Meet the former Chernobyl engineer now making 'the world’s best vodka' in Pūhoi

The latest instalment of Seven Sharp's ‘Don’t leave home Til You’ve Seen the Country’ segment last night saw host Jeremy Wells travel to Pūhoi, or what he’s dubbed the bohemian capital of New Zealand.

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It didn’t hurt, Jeremy Wells admitted, that the trip also involved a visit with a distillery. Source: Seven Sharp

Fittingly, given the reputation of the town an hour north of Auckland's CBD, Pūhoi is now home to another European import: Ukrainian Alex Kirichuk, purveyor of what he says is the purest alcohol in the free world.

Mr Kirichuk and his family bought some land in the area that was basically a rubbish tip.

“We found 300 old tyres, two rusted minibuses, there was one bottle of Russian vodka. It was a sign from the top,” he explained.

Mr Kirichuk took that bottle of vodka as a sign to set up the Puhoi Organic Distillery, but they wouldn’t touch that bottle of vodka.

“It’s rubbish. Russian vodka is no good according to what we’re doing here. New Zealand vodka is the best in the world,” he said.

Mr Kirichuk and his family are using the pure 8000-year-old water they get through a 220m artesian bore on the site.

“It’s the best water in Auckland,” said a proud Mr Kirichuk, whose old job was as a nuclear engineer at Chernobyl.

For the record, Mr Kirichuk, who worked at Chernobyl during the world’s worst nuclear disaster, reckons the recent TV series was about 98 per cent accurate.

Mr Kirichuk, along with his wife and doctor, Lyrana, and daughter, Victoria, a former cop, make the range of liquors and tinctures, gins, vodkas and whiskeys that make the up the Puhoi Organic range, including a Covid-19 inspired hand sanitiser.

He wouldn’t comment on whether a manuka-infused whiskey, which he gifted to Jacinda Ardern, had helped her seal a coalition agreement with NZ First leader and renowned whiskey drinker Winston Peters.

“It’s true, she also start to make a baby,” Mr Kirichuk said.

Though he wasn’t shy in sharing his views about the Deputy Prime Minister.

“Don’t tell us about Winston Peters, we don’t like this person.”

The Pūhoi Organic Distillery collection ranges from bottles worth around $80 to $90, to one that goes for $50,000.