A liquor store that makes its own cheap spirits and sells them in one of Christchurch’s poorest neighborhoods is unlikely to have its license renewed as it worsens social problems in the area, critics say.
The Yankee Bourbon Company bottle shop on Ferry Rd in Linwood sells a range of self-made spirits, including gin, brandy and rum.
A liter of 37% spirits costs $31.99, while a liter of 13.9% vodka costs $9.99. In a nearby Liquorland, the cheapest whiskey was $36.99 and the cheapest one-liter bottle of vodka was $12.99.
Paul McMahon, senior worker with the Community Action on Youth and Drugs project, objected to the bottle shop’s request to renew his liquor license.
* How a decade of drinking changed the future of alcohol
* Drinkers at home outnumber pub goers at ED
* Rye time
“It’s a very unusual liquor store,” he said.
“There is nothing like it.”
He said the sale of cheap liquor in Phillipstown was detrimental to the community.
“We know that the presence of cheap alcohol in an underprivileged community compounds other problems.”
The Deprivation Index uses census data to measure deprivation in different parts of New Zealand on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least deprived. Yankee Bourbon is in an area with a deprivation index of 8. The area in front of the store is 10.
Liz Gordon, of the Communities Against Alcohol Harm (CAAH) campaign group, said she would support locals who oppose the license renewal.
“We think of Yankee Bourbon as a liquor mill: offering inexpensive, locally made, flavored hard liquors in bottles rather than properly crafted,” she said.
“People tried in vain to shut it down three years ago, but they failed. We believe the tide has now turned against these low-cost operators.
When the bottle shop last had its license renewed in 2018, the application was met with opposition from the police, the medical officer and the Christchurch City Council District Licensing Inspector.
The renewal was approved with conditions stating that the store could not sell bulk alcohol or operate “fill your own” alcohol on the premises. It was also prohibited to sell individual bottles of consumer beers or individual bottles of mixers of ready-to-drink spirits (RTDs).
The supervisor of the police alcohol prevention unit, Sergeant Dave Robertson, said he would not object to renewing the license this year.
“Their terms were significantly reduced in the last renewal and they continued to operate under those terms,” he said.
“We are convinced that there are no problems with the operation of the premises.”
Yankee Bourbon’s Andrew King declined to comment. At the 2018 hearing, King said he moved Yankee Bourbon to another site with his father in 1997. He described the store as a “business brewing craft spirits to produce locally made products.”
According to the Christchurch District Licensing Committee’s written decision, King said at the hearing that his business “was an established part of the community and did not believe it adversely impacted its amenities and good order.” .
He also told the hearing that Yankee Bourbon was not the cheapest liquor store in Christchurch.
“He acknowledged that their bulk spirits prices were among the lowest, but other stocks had similar prices to other stores or, in a number of cases, even more expensive.”
McMahon said the inexpensive spirits sold at Yankee Bourbon are made from ethanol distilled from fermented whey, which is a byproduct of cheese making.
The ethanol was then diluted and flavored to become different types of alcohol, he said.
The use of ethanol distilled from whey is common in New Zealand spirits and seen as an innovative way to recycle a by-product of the cheese industry.