In the heart of Central Otago, our spiritual home is nearing completion. On June 4, arrived the final piece of the puzzle, our heartbeat: the John Dore Copper Pot Still. The journey of this Still to Scapegrace Distillery is a tale of legacy, persistence and good timing. 

The Early Years

The John Dore Still was crafted in London in 1952, a time when the gin industry in the United Kingdom was booming. As one of the premier producers of copper stills, John Dore became a sought-after name among distilleries looking to create high-quality spirits. The Still serviced numerous UK-based gin distilleries, becoming an integral part of the production process during a golden era for gin.

A pub in London in the 1950s.

The OE (Overseas experience)

In the 1980s, John Dore made a monumental journey to Auckland, New Zealand. The Still was brought over by Seagers Evans & Co under contract Lion, a major player in the spirits industry. The Lion distillery in Auckland, established in the late 1980s, became a world-class facility, supplying spirits to the New Zealand market until the late 1990s when production shifted largely to Australia.

A Close Call…

By the mid-2010s, the future of the John Dore Still was uncertain… It had been slated to be sold for scrap metal, destined for the copper yard. However, Scapegrace saw an opportunity to preserve a piece of distilling history. For two years, negotiations ensued with the still’s landlord, who finally agreed to sell it to Scapegrace on the condition that they remove it from the building themselves.

Saving the John Dore Still, Auckland 2018.

A New Home and Restoration

In 2018, Scapegrace finally acquired the John Dore Still. The team embarked on an hugely ambitious project to fully restore the Still to its original 1952 state. The restoration process was meticulous, respecting the craft and historical significance of the Still. 

This still holds a unique place in the distilling world. There are few like it being produced today, making John Dore a rare and valuable asset. Following its restoration, a grand welcome ceremony was held, marking the final commissioning of the distillery and celebrating the still’s new chapter.


Today the John Dore Still is the heartbeat of Scapegrace’s operations. It produces all of our distillery's white spirits, including our world-class gin and vodka. In 2018, Scapegrace was awarded the world’s best London dry gin at the most prestigious Wine & Spirits competition in the world, a fitting accolade for a Still with such a legacy.

The journey of the John Dore Still from London to Auckland, Christchurch and finally to Central Otago.

We are proud to not only preserve a piece of history but also to ensure that the tradition of high-quality distillation continues for generations to come.

The Significance

John Dore Stills are known for their craftsmanship and the unique character they impart to spirits. The copper Stills play a crucial role in the distillation process, influencing the flavour, purity, and overall quality of the final product. For Scapegrace, the John Dore is not just a piece of equipment; it’s a cornerstone of identity and commitment to excellence.

The legacy of John Dore continues to play a vital role in our quest to craft world-class spirits. The restored still is a testament to our unwavering commitment to quality and tradition.