After years spent home brewing, starting a small batch distillery was always a dream for high-performance motor mechanic and award winning distiller Vaughan Campbell. But a leukaemia diagnosis was the kick he needed to follow his dream, to leave a legacy his kids could be proud of.
Then covid hit. Ethanol was diverted to making hand sanitisers. Knowing he was a distiller, Vaughan’s boss asked him if he could make ethanol for fuel. Research showed it wasn’t economically viable at the volumes the workshop needed. Days later, watching a news story about the environmental impact of food waste, the lightbulb went on – he could use his distilling skills to rescue food in his local community by upcycling it into premium spirits.
Scrolling late the following night, Vaughan discovered the inaugural Innovate Whanganui competition. Waking his sleeping wife, he laid out his big idea. While his slightly annoyed wife went immediately back to sleep, Vaughan started writing his entry for a premium craft vodka with an emphasis on minimising food and packaging waste. A 10-week accelerator course later, he pitched his idea to a ‘Dragon’s Den’ of 5 judges, winning the $10,000 grant to get started.
"I can't thank Whanganui and Partners, The Factory, and my mentors enough. They've turned my tiny little idea into a full-fledged business model."
With the help of medication to get his cancer under control, Vaughan set out to get the distillery up and running as soon as possible. Modifying a 1978 boiler he rescued from a local sweet factory into a still, Vaughan connected with local bakeries to upcycle their unsold treats. The result is Good Bones – small batch premium spirits made solely from ingredients sourced in New Zealand, with every batch rescuing at least 10kg of surplus baked goods destined for landfill.