The Art of Distillation (Waiheke Island) 29 June 2024


Join us for a full-day workshop on the beautiful Waiheke Island, and immerse yourself in the art and science of distillation. This foundational workshop will teach you the three main techniques of aromatic distilling—hydro, steam and alcohol distillation—and show you how achievable it is to distil on a small-scale, sustainable basis.

Location: Surfdale Community Hall, 6 Hamilton Road, Waiheke Island


Designed for beginners, this workshop is a fantastic introduction to distillation and aromatics. It covers the basic processes for distilling hydrosol, essential oils, and spirits. During our interactive demonstrations, you will gain hands-on distilling experience and learn through touch, taste, and smell. We’ll show you how to turn your favourite plants and botanicals into aromatic products using traditional copper stills, and you’ll come away with the knowledge, practical skills, and confidence to start distilling yourself.

**All participants will also receive one free online Foundation Distillation Course of their choice (valued at $175). All our online courses come with lifetime access, so you can refer back to them whenever you need, making them a great learning resource. Feel free to explore your online course before or after your workshop with us.

Saturday 29 June, 10am–4pm

Our morning session covers using water as a solvent and features demonstrations of hydro and steam distillations in our copper caskhood and column alembic stills. Our afternoon is dedicated to spirit distillations and features an eau de vie distillation in the copper alquitar and a small stripping run of pre-prepared wash.


  • Using water as a solvent: Enjoy a drink on arrival as we begin the day with herbal infusions and a discussion covering the energetics of water and solubility.
  • This is an overview of the types of stills we will be using and the distillation process for extracting flavour and aroma.
  • Hydro distilling—How to distil a seasonal hydrosol. A practical, hands-on distillation of hydrosol in a copper caskhood still. Includes suitable plant types, selection and harvesting, how to pack your still, when to stop, yields, pH, filtering and safe storage.
  • What is hydrosol? A discussion of its properties and uses in food, drink and skincare.
  • Steam distilling—How to distil essential oil. A practical, hands-on steam distillation of a seasonal essential oil in a copper column alembic still. Includes plant selection and preparation, packing the column, yields, collection, separation, bottling and storage.
  • Distilling Alcohol—Learn how to prepare alcohol from wine to use as a base for herbal or fruit liqueurs or eau de vie. This is a practical, hands-on distillation of eau de vie using a 3L copper alquitar. This is an introduction to the process of making alcohol—useful for beginners, herbalists and perfumers.
  • Includes set up, safety, calculating yields and making cuts, and measuring alcohol levels for safe, clean distilling.
  • We end the day with a demonstration of a small stripping run from a prepared sugar wash, using a modern hybrid still.

Getting here: Ferry’s depart from downtown Auckland, and take approximately 45 minutes. If you are not staying on the island Friday night, we recommend the 8am ferry to arrive in plenty of time. You can bus to the venue—public buses depart from the ferry terminal at Matiatia. The Onetangi bus (50A or 50B) will go past the venue, ask your friendly driver where to get off if you are unsure.

Lunch: There is a French café and lunch bar in the nearby Surfdale shops (a 5 min walk) or bring your own picnic to enjoy in the garden or at the nearby beach.