bottler in 2009. Born out of creativity and passion for whisky, they began by selecting casks from the closed Willowbank distillery in Dunedin, showcasing malts that typified New Zealand whisky’s style and character. Amid increasing acclaim for their blending and bottling, they launched their distillery in 2014.

For years before Thomson Whisky was born, Mathew had been experimenting with smoking barley and home distilling, exploring the effects of manuka wood smoke. This passion for flavour has remained at the centre of Thomson Whisky’s distillation process and has played a crucial role in defining what New Zealand whisky is, and where it could go.

Maturing in ex-bourbon barrels and New Zealand wine casks and using native manuka wood and South Island peat to create smoky spirits, the distillery produces “bold, dynamic whisky with a trailblazing spirit”.

The Whisky Exchange first created the Rising Star award in 2022 to highlight a brand or product considered a must-watch and which should be on the radar of spirit lovers in the upcoming year, as chosen by a panel of industry experts alongside The Whisky Exchange team.

This award comes off the back of a recent global resurgence in whisky; the spirit increasing in volume and sales. While Scotch remains a favourite, consumers are ready to explore the unexpected frontiers of world whisky as the spotlight shifts towards a diverse range of whiskies from around the world.

Beyond the familiar territories of American, Japanese and Irish whiskies, surprising places such as New Zealand, France and the Nordic countries are gaining popularity, offering consumers exciting alternatives to expand their whisky horizons.

“We are extremely honoured to take home The Whisky Exchange Rising Star award for 2024,” says Matthew Thomson. “It is a testament to all of the hard work our team has put into the whisky production over the years.”

Dawn Davies, the head buyer at The Whisky Exchange, says that Mat and Rachael came on their radar a few years ago due to rave reviews of their whisky by a well-known spirits reviewer. “Their whiskies are a fantastic blend of great quality spirit and an innovative view of whisky making. Every now and then you come across a real gem of a producer, and they are definitely a diamond,” she says.

The Rising Star winner is given a dedicated landing page on for one year to showcase the producer and their products.

“Making artisan whisky means every batch is made with careful technique and maximum passion,” explains Mathew. “It’s been rewarding that our Manuka smoke recipe is opening doors for Thomson Whisky. We’re chuffed when our whisky is noticed in our own country, and it’s thrilling to be recognised internationally by The Whisky Exchange and to be in the elite company of the best spirit makers on the planet.

“It’s a dynamic time for the New Zealand spirits industry.  We’ve always hoped to help put contemporary New Zealand whisky on the world map, and this is a step in the right direction.” 


Dishing up export possibilities

Exporter Today Editorial TeamExporter Today Editorial TeamApril 16, 2012

What’s mine is not yours

Exporter Today Editorial TeamExporter Today Editorial TeamApril 16, 2012

25 countries… and counting

Exporter Today Editorial TeamExporter Today Editorial TeamApril 16, 2012