National Liquor News May 2024

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Editor’s note

Welcome to the May issue of National Liquor News, your go-to source for the latest trends, insights, and innovations in Australia’s retail liquor industry.

More than 30 years since craft distilling first became legal in Australia, the whisky we make Down Under is considered world class. This month, we hosted a tasting of more than 50 Aussie whiskies for our Trade Buyer’s Guide series, providing invaluable insights and recommendations for industry professionals navigating this exciting category. Our esteemed panel of 22 judges from right across the industry were very impressed by the line-up of local drams, with some whiskies scoring as high as 96 points. You can read more about the category and see the results of the tasting beginning on page 26.

And as we gear up for the winter season, we’ve curated a selection of beers that are sure to pique the interest of consumers across the country. From hearty stouts to crisp lagers, our picks encompass a diverse range of styles and flavours, guaranteed to generate some interest in your stores.

In addition to our focus on whisky and beer, we’ve delved into the world of aperitifs – a category experiencing a renaissance of sorts in recent years. With the aperitivo drinking occasion gaining cultural relevance in Australia, Molly Nicholas explores the appeal of the category as the temperature drops.

We also share our regular insights from Retail Drinks Australia, Circana, Wine Australia, New Zealand Winegrowers, Strikeforce, Spirits & Cocktails Australia, and eLease Lawyers. Thank you to all of our contributors.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Cheers, Deb

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Publisher: Paul Wootton

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Top Reads ➤ 26 Trade Buyer’s Guide: Aussie Whisky ➤ 48 The appetite for aperitifs ➤ 16 A retailer’s guide to winter beers The Intermedia Group takes its Corporate and Social Responsibilities (CSR) seriously and is committed to reducing its impact on the environment. We continuously strive to improve our environmental performance and to initiate additional CSR based projects and activities. As part of our company policy we ensure that the products and services used in the manufacture of this magazine are sourced from environmentally responsible suppliers. This magazine has been printed on paper produced from sustainably sourced wood and pulp fibre and is accredited under PEFC chain of custody. PEFC certified wood and paper products come from environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests. The Intermedia Group’s Environmental Responsibility National Liquor News proudly partners with Retail Drinks Australia. 4 | National Liquor News Editor’s note


Please enjoy responsibly. NEW

Special Features

Industry Focused

Regulars 8 Cover Story: William Grant & Sons revolutionises cask finish whisky 10 News: The latest liquor industry news for retailers around Australia 12 Marketplace: Brand news and promotions 48 Events: An exclusive look into the latest liquor industry events
20 Retail Drinks Australia: Responsible product ranging 21 Strikeforce: The benefits of digital ticketing 22 Wine Australia: Returning to a changed wine market in mainland China 23 New Zealand Winegrowers: Pour yourself a glass of New Zealand white wine 24 Spirits & Cocktails Australia: Aussie spirits’ untapped potential
16 Winter Beers: A seasonal guide for retailers 25 Trade Buyer’s Guide: Australian Whisky 40 Distillery Spotlight: Archie Rose Distilling Co 42 Aperitifs: The appetite for aperitifs 50 Circana: Perceived variations in value 6 | National Liquor News Contents May 2024

William Grant & Sons revolutionises cask finish whisky


The story of rum finish whiskies at William Grant & Sons comes in different shapes and sizes as many great stories do, but it began when Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart created The Balvenie Classic in 1983, a European oak Oloroso Sherry finish and the first cask finish whisky ever released.

Pioneered by Stewart, this technique has become a classic style globally and is a big reason he was awarded his MBE – it changed the world of whisky.

With this knowledge, Stewart waited for the right time to use another variation of this technique, and at the start of the 2000s had a conversation with the Glenfiddich global brand team that would change the course of cask finishing history forever.

Stewart took a 21-year-old Glenfiddich, finished it in Cuban rum barrels, and after three to six months pulled out some seriously exceptional liquid. The whole team knew he was onto something special, and Glenfiddich 21 Gran Reserva was born. The Gran Reserva has been one of the best-selling single malt Scotch whiskies in its class ever since 2001 and continues to be a staple to show off a beautifully elegant and grand single malt that creates conversation over a shared dram.

Ross Blainey, The Balvenie & Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador, says: “Five years after Gran Reserva, and in 2006, we released the first of four limited-edition rum finish whiskies, The Balvenie 14 Rum Wood finished in Guyana and Venezuelan rum barrels, and then came The Balvenie 17 Rum Cask finished in old Jamaican rum barrels.

“David told me he had a soft spot for Balvenie in rum barrels. The full flavour, the balanced yet bold molasses and toffee, and the delicate fruit and oak could really heighten what Balvenie already had in its DNA.”

These were followed closely in 2009 by The Balvenie 14 Cuban Selection and Golden Cask 14 and Caribbean Cask 14 in 2011 and 2014 respectively.

“When we were getting barrels from the Caribbean, we never had full control of the barrels, consistency was a problem

David now works with Brian Kinsman, Glenfiddich Malt Master, and Kelsey McKechnie, The Balvenie Malt Master, to create their own blend of rum to season exBourbon barrels ready for our whiskies to be finished in, bringing heightened complexity and flavour,” explains Blainey.

“If this wasn’t enough, Stewart, Kinsman and McKechnie create a different blend of rum for each of our whiskies finished in rum barrels. After the rum has seasoned four or five barrels it has been aged and changed character itself, so we blend it together with younger rum, like a solera system, to get the flavour just right.

“This is just the bones of the story, but the rest should be told over a dram. The dedication and passion from everyone at William Grant & Sons means we can make something that takes longer, is harder to do and even wanders away from whisky making for a while, just to get something that tastes this good.”

McKechnie summarises it perfectly: “There isn’t any aspect of making whisky and creating flavour that should be underestimated and we pride ourselves in doing things the difficult way when needed to make sure every bottle is perfect.”

The Glenfiddich 21 Gran Reserva is the pinnacle of this dedication to great whisky..


If you have questions, message Ross at @ross_blainey.

take deep dive into history of William Grant & Sons’ rum finish whiskies.
8 | National Liquor News Cover Story

The largest supplier to independently owned liquor retailers and on-premise venues in Australia

The partner of choice for on-premise venues. Leveraging our strengths in delivering exceptional value, through competitive pricing and extensive range.

Providing ALM customers with access to a supplier’s full portfolio through existing ordering processes.

A single channel of communication for all customers. From delivery details, new products, promotional programs and marketing campaigns.

For retailers around the country

ILG expands online trading platform Liquorstop Warehouse

After a successful launch in New South Wales, the B2B marketplace system will roll out to Queensland and Victoria.

Australia’s largest liquor co-operative, Independent Liquor Group (ILG), is celebrating the continued growth of its B2B marketplace platform, Liquorstop Warehouse, with an expansion into Queensland and Victoria in June.

Offering the convenience of online trading with wholesale benefits, the one-stop online ordering platform was designed to service ILG’s non-member purchases. Following a successful launch in New South Wales, the platform is now set to roll out to two more Eastern states.

Liquorstop Warehouse aims to help retailers and suppliers connect and conduct business through its simplified online ordering system and is open to all companies holding a liquor license, providing hotels, bars, restaurants and other liquor industry operators with better buying opportunities and freightfree options.

Responding to market demand for simpler, no-stringsattached purchases, the B2B platform allows ILG to extend its competitive pricing and industry-renowned service to all liquor licensed businesses.

The hybrid shopping experience includes more than 6,000 products across all categories and combines online convenience with a dedicated customer service team and a 24 to 48 hour turnaround time on account verification.

The user-friendly online portal offers easy browsing and category navigation, along with a seamless sign-up process and the ability to access order history such as downloadable tax invoices and fortnightly specials.

Sign up here

News The latest liquor industry
10 | National Liquor News

Casella opens solar farm to power Yenda facility

Casella Family Brands has made a major step towards its goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, unveiling one of Australia’s largest solar power facilities to power its production facility in Yenda, NSW.

The Yenda facility processes and bottles the majority of Casella Family Brands’ wines, and the on-site brewery produces key Australian Beer Co. brands such as Son of a Nun and Pressman’s Cider. The electricity usage was determined to be the largest source of direct greenhouse gas emissions, and the solar farm will provide around 30 per cent of the total power required.

The solar farm, situated on an 11-hectare plot three kilometres from the Yenda facility, is state of the art, with a two-panel tracking system and a smart algorithm that determines the best direction for the panels to get the most power. It comprises 8,730 solar panels, which are capable of producing 11.53 GWh of electricity per year.

Casella has also invested in a second solar system which will provide about 30 per cent of the power for the wastewater treatment plant at the Yenda brewery, with a potential generating capacity of 890.47 MWh per year.

Some of Casella’s other sustainability initiatives include the Yenda brewery wastewater treatment facility, lightweighting of glass bottles, reducing plastic waste, and repurposing wine byproducts. Casella is also reestablishing native plant populations, which reduces water needs for grapevines as well as promoting a healthy ecosystem.

These initiatives are informed by Casella’s three sustainability pillars of Connected Communities, Protecting the Planet, and achieving Better Things Together.

Thirsty Camel kicks off inaugural Roadshow Series

Thirsty Camel Victoria has hosted its inaugural Roadshows, a series of events to showcase strategies for elevating instore excellence.

Visiting Wodonga, Melbourne, Beaconsfield and Geelong, the first of the events was hosted at AHA venue, Blazing Stump in Wodonga, and brought together an extensive network of Thirsty Camel members from northern Victoria and their staff, for an engaging evening of business sessions and tastings.

The event’s primary focus was on refining in-store execution, with discussions encompassing crucial topics such as Thirsty Camel’s leading Hump Club loyalty program, which has seen an impressive 400 per cent growth in members over the past year. The sessions also covered excellence in store standards, and innovative retail strategies.

The Roadshow provided a unique opportunity for suppliers and retailers to foster partnerships, explore new products, and stay at the forefront of industry trends.

Drinks suppliers were able to connect directly with Thirsty Camel members and showcase the latest offerings slated to join the range in April. Key attending suppliers included Carlton & United Breweries, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, and Treasury Wine Estates.

Rachel Brown, Vic Marketing Manager, Thirsty Camel, says the Roadshow Series is just one way that the banner group is adding value to its members.

“Thirsty Camel Victoria remains dedicated to creating valuable opportunities for its members, fostering a collaborative environment that promotes growth and innovation within the liquor retail sector.”

May 2024 | 11
John Casella (centre) with the Hon. Sussan Ley MP, Federal Member for Farrer and Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Anne Napoli Deputy Mayor Councillor Griffith County Council


Brand news and promotions

Lo-fi wine project Mon Tout unveils 2023 vintages

Western Australian wine project Mon Tout Wines, which is the venture of second-generation vintner Richard Burch, has added three 2023 vintage releases to its collection of minimal intervention wines.

The three new vintages include Heydays, a textural and raw WA Chardonnay, Strange Love, an eclectic blend of Rosé, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, and Kind Animals, a gentle combination of three light dry reds.

Speaking about the 2023 vintages, all of which are available now at a retail price of $33, Burch said: “Our Mon Tout collection is a free spirit. Every year, the season brings something different, and we don’t try to control it. Our philosophy is to let the fruit lead and see where the blending process takes us.

“Our Strange Love Rosé 2023 gained a third element in the form of Great Southern Pinot Noir whilst retaining the summer-time vibe and crisp, dry finish that we love it for,” he continued.

“Kind Animals 2023 is as soft and supple as ever, Grenache-led as always, bringing a dusting of strawberry, the Syrah provides the dark fruit flavour, and Pinot Noir provides the vibrancy. It’s the ultimate chilled red.

“Heydays Chardonnay has done a U-turn from 100 per cent Margaret River Chardy to 100 per cent Great Southern, taking on a whole new slant from the previous expression. Having the freedom to change up the wines with each vintage while maintaining the Mon Tout style is what the collection is all about.”

Distributor: Young & Rashleigh in NSW, Footprint Wines in VIC and Off The Vine in WA

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum extends range with exotic new flavour profile

From the number one premium rum comes The Kraken Black Cherry & Madagascan Vanilla, the latest dark flavour extension to be released.

Like The Kraken Roast Coffee flavour, Black Cherry represents a big category opportunity for Kraken as it continues to swim against the tide of the ordinary and tap into the ever-evolving tastes of consumers.

The Kraken Black Cherry & Madagascan Vanilla is a dark, fruity and flavourful fusion of the signature black spiced Caribbean rum with rich cherries and an undercurrent of Madagascan vanilla, dark amber in colour with glints of purple and copper, and a complex, long finish.

With exotic spices and flavours at the forefront of its spiced rum, The Kraken has unchallengeable credentials in this space giving consumers a more premium, more versatile and more flavourful drinking experience.

Best enjoyed on ice over cola and with a wedge of lime.

Distributor: Proximo Spirits

12 | National Liquor News

Reformulated Tanica launches with Australian flair

Australian aperitif brand Tanica has launched with a refreshed identity and updated formulation, re-entering the market with the intention to reinvigorate the world of premium aperitifs with an Australian flair.

After months of redevelopment, the new product has been distilled from fresh botanicals and blended with handharvested native plum, honouring locally sourced ingredients and a fresher, slightly sweeter flavour.

CEO and Founder Adriane McDermott says: “Since the start of Tanica, we’ve wanted to shine a light on native and natural ingredients of Australia and create unique combinations of flavours. That’s something that has never changed. But we also spent the last couple of years learning what our customer really wants when they drink.”

At 17 per cent ABV, the reinvigorated formulation is ideal for daytime occasions, best enjoyed with bubbly mixers, as a Spritz or even in a Negroni.

“Tanica is in its own league, boasting the natural acidity of Davidson’s plum, the freshness of orange peel and mint, and the herbaceous aroma of strawberry gum leaf, offering a true sense of place in this locally crafted aperitif,” added McDermott.

“It’s a fresh take on a beloved category, perfect for our Australian lifestyle and for spritzing.”

Distributor: Paramount Liquor and NOC Wholesale

First-time collaboration between Stone & Wood and Mountain Culture

For the first time ever, Stone & Wood has released a collaborative beer, joining forces with Blue Mountains brewery Mountain Culture for the release of Backpack Ale, a five per cent ABV hazy pale.

Designed to fuse the best of both breweries, Backpack Ale uses Stone & Wood’s signature Galaxy hops and retains all the hallmarks of Mountain Culture with a pillowy mouthfeel and hazy appearance.

“Stone & Wood are the trailblazers of Aussie craft beer and a real inspiration for us,” says DJ McCready, Founder of Mountain Culture.

“We really wanted this beer to be something that represents the best of both breweries, full of flavour but highly sessionable. The exact kind of beer you’d want to stick in your backpack on an adventure into the mountains or to the coast.”

Distributor: Contact

Antica Formula targets premium consumption occasions

Aperitif spirits are gaining popularity among consumers, and Antica Formula offers the perfect trade up for consumers who are seeking premium options in the growing category. Due to its historical significance and versatility, vermouth is a muchloved aperitif spirit and presents an opportunity for category premiumisation. As Australian consumers become better educated and seek high quality aperitif spirits, Antica is unique in its heritage, produced today in the same way it was first created in 1786.

Ideal for at-home cocktail consumption, Antica is a versatile spirit and can be used to elevate any traditional vermouth cocktail such as the Negroni, Boulevardier or Manhattan. Antica is also designed to be served neat over ice, or with a splash of soda for lower ABV drinking occasions.

Distributor: Amber Beverage Australia

May 2024 | 13 Marketplace

Cools: The innovative hard juice disrupting the RTD category

Responding to a large gap in the Australian beverage market, new RTD Cools has been dubbed Australia’s first and only hard juice brand.

Born out of the boredom of alcoholic drinks that are big on fizz but lacking in flavour, Cools is a non-carbonated alcoholic juice designed to reinvigorate the RTD category with fuller flavours.

Available in Vodka Pineapple and Vodka Cranberry, Cools contains no artificial flavours or added sugar, blending vodka and real fruit juice.

Dylan Hopkins, Founder of Cools, says: “We set out to create a drink that is genuinely delicious and refreshing –something that’s all flavour, no fizz - and Cools delivers in every possible way.

“There’s truly nothing on the Australian market like Cools, and we’re stoked to be the ones to introduce convenient, canned, non-carbonated hard juice for the first time. Gone are the days of sipping on drinks that taste like TV static with a hint of flavour. Cools is here to tickle your tastebuds with something they’ll actually enjoy.”

Distributor: Direct

New Watermelon & Basil flavour for Sopra Seltzer

Seltzer brand Sopra has added a Watermelon & Basil flavour to its range of flavoured seltzers, designed as an antidote to the artificial tasting drinks saturating the RTD market.

Co-founded by wine and liquor professional Salvatore Valvo and Rocco’s Bologna Discoteca and Poodle CoFounder, Emilio Scalzo, the range draws on the duos combined food and wine experiences, resulting in an allnatural range of seltzers.

“Watermelon & Basil was inspired by enjoying a watermelon granita by the Amalfi Coast. The freshness of watermelon granita, with a basil garnish to balance the sweetness,” shared Valvo.

The brand pays homage to the Italian heritage of Scalzo and Valvo, and the seasonally-led collection of seltzers use a clean combination of vodka, water and real fruit juice.

Scalzo said: “We wanted to avoid a seltzer that tasted fake and artificial, and we genuinely wanted to create the best tasting seltzer on the market.

“This can only be achieved by using real fruit and by not adding a bunch of preservatives and artificial flavours and sweetners. We wanted to focus on real, premium ingredients and real flavour – with an Italian twist.”

Distributor: See website for distributors

14 | National Liquor News Marketplace

Wynns Coonawarra Estate unveils

2024 Wynnsday Collection

On Wednesday 5 June, Wynns Coonawarra Estate will launch its muchanticipated luxury Wynnsday Collection, reflecting the best of the Estate’s prized vineyards in the Terra Rossa Soils in Coonawarra.

The 2024 Wynnsday Collection features six elegant, medium-bodied Coonawarra red wines from the 2021 and 2022 vintages, including Wynns Michael Shiraz, Wynns Messenger Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, Wynns Black Label ‘Old Vines’ Shiraz, Wynns V&A Lane Shiraz and Wynns V&A Lane Cabernet Shiraz.

Sue Hodder, Wynns Senior Winemaker, said: “This year’s Wynnsday wines exemplify the Wynns Coonawarra Estate medium bodied age-worthy style. In Coonawarra, the 2022 vintage was a high-quality year without any obvious climate change impacts, so this presented a fabulous opportunity for Sarah, Chris and I to truly bring our creative winemaking style and flair to the fore.

“The 2024 Wynnsday Wine Collection is truly one of the best ranges of wines that we have released in my time at Wynns. In over three decades at Wynns, I have seen some very fine wines produced, but this year’s release wines are well and truly amongst that group,” Hodder concluded.

Distributor: Treasury Wine Estates

May 2024 | 15 Marketplace

A retailer’s guide to winter beer ranging

We’ve done the hard yards and spoken to suppliers about what beers retailers should consider ranging during the cooler months.

Hahn Ultra Low Carb

According to new research conducted by Hahn, two thirds (66 per cent) of Aussies claim they’ve become more mindful when it comes to their lifestyle choices in the last decade –with Gen-Z leading the pack on the feel-good charge (78 per cent).

To meet this growing trend, Hahn has introduced Hahn Ultra Low Carb beer. Ideal for those who are watching their winter weight gain, Hahn Ultra Low Carb has an impressive less than one gram of carbs per bottle without compromising on great taste.

A true category game changer, Hahn Ultra Low Carb serves a delicious balance of flavours at only 87 calories per bottle serve. Without giving up the malty beer taste, the beer profile result is a perfect balance of flavour and easy drinking crispness, with ultra-low carbs and low bitterness. It’s designed for those who want the classic taste of beer but want to reduce their carbohydrate and calorie intake.

Hahn Ultra Low Carb will be available to purchase in 330ml bottles in leading liquor stores across Australia. The RRP starts from $55 per case and $19 per pack.

Distributor: Lion Australia

Guiness 0.0

Guinness has announced the national rollout of Guinness 0.0, a new non-alcoholic version of the famous Irish stout, in Australia.

Guinness 0.0 boasts the same beautifully smooth taste, perfectly balanced flavour, and unique dark, ruby red colour of Guinness, now without the alcohol. Guinness 0.0 is also a low-calorie option for those choosing to moderate, with just 16 calories per 100ml, or 70 calories per can.

The Australian release of Guinness 0.0 comes as stats indicate the continuing trend of drinkers seeking no or low alcohol alternatives. According to data from Lion Australia, the growth of alcohol-free beer remains strong, with NoLo to alcohol-free beer’s share of the total beer market increasing year-on-year for the last four years.

Guinness 0.0 is now available in 440ml cans to purchase in liquor stores nationally. RRP $15.99 for a four-pack.

Distributor: Lion Australia

“While retailers should be conscious of stocking well-loved winter beers like Guinness or Tooheys New, they should also be looking at their NoLo options for those looking for more mindful choices during winter.”


16 | National Liquor News Winter Beers

ranging for 2024 should be a focus at looking at smaller suppliers and beverage manufactures that also support other smaller businesses to help the industry grow. A nice dark beer conditioned on coffee also helps.”

Felons Sun Drenched Fence Barrel Aged Beer

Felons Brewing Co’s Sun Drenched Fence eight per cent Barrel Aged Beer displays malt on the nose, red and ripe in the hand. This sour red ale has been aged in a mixture of Chardonnay and Whiskey barrels for 32 months.

On the palate you will savour a mesmerising interplay of rich malt, sour cherries, and refreshing acidity. Nostalgic, patient and balanced, a metaphoric marvel.

Distributor: Direct from Felons Brewing Co. Contact Gareth Edie on or 0499 882 120

Spaceships Oatmeal Breakfast

Milk Stout w/Coffee

The latest Stout from Good Land Brewing Co has been brewed with luscious oats, rich chocolate and roasted malts all sourced from Voyager Craft Malts. These malts are single origin and grown at small independent farms in the Riverina area, which focuses on regenerative farming practices.

Brewers have added milk sugar for creaminess and body and then conditioned on a blend of coffee, which was freshly roasted by their pals at Fat Cat Coffee Roasters only a short drive from the brewery.

All artwork on the can has been hand painted on canvas with acrylic by Good Land Brewing Co’s in-house artist, Lucy.

At 5.1 per cent ABV it is full-bodied, roasty with a touch of espresso, perfect for those dark winter days.

Distributor: Direct from Good Land Brewing Co, contact

May 2024 | 17 Winter Beers

Felons x Spectator Jonze Hazy Pale Ale

Brewed in collaboration with Spectator Jonze, this hazy pale renders her radical art into a full-blown juice box of tropical fruit flavour, with hop-powered pops of berry and candy throughout. Defy the ordinary and embrace creativity with every sip.

Since Felons Brewing Co.’s opening in 2018, the team has passionately supported the street art community in Brisbane. The Brisbane Street Art Festival plays an important role in connecting significant local artists with the revitalisation of Brisbane’s most iconic locations via public art. This year’s official collaboration beer sees Felons collaborate with Spectator Jonze on a delicious beer of colourful and hazy proportions.

Distributor: Direct from Felons Brewing Co. Contact Gareth Edie on 0499 882 120 or

James Squire Stride

Australia’s first brewer, James Squire, has brought its brewing credentials to an increasingly thirsty audience looking for low carb beer alternatives.

James Squire Stride is a flavourful low carb pale ale, with only 3.6 grams of carb per bottle.

Made from 100 per cent grain ingredients, James Squire Stride is a clean refreshing low carb Pale Ale. Created using only Australian Pale and Munich Malts with a dash of Wheat, tangerine and tropical stone fruit notes form the aroma and top notes while Mosaic and Galaxy hops deliver hints of passionfruit and citrus.

James Squire Stride has an ABV of 4.2 per cent and will be available to purchase in 330ml bottles in leading liquor stores across Australia and within James Squire brewhouses, RRP starts from $54.99 per case and $20.99 per six-pack.

Distributor: Lion Australia

Coopers Best Extra Stout

As the temperature drops, sales of stout rise for Coopers Brewery.

Australia’s largest independent family-owned brewery has been producing one of the nation’s best loved and awarded stouts since 1879.

“We generally see a strong uplift in sales of stout and our other dark ales in the colder months as consumers seek out their comforting and hearty taste profile,” Coopers Brewery General Manager Michael Shearer said.

“As well as this seasonal spike, we have noticed a strong overall rebound in interest in stouts and dark beers in recent years.”

Coopers Best Extra Stout is the stand-out and is enjoying a resurgence among Australian consumers with sales of this popular brew now back on a par with the peaks of the early 1970s.

It is the number one high ABV beer in Australia, a category that has also been enjoying a popularity boost recently.

With an ABV of 6.3 per cent, Coopers Best Extra Stout is brewed with specially roasted black malt, which delivers a robust blend of fruit and chocolate flavours and bitter hop notes.

Australians choose to drink Stout on its own or mix it with lemonade or other Coopers beer – making it a versatile and popular brew to suit many tastes.

Distributor: Coopers Brewery

18 | National Liquor News Winter Beers

White Bay Brewery XPL

Born out of the newly rebranded White Bay Brewery on the Balmain Peninsula, the XPL (Extra Pale Lager) is the Official Beer of the Sydney Swans.

Not to be confused with an XPA, it’s an easydrinking, crisp and clean lager – a hybrid between your true-blue classic Aussie beer and modern ales. Think sessionable but not flavourless, and hoppy but not obnoxious. It bridges that gap between the old-school and the new-world, meeting people where they’re at rather than challenging them to be somewhere else.

Proudly brewed on Sydney Harbour, at home anywhere.

Currently available on tap at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Allianz Stadium and dozens of pubs around Metro Sydney. Reach out to Jackson Davey for any enquiries.

Distributor: Direct from White Bay Brewery, contact or call 0468 376 007

“At this time in the trade’s history, the questions should be less about ‘style’ and more about ‘occasion’. Footy season is up and running and the beer that might suit the weather may not be fit for purpose for sitting on the couch with mates having a few more than one or two. Finding beers that are new, exciting that fit the occasion of watching footy with mates – that’s what’s trendy this winter.”

Dark Lager 5.6%

Stars can’t shine without darkness they say, but this dark lager shines before the sun has even set. In times of despair, we often reach for something special. This beer will give you what you’re looking for.

A fine, well-balanced dark lager with medium malt intensity and low hop bitterness. The dryish chocolate notes from the dark roasted malts will give you that ray of light even in those darkest nights.

Distributor: Direct from Madocke Beer Brewing Co.

Felons x Madre Margarita Sour 4.5%

The mother of all marg sours – made with Mezcal – making it light yet smoky, ideal for winter.

Across the pacific, our friends at Madre Mezcal are distilling some of the smoothest Mezcal in the heart of the the Oaxacan Sierra (Mexico).

Together, Felons has brewed a Mezcal-charged margarita ale that delivers lip-smacking refreshment with every sip. Crack open a mirage of wonderment and immerse yourself in a flavour oasis.

Hazy in appearance and savoury on the tastebuds, feel the pull as you’re lured in for more.

Distributor: Direct from Felons Brewing Co. Contact Gareth Edie on or 0499 882 120

Jackson Davey, Senior Sales Manager, White Bay Brewery
May 2024 | 19 Winter Beers

Undesirable liquor products, and responsible product ranging

Michael Waters, CEO, Retail Drinks Australia provides an update on Retail Drinks’ Product Ranging Guidelines.

“Retail Drinks’ role as a trusted advisor to both industry and government, and the voice for liquor retail saw our views being proactively sought by the NSW Government in a recent review of undesirable products, specifically products with soft drink branding.”

Retail Drinks has a demonstrated commitment to the responsible promotion, sale, and supply of alcohol beverage products. To ensure the reputation of our sector, we promote and encourage standards of operation beyond the required standards of legal compliance, and have implemented a range of voluntary promotion, product, sale, and supply control, as well as safety and security initiatives adopted by members and the broader industry.

Our suite of Industry Responsibility initiatives includes our world-leading Online Alcohol Sale and Delivery Code of Conduct, Choose to DrinkWise, ID25, Don’t Buy It For Them, the Product Ranging Guidelines, and Retail Drinks’ latest initiative Safe to Serve, launched in late 2023.

Retail Drinks’ role as a trusted advisor to both industry and government, and the voice for liquor retail saw our views being proactively sought by the NSW Government in a recent review of undesirable products, specifically products with soft drink branding.

Our submission to Liquor and Gaming NSW questioned the need for additional regulation, referring to both the processes of the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code, and our Product Ranging Guidelines, developed to assist liquor store operators to make product ranging choices that

minimise potential misuse and subsequent harm related to excessive alcohol consumption.

Retail Drinks’ Product Ranging Guidelines, available via product-ranging-guidelines include a checklist of issues that liquor retailers may wish to consider when making product ranging decisions for their stores. It includes the perception of a product targeting underage drinkers, product appeal and positioning, promotion style, alcohol strength and packaging format, as well as the name, packaging, graphics, and colour of products.

If the NSW Government ultimately determines that additional regulation be developed, we will seek to ensure that the definition adopted is not overly broad as to inadvertently capture products such as flavoured mineral water and lemon, lime and bitters, which do not pose any significant risk. We’ve also argued that a product’s taste profile should be excluded from consideration.

At the time of writing, our submission is still being considered alongside those provided by other stakeholders. We will continue to engage in this review process as it progresses and, where relevant, promote the principles of our Product Ranging Guidelines, as well as those from our other industry responsibility initiatives. ■

20 | National Liquor News Retail Drinks Australia

From paper to pixels

In a previous role that I held, one of the key focuses, whether the task was building off-located beer displays or replenishing stock in the cool room, was always on clear and prominent pricing.

Buying a slab of beer is generally a planned purchase, with the average dwell and purchase time significantly lower than for wine or spirits, drinkers were swayed to brands with a core-flute pallet topper or A3 price poster strategically positioned above the stack clearly stating the price.

Beer drinkers appreciated the signalling, which often meant a quicker trip into and out of the store, which was important to core shoppers, often tradies on the way home.

Fast-forward to 2024 and beer drinkers are faced with a wall of noise and sometimes ineffective or, in worst case scenarios, no pricing tickets at all.

Retailers continue to use paper price tickets, which in today’s digital age are comparatively inefficient, can be error prone, have limited functionality, can degrade over time, and sometimes result in lost revenue when lost or misplaced tickets could see customers abandon a purchase if they can’t identify the correct price.

Sustainability is still a hot topic for many, and the continued use of paper tickets contributes to deforestation and wastage.

I recently stopped at a brand-new service station to fill up and was pleasantly surprised by the digital in-store environment featuring promotional screens

with the offer and savings clearly stated, with a digital screen on the front of the tobacco cabinet displaying the range and prices and digital ticketing on shelves. In the few minutes I was in the store I observed several incremental sales as a result.

The uptake of digital price boards and ticketing is gaining momentum in many retail channels and liquor will be no different.

Digital ticketing and price boards are the future and have benefits for both retailers and customers.

For retailers prices can be updated remotely across the store in seconds, saving labour and material costs.

Accuracy is improved by eliminating errors sometimes experienced with manual changes.

Real time price adjustments based on factors like competitor pricing can be made easily and efficiently with the obvious benefit of eliminating paper waste, which promotes a more environmentally friendly operation.

For customers, digital ticketing enhances the shopping experience, providing clear, easy to read aesthetics and often access to additional product information beyond price e.g. country of origin.

Digital ticketing also gives the shopper confidence that the displayed price is accurate and up to date, reduces price discrepancies at the check-out, leading to a smoother shopping experience.

In summary, there are many benefits that retailers will realise as our industry transitions over time from paper to pixels. ■

“For customers, digital ticketing enhances the shopping experience, providing clear, easy to read aesthetics and often access to additional product information beyond price.”

Above: The introduction of electronic shelf labels has made a positive impact at Drinks HQ.
Category & Insights Manager Strikeforce
May 2024 | 21 Strikeforce
Stephen Wilson, Category & Insights Manager, Strikeforce discusses the benefits of digital ticketing.

Australian wine returns to a changed wine market in mainland China

Peter Bailey, Manager, Market Insights, Wine Australia, discusses the opportunities and challenges Australian wine will face on its return into China.

“Research from Wine Intelligence shows that wine consumers in mainland China still have a very high regard for Australian wine, despite being largely absent from the market in the past three years.”

Recently, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced that the anti-dumping duties on Australian wine to mainland China were to be removed from 29 March 2024. This is positive news, as mainland China remains an important market for the Australian wine sector. However, the wine market in mainland China has changed significantly over the past five years.

The biggest change is that wine imports are now a third of what they were five years ago. According to Trade Data Monitor, the volume of wine imported by mainland China has fallen from 688 million litres in 2018 to 248 million litres in 2023. Total wine imports were falling prior to the imposition of the duties in late 2020, however, Australian wine exports were growing against this trend.

Furthermore, between 2017 and 2022, there was also a significant decline in the consumption of Chinese wines in mainland China, with the volume falling by 70 per cent over the period, from 855 million litres to 252 million litres.

The decline in imported and Chinese wines post2020 was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, associated lockdown periods, a slowing economy, and low consumer confidence. The exit of Australia from the wine market hastened this decline.

The retail landscape has changed; there has been less dining out, and more eating and drinking at home. E-commerce has expanded significantly over the past few years.

Competition in the market has intensified, with consumers broadening their tastes beyond Australian wine. Prior to the introduction of the import duties on

bottled Australian wine, Australia was also the number one imported country of origin in mainland China with a 27 per cent volume and 33 per value share of imported wine sales in 2020. Australia’s share of the wine market fell to three per cent by value and two per cent by volume in 2022. The top four importing countries to mainland China in 2023 were France, Chile, Italy, and Spain but all recorded significant declines in the value of imports during the year:

• France – down 15 per cent

• Chile – down 31 per cent

• Italy – down 14 per cent, and

• Spain – down 34 per cent.

Consumer preferences are also changing. While red wine remains the most popular category, wine drinkers in mainland China – especially the younger demographic – have become more open to exploring other wine styles.

IWSR reports that percentage of imported wine drinkers who enjoy trying new and different styles of wine on a regular basis has grown from 46 per cent in 2019 to 55 per cent in 2023. This has seen opportunities expand for white and sparkling wines.

Despite the declining sales, it is hoped that the significant positivity toward the Australian wine category will help reignite the wine market in mainland China. Research from Wine Intelligence shows that wine consumers in mainland China still have a very high regard for Australian wine, despite being largely absent from the market in the past three years.

While the wine market is smaller, there are still opportunities for Australian wineries. ■

Peter Bailey Manager, Market Insights Wine Australia
22 | National Liquor News Wine Australia

Pour yourself a glass of New Zealand white wine

New Zealand Winegrowers is calling on white wine lovers across the world to celebrate New Zealand white wine this May, as well as continuing the quest to secure the white wine emoji.

May is once again the time to shine a light on New Zealand white wine. The theme of the month, Pour Yourself a Glass of New Zealand, comes at a time when New Zealand’s top three exported white wine varieties are internationally celebrated with International Sauvignon Blanc Day (3 May), International Pinot Gris Day (17 May) and International Chardonnay Day (23 May) all falling in the same month.

“New Zealand white wine makes up 93 per cent of our global exports, and while Sauvignon Blanc represents 86 per cent of our exports, New Zealand also produces other world-class white wine varieties such as Pinot Gris and Chardonnay,” says Charlotte Read, General Manager Brand, New Zealand Winegrowers.

New Zealand’s geographical location and maritime climate provide perfect conditions for growing white grapes and allow for the retention of natural acidity across a wide range of varieties. None of the country’s winegrowing regions are far from the sea and coupled with long hours of sunshine and often crisp night temperatures it’s the ideal recipe for pure, fresh, delicate white wines.

Across 10 wine regions, New Zealand produces more than 40 varieties of wine. Sauvignon Blanc may have been the first to put New Zealand wine on the map, however, New Zealand also excels in the production of an increasing range of styles and varieties from Chardonnay to Riesling to Albariño, exemplifying the diversity of winemaking that continues to evolve across both the North and the South Islands.

I have a friend who only drinks white wine, mostly Chardonnay. Every time we go out for a drink together, I’m reminded of the missing white wine emoji. As we text to arrange details, I usually resort to signing off with the clinking champagne glasses or the glass of red wine emoji, but that’s not what we’re doing. We’re going out for a glass of white wine. But there is hope.

In May 2022, New Zealand Winegrowers called on people across the globe to sign the petition for the inclusion of the white wine emoji on global keyboards, and an official request was made to the Unicode Consortium in July. Unfortunately, the request was declined without explanation, and our keyboards are still devoid of an emoji with huge support and demand. Now the two-year grace period to apply has passed, New Zealand is on the quest to obtain the white wine emoji yet again.

Fingers crossed for the emoji, there is no doubt Australians would make good use of it with Sauvignon Blanc remaining a favourite with Australian wine drinkers, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Gris/Grigio growing in popularity.

In the meantime, the public can express how they feel about the missing white wine emoji on the New Zealand Wine message board, which will be used to advance the case this year.

For more information about the Pour Yourself a Glass of New Zealand campaign, visit the campaign page at ■

May 2024 | 23 New Zealand Winegrowers

Aussie spirits’ untapped potential

Chief Executive Greg Holland discusses the heights that could be reached for the Australian spirits industry with adequate government support.

The Australian spirits industry looks forward to participating in the Federal Inquiry into Food and Beverage Manufacturing in Australia, announced in March.

While the terms of reference are much broader than spirits, this is nevertheless the first ever Federal Government Inquiry that is open our sector.

Further, this broader backdrop of food and drink manufacturing will only serve to demonstrate the singular strength of our industry, and its ability to support the Albanese Government’s domestic manufacturing and export agenda.

No category of Australian-manufactured beverages can showcase the distinct flavours of Australia, quite like spirits.

Today, more than 700 distilleries and manufacturing plants punctuate the cities, towns and coastlines of modern Australia. The vast majority of these operations are small, family-run businesses. They are complemented by large global spirits companies, many of which have local manufacturing capabilities.

Together, these producers support a workforce of 5,700 in spirits manufacturing and a further 100,000 jobs throughout our value chain delivering $15.5 billion in added value to the Australian economy each year.

This value-add is most pronounced in the 3.5 million annual visits to distilleries, generating revenue and important economic benefits for regional Australia.

It is experienced through our world-class hospitality offering, showcasing the skill of talented mixologists at some of the world’s best bars; and in the festivals and cultural events the spirits industry makes possible through major sponsorships.

While many of the major household name spirits brands enjoyed in Australia are imported, the premix expressions of these popular brands are

predominately manufactured locally, with all the associated economic benefits.

In fact, 80 per cent of all spirits – comprising fullstrength bottled spirits and RTDs – sold in Australia are bottled and canned as finished products at local manufacturing plants and distilleries using local and imported ingredients.

There is unprecedented global interest in innovative Australian-made products, thanks to the phenomenal accolades our producers have been winning on the world stage.

Without Federal Government intervention, our industry risks missing the opportunity to meet this growing international demand.

While our colleagues in Australian wine reap the benefits of decades of support and investment, Australian spirits manufacturers stalk the corridors of key export markets alone.

The structural disadvantages between alcohol categories, borne of vastly different levels of taxation and industry support, further impede innovation and entrench our competitive disadvantage, thwarting our ability to win at home.

The playbook for sustainable spirits industry growth is writ largely in the success stories of Australia’s strategic allies and key trading partners in Asia, the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States.

When governments in these markets acted decisively and invested in their spirits industries, they reaped the rewards for their vision and action.

Australia is well placed to not only replicate this success, but to fast-track it and dominate the race to win new consumers abroad through export.

For that to happen, the Australian Government must act decisively, and across multiple fronts, to seize the opportunity.

We will relish the opportunity to make this case in Canberra over the coming months. ■

“The structural disadvantages between alcohol categories, borne of vastly different levels of taxation and industry support, further impede innovation and entrench our competitive disadvantage, thwarting our ability to win at home.”

24 | National Liquor News Spirits & Cocktails Australia



Drams Down Under

More than 30 years since craft distilling first became legal in Australia, the whisky we make Down Under is considered world class. Caoimhe Hanrahan-Lawrence finds out what Aussie distillers are doing right.

The Australian whisky category is growing steadily, both in terms of new whiskies hitting the market and with new consumers entering the category. At the same time, Australian whisky is receiving more and more international acclaim, with many whiskies sporting golds from competitions such as the World Whiskies Awards. For an industry that only started in 1992, when Bill Lark lobbied the government to legalise craft distilling, Australian whisky has grown into a formidable part of our liquor industry.

Despite stereotypes about the average whisky drinker, growth in Australian whisky is primarily coming from men and women aged 18 to 35, as Brian Sheedy, Liquor Marketing Manager, Vok Beverages, told National Liquor News

“Many people think consumers are all over 50, but we are finding great growth in the younger demographic. Many are curious about what products are made from or the distillery’s story and want to support local,” he said.

The lifecycle of Aussie whisky

Australian whisky is influenced by our climate, celebrated agriculture, unique approach to distilling, and other successful drinks categories. Dave Vitale, Founder, Starward explained that the confluence of these factors makes for a unique range of products.

“In Australia you can find whiskies made in the finest of Scottish traditions, and then on the other end of the spectrum you can find whiskies that are unapologetically different due to ingredients, process or even climate,” he said.

Whisky begins with distilled malt and barley, and Australia’s strong agricultural industry provides us with great ingredients from the get-go. Cameron Syme, Founder and Head Distiller, Great Southern Distilling Company, spoke to the quality of Australian grains.

“Australian distilleries are still the new kids on the block, as many people see it, but it’s our quality that is opening doors and driving export growth. Whisky is a reflection and concentration of the agricultural produce of the region where it is made and sourced from. In global terms, regional Australia produces some of the very best grains in the world. We are blessed with quality water, quality grain, and a clean environment,” he said.

After distillation, the spirit is transferred to a barrel or cask, which is where Australia’s world-renowned wine industry plays a role.

26 | National Liquor News Trade Buyer’s Guide
“In Australia you can find whiskies made in the finest of Scottish traditions, and then on the other end of the spectrum you can find whiskies that are unapologetically different due to ingredients, process or even climate.”
Dave Vitale, Founder, Starward Whisky

Casks are purchased empty, and prices can reach thousands of dollars for a single Sherry or Port cask, indicating the importance in whisky production.

Many Australian distilleries, such as Starward Whisky, use Australian red wine casks. For Founder Dave Vitale, this is a central part of the Starward story.

“All good whiskies talk to the place they’re made, in terms of ingredients, but the best talk to the culture of the place. Australia has so much to offer here, from our sheer size and climate variations, through to ingredients.

“That’s why we use the red wine barrels, because nothing says Australia from a drinks perspective like red wine. We’re leaning into what makes whisky distinctive, but with an Australian attitude,” he said.

Morris Whisky has a unique advantage when it comes to using Australian wine casks, as Michael Sergeant, Head of Global Marketing and Sales, explained.

“Morris is one of the only distilleries in the world that uses family-owned wine casks for both aging and finishing. Our whiskies are matured in

ex-red wine barrels that have been brought back to life by our cooper, while finishing takes place in barrels that have held award-winning Morris of Rutherglen fortified wines,” he said.

Additionally, Australia has more flexibility when it comes to what kinds of casks can be used.

Whereas the Scotch Whisky Association requires the use of oak casks, the Australian regulations only specify that the casks must be similar to oak.

At Archie Rose Distilling Co., Head Distiller Dave Withers has been experimenting with new types of wood.

“We’re exploring using native Australian wood casks for some of our releases, as seen with our latest release Heritage Red Gum Cask Single Malt Whisky, which makes for a remarkable spirit. This kind of innovation is unique to Australia and helps share our rich provenance story,” he said.

After the whisky has been put into a barrel, Australian standards require it to age for a minimum of two years. Scott Allan, The Whisky List’s National On-Premise Sales Lead, described how the climate affects the process of whisky aging.


In the past, Australian whisky has been perceived as prohibitively expensive, especially with craft distillers being unable to match the scale and therefore the price of larger international distilleries.

“We know that Australians love drinking Australian spirits, but the artisanal nature of craft distilling means that our products, along with other incredible distillers, are often reserved for the top shelf, with international brands still dominating the market,” Withers said.

However, as the category matures, we are seeing many more budget options in the Australian whisky space. This provides an entry point for new consumers, as well as a means of retaining consumers during the current cost-of-living crisis.

“Lots of distilleries started with their single malt whisky which is higher ABV and higher in price. Those high prices have meant that it becomes hard for new consumers to take a leap of faith on a bottle over $120. Thankfully, now we are seeing more options from $75 to $100, which are more approachable, both from a palate and wallet perspective,” Sheedy said.

May 2024 | 27 Trade Buyer’s Guide

“Morris is one of the only distilleries in the world that uses family-owned wine casks for both aging and finishing. Our whiskies are matured in ex-red wine barrels that have been brought back to life by our cooper, while finishing takes place in barrels that have held awardwinning Morris of Rutherglen fortified wines.”

“Our climate has a higher temperature on average than somewhere like Scotland, and it’s more variable. The cask is like a lung. It’s breathing in and out with the weather getting hotter or colder. The higher the variability, the more spirit is sucked into the barrel and the more flavour is breathed back into the whisky,” he said.

This means that Australian whiskies can develop strong colour and flavour in a much shorter time span. According to Oliver Maruda, co-Founder of The Whisky List, this accelerated aging means that Australian whiskies can be of remarkably high quality for their age.

“Consumers have been trained by the Scottish market, which labels whiskies as a 10-year-old or 12-year-old. An 18-year-old is king. We’ve been trying to educate the Australian market that Aussie whiskies that are two years or five years old could be on par with a 20-year-old Scotch,” he said.

Tasmanian exceptionalism

While the southernmost state still produces some great grain and has access to quality barrels, the climate is much cooler, and does not see the rapid aging that characterises much of mainland Australian whisky. Nevertheless, Tasmanian whisky is incredibly popular and well-regarded, not least because Tasmania was the birthplace of modern craft distilling in Australia.

Chris Thomson, Master Blender, Lark Distilling Co., commended Bill and Lyn Lark for their continued contribution to the Australian whisky industry.

“If you step back and look at the industry that has been built from Bill and Lyn Lark’s determination to make a great single malt whisky on this island, all success stems from their endeavours back in 1992,” he said.

Thomson expanded on the role of Tasmania’s climate on the whisky produced there.

“The cool climate and unique terroir impart distinct characteristics to its whisky. The island’s pristine environment influences the maturation process, resulting in whiskies with unique flavour profiles. This goldilocks climate, not too hot, not too cold, is something we harness to produce exceptional single malt whisky. The high-quality ingredients, including locally grown barley and pure water sources contribute to the premium product, and smooth and balanced single malt,” he said.

Owner of Overeem Whisky, Jane Overeem, said that the stories behind Tasmanian whisky are one of the things that make it so appealing.

“Tasmania has exceptional local ingredients and a great climate for maturing whisky. These elements have always been communicated with our storytelling, the way we run and host our distillery tours and events and also through the words we use on our packaging. Tasmania is the home of a large number of distilleries on a small island, producing whiskies that continue to receive global awards and praise and if that continues, I believe the prestige will hold,” she said.

28 | National Liquor News Trade Buyer’s Guide

Loving local

Producers who spoke to National Liquor News continue to notice a trend of buying local, which is becoming even more pronounced as consumers come to appreciate the world-class quality of Australian whisky.

“We are finding that more and more people want to support local products, which is wonderful. There is much to love about Australian whisky, from consistency in quality to innovation and interesting barrel types, the variety being produced from one distillery to the next and of course, the people behind the brands,” Overeem said.

Consumers also benefit from different avenues of exposure to Australian whisky distilleries, whether that be through visiting the distillery during a holiday, trying it at their local bar, or meeting the distiller at an event held by a retailer. Many distilleries continue to build this connection with the consumer by sharing details of the distilling process, such as bottling dates or malt composition.

“We’re always striving to champion the growth of Australian whisky through education, awareness and transparency of production techniques and ingredients. Now more than ever, Australians are

“Now more than ever, Australians are choosing to drink local and so it’s important that we’re leveraging Australia’s diverse terroir to craft distinct whiskies that resonate with consumers’ love for locality.”
Dave Withers, Master Distiller, Archie Rose Distilling Co.

choosing to drink local and so it’s important that we’re leveraging Australia’s diverse terroir to craft distinct whiskies that resonate with consumers’ love for locality,” Withers said.

While Australia does not have whisky regions as distinct as Scotland’s, Great Southern Distilling Company’s Syme expects that consumers will begin to appreciate a whisky’s place of origin as the profile of other produce from the region grows.

“Like Margaret River, Great Southern also produces phenomenal quality wine grapes and wines, and other agricultural produce, but the Great Southern region as a geographic indicator is not really known at all within Australia, let alone overseas. It is great seeing more focus on the quality of all produce coming from these regions, not just wine and beer, but spirits, cheeses, smallgoods, and other quality produce. Our geographic indicators will become more and more valuable as designating the quality of the entire region,” he said. ■


Like Champagne and Tequila, Sherry is a protected geographical indicator, meaning that it can only be made in Spain. As Australia can no longer legally produce Sherry, the fortified wine is now referred to as Apera, and Australian distilleries have increasingly begun to refer to their whiskies aged in these casks as Apera cask whiskies. However, as Sherry cask whisky is a well-known style, and there was some initial reticence by distillers to use the Apera name on their labels.

“I think most wine drinkers would have come across Apera at some point, so the newer distilleries are more comfortable using the name. But five years ago, it was very risky to call it Apera cask because of the fear that some consumers would think ‘I don’t know what that is, so I’m not going to buy it,” Maruda said.

For Morris, using the Australian names like Apera and Topaque, which was recently changed from Tokay to distinguish it from Hungarian Tokaji wines, is another way to highlight the whisky’s origin story.

“At Morris we are playing with a number of different whisky bases and an incredible library of fortified barrels such as Tawny, Apera, Topaque and Muscat to create whiskies that not only appeal to a broad range of tastes but are also all uniquely Australian,” Sergeant said.

30 | National Liquor News Trade Buyer’s Guide
To find out more, please contact your Southtrade representative or contact us at or (02) 8080 9150. Please Enjoy Starward Responsibly. TAKE WHISKY SOMEWHERE NEW

Overeem Single Malt Whisky, Sherry Cask Matured, Cask Strength

Distillery: Overeem Distillery, Tasmania

ABV: 60% Size: 700ml Gold 98 points

Distributor: Direct from distillery

“On the nose, multilayered aromas of nuts, oak, light caramel. The palate is viscous, coupled with a sweet and long finish with Sherry, plum and oak flavours. Exceptional.” – Carolyn Etherington

Starward 100 Proof

Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Starward Distillery, Victoria

ABV: 50% Size: 700ml Gold 96 points

Distributor: SouthTrade


“Nose of classic spicy fruits. Gorgeous colour reflecting a quality ageing program. Its long finish, reminiscent of fruit cake, reveals a little marzipan and even some 65 per cent dark chocolate.”

– James France

Morris Sherry Barrel

Australian Whisky

Distillery: Morris Whisky, Victoria

ABV: 46% Size: 700ml Silver 94 points

Distributor: Vanguard Luxury Brands

“A super interesting and wellbalanced whisky. On the richer side, it has nice smoke vs sweetness, and is very moreish.” – Raphael Redant

“Australian whiskies tend to be more lively and varied – partially because they use a wider variety of grains. Aussie distillers aren’t afraid to experiment, because at this stage there are no norms to break.”

– James France, Vanguard Luxury Brands


James France, Spirits Consultant and Founder, Vanguard Luxury Brands

Carolyn Etherington, Innovation Manager, Lark Distilling Co

Kathleen Davies, Founder, NOC Wholesale

Cape Byron ‘The Original’

Australian Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Cape Byron Distillery, New South Wales

ABV: 47% Size: 700ml

Silver 94 points

Distributor: Direct from Cape Byron Distillery, ALM, and Paramount

“On the nose, great notes of caramel, coffee and toffee complemented by floral aromas. The palate is balanced with tropical and pear notes flourishing.”

– Carolyn Etherington

Overeem Single Malt Whisky, Bourbon Cask Matured, Distiller Strength

Distillery: Overeem Distillery, Tasmania

ABV: 43% Size: 700ml

Silver 94 points

Distributor: Direct from distillery

“A rich Australian whisky with notes of caramel and cinnamon. On the palate it is sharp saffron and spices. Highly recommend it!”

– Grégoire Bertaud

Starward Two-Fold

Double Grain Whisky

Distillery: Starward Distillery, Victoria

ABV: 40% Size: 700ml

Silver 93 points

Distributor: SouthTrade International

“Very light and dangerously drinkable. White pepper, orange on the palate with a lingering, smooth finish.” – Emma Fogarty

James Somerset, National Sales & Distribution Manager, Independent Beverage Partners at Australian Liquor Marketers

Ivana Zaric, Category Manager – Spirits & RTDs, Independent Liquor Group

Andrew Graham, Wine and Drinks Journalist

Lara Gardner, Senior Marketing Manager, Morris Whisky

Vanessa Wilton, Marketing Director and Co-Founder, Coastal Stone Whisky/Manly Spirits Co

Alice Newport, Brand Ambassador, James B. Beam Distilling Co

Lucille Rose, Head of Advocacy, Swift & Moore and Co-Owner, Jolenes

David Whittaker, Co-Founder, Coastal Stone Whisky/Manly Spirits Co

Larry Aronson, Manager Sales & Distribution, The Whisky List

Raphael Redant, Venue Manager, Hickson House Distilling Co

Emma Fogarty, Independent Consultant

Lucas Bucton, Brand Ambassador, Banks & Solander Distillery

Grégoire Bertaud, Managing Director, Noble Spirits

Geoff Bollom, Wine & Spirits Expert, Porters Glebe/Balmain

Jim Butcher, Editor, Mr & Mrs Romance

Mark Dorrell, CEO, Allied Beverages

Max Harkness, Co-Founder and Director, Co-Partnership

32 | National Liquor News Trade Buyer’s Guide

Lark Classic Cask

Distillery: Lark Distillery, Tasmania

ABV: 43% Size: 500ml

Silver 92 points

Distributor: Direct from distillery, contact

“Buttery popcorn aromas.

Caramelised popcorn on the palate. Very enjoyable.” – Emma Fogarty

Morris Signature Single Malt

Australian Whisky

Distillery: Morris Whisky, Victoria

ABV: 40% Size: 700ml

Silver 92 points

Distributor: Vanguard Luxury Brands

“An unassuming and easy to drink whisky. Very quaffable with interesting notes of maple syrup and nuts. On the palate there are interesting flavours of grilled barley and walnut that move into a longlasting finish.” – Carolyn Etherington

Morris Tokay Barrel

Australian Whisky

Distillery: Morris Whisky, Victoria

ABV: 48% Size: 700ml

Silver 92 points

Distributor: Vanguard Luxury Brands

“It tastes like someone has just put out their cigar on a leather couch covered in brown sugar. A very interesting drop that requires attention to unfold.” – Lucas Bucton

Limeburners Single Malt

Port Cask Whisky

Distillery: Limeburners, Western Australia

ABV: 43% Size: 700ml

Silver 91 points

Distributor: Enquiries to Paul Burke,

“Must have had some contact with red wine or port casks. This defines to me how Aussie whiskies should taste. Lovely cereal notes on the nose, which make me think of farm visits as a kid. Enjoy with oysters or smoked cheese.” – James France

Amber Lane Silk Road

Australian Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Amber Lane Distillery, New South Wales

ABV: 58% Size: 700ml

Silver 91 points

Distributor: The Whisky List

“Extremely approachable considering the ABV. The aroma is very pleasant and sets up the whisky well. I would highly recommend this for a fan of smoky whiskies.” – Ivana Zaric

Amber Lane Sleigh Bells

Australian Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Amber Lane Distillery, New South Wales

ABV: 58% Size: 700ml

Silver 91 points

Distributor: The Whisky List

“Ashy, oaky nose. Smoky caramelised flavour on the palate.” – Emma Fogarty

Bellarine Distillery Single Malt

Whisky ‘OAK Series’

Distillery: Bellarine Distillery, Victoria

ABV: 52% Size: 700ml

Silver 91 points

Distributor: Paramount or

“Australian whisky is so wonderfully diverse and versatile. This means it’s suitable for everything from complex, long cocktails to neat or on the rocks.” – Jim Butcher, Mr & Mrs Romance


“It’s always so different, so unique, and so special. Australian whisky has improved out of sight over the last five years, and I’m so impressed by the line-up we tasted today.”

– Vanessa Wilton, Manly Spirits Co

“It’s unashamadly Aussie. It takes risks, it’s brave, bold, and fun.” – Kathleen Davies, NOC Wholesale

“Australia is blessed by a variety of climate, a vibrant wine industry, and a very impressive food culture. It’s no wonder that Aussie whiskies are fantastic and so eclectic.”

– Grégoire Bertaud, Noble Spirits

“Australian whiskies have a uniqueness, even amongst products that are relatively close geographically. There is a prevalence of local and native ingredients being used, and many distilleries are experimenting with the maturation process, which means the final liquid is one of a kind.”

– Ivana Zaric, Independent Liquor Group

“A thirst for experimentation sets the Aussies apart!”

– Emma Fogarty, Independent Consultant

“Aussie whiskies are really interesting with so many different styles and profiles. The viscosity on some make them so much more drinkable that Scotch whiskies.” – Carolyn Etherington, Lark Distillery

Bellarine Distillery (Direct)

“Really pleasant and approachable for such a high ABV. Balanced, dark, rich fruit with good oak influence.” – Lara Gardner

Thousand Lakes Single Malt

Whisky, Sherry Cask

Distillery: Western Tiers Distillery, Tasmania

ABV: 49% Size: 700ml

Silver 91 points

Distributor: Western Tiers

Distillery Pty Ltd

“Burnt butter on the nose with a touch of honey, vanilla and dried spice on the palate. The palate is long and smooth.” – Max Harkness

Limeburners Single Malt Darkest

Winter Whisky M481

Distillery: Limeburners, Western Australia

ABV: 61.1% Size: 700ml

Silver 91 points

Distributor: Enquiries to Paul Burke,

“A great whisky. Resin and piney with a rich long finish.” – Raphael Redant

Classic Cask Release

Distillery: Bathurst Grange

Distillery, New South Wales

ABV: 46% Size: 700ml

Silver 90 points

Distributor: Direct from distillery

“Enjoy this banger with a cheese

34 | National Liquor News Trade Buyer’s Guide




board on the beach while listening to INXS.” – Kathleen Davies

The Gospel Solera Rye

Distillery: The Gospel, Victoria

ABV: 42.5% Size: 700ml Silver 90 points

Distributor: Vanguard Luxury Brands

“Pleasant mix of aromas – banana and pecan pie. Round palate, great for sipping or mixing.”

– Emma Fogarty

Archie Rose Rye Malt Whisky

Distillery: Archie Rose Distillery, New South Wales

ABV: 46% Size: 700ml Silver 90 points

Distributor: Through your preferred wholesaler

“This certainly has an extra juicy edge, smooth rich caramel and lovely integration. Quite generous.”

– Andrew Graham

Starward Solera Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Starward Distillery, Victoria

ABV: 43% Size: 700ml Silver 90 points

Distributor: SouthTrade


“A great tasting Aussie whisky with a hint of Caramello Koala on the nose and a soft mouthfeel. This whisky would pair perfectly with the Hoodoo Gurus!” – Kathleen Davies

The Gospel Straight Rye

Distillery: The Gospel, Victoria

ABV: 45% Size: 700ml

Bronze 89 points

Distributor: Vanguard Luxury Brands

“Like walking into a candy shop. Smells like milk bottle lollies, Wizz Fizz and sherbet. Drink this delicate whisky neat while listening to Aussie hip hop.” – Kathleen Davies

Corowra Characters

Distillery: Corowra Distilling Co, New South Wales

ABV: 46% Size: 500ml

Bronze 89 points

Distributor: ICONIC Beverages

“This whisky was very good with a complex nose of caramel, stonefruit and butterscotch. Smokiness on the nose leads to a ‘single malt’ style palate with a rounded and balanced finish.” – James Somerset

Amber Lane Equinox Australian

Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Amber Lane Distillery, New South Wales

ABV: 46% Size: 700ml

Bronze 89 points

Distributor: The Whisky List

“A full-bodied flavour bomb. Rich and opulent with developing colour. Coats the palate and leads to a smooth, refined finish.”

– James Somerset

“Aussie whiskies are the future… it is only just beginning as we follow the Japanese.” – David Whittaker, Coastal Stone Whisky


“Australian whiskies are world class, and the global awards back this up. Australian distillers have always been creative – across all spirits categories – and once the excise tax discrepency is resolved, I hope we can see these great whiskies enjoy the respect that they so richly deserve.”

– James France, Vanguard Luxury Brands

“Because a strong homemade whisky market will help drive the quality of global whisky. And how much more fun is it to have local flavours?” – Andrew Graham, Wine & Drinks Journalist

“The category is growing and evolving continually. Australian distillers are showing true innovation in barrel techniques and finish styles.” – Lara Gardner, Morris Whisky

“Aussie consumers are looking for local but the value and quality needs to stack up. Local distilleries need support to gain share of mouth against larger imported players.”

– James Somerset, Independent Beverage Partners at Australian Liquor Marketers

“The quality is world class. The trade should support an industry that is driven by passion yet is still creating world class whisky.” – Max Harkness, Co-Partnership

“One of the best things about Aussie whisky is how flexible the category is. Although many follow the Scotch whisky methods, it’s fascinating to see rye, Bourbon, Irish and other whisk(e)y styles under the banner.” – Jim Butcher, Mrs & Mrs Romance

“There’s so much talent and knowledge in the Aussie liquor industry. It’s exciting to see where it can go with the right support.” – Emma Fogarty, Indepenednt Consultant

36 | National Liquor News Trade Buyer’s Guide


Morris of Rutherglen is Australia’s most awarded winery established in 1859 in regional Victoria, and still works with the Morris family who are making wine in the winery to this day. Morris Whisky is made from all Australian local ingredients, including local Australian barley. All whiskies are double distilled in a one-of-a-kind hybrid column copper-pot still that was first installed in the 1930’s.

The hot summers and cool winters of the Australian Rutherglen region allow increased interaction with oak for optimal flavour development and complexity. What makes this whisky so special is that while it’s a super high quality single malt in a full size, 700ml bottle, it’s still incredibly approachable both in terms of its delicious taste and also its price. To taste it’s wonderfully well-rounded, balancing sweet, floral and biscuit aromas with the richness and warmth of caramel, marzipan and dark berry flavours.

Signature Whisky is 40 per cent ABV and comes in a 700ml bottle.

Distributor: Vanguard Luxury Brands

“Supporting Australian distillers supports the whole food chain. From grain growers to label producers to skilled labour. We need the trade to support the education of the public, that Australian whisky is world class and not something

on the bottom shelf in retail – encourage trial!”
– Vanessa Wilson, Manly Spirits Co

Morris Australian Single Malt

Whisky - Smoked Muscat

Distillery: Morris Whisky, Victoria

ABV: 48.3% Size: 700ml

Bronze 89 points

Distributor: Vanguard Luxury Brands

“Really enjoyed this whisky. Warm, spicy and smoky.” – Lucille Rose

Overeem Single Malt Whisky, Sherry Cask Matured, Distiller Strength

Distillery: Overeem Distillery, Tasmania

ABV: 43% Size: 700ml

Bronze 89 points

Distributor: Direct from distillery

“Overall, very approachable, and well-balanced. No one component overpowers.” – Ivana Zaric

Overeem Single Malt Whisky, Port Cask Matured, Cask Strength

Distillery: Overeem Distillery, Tasmania

ABV: 60% Size: 700ml

Bronze 88 points

Distributor: Direct from distillery

“Rich burnt butter and caramel nose. Big mouthfeel and fruit cake flavours. The finish builds with delicate warmth.” – Max Harkness

Archie Rose Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Archie Rose Distillery, New South Wales

ABV: 46% Size: 700ml

Bronze 87 points

Distributor: Through your preferred wholesaler

“Dark chocolate on the nose, which carries through onto the palate with hints of smoke and a nice long, lingering finish.” – Larry Aronson

Coastal Stone – Nor’easter

Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Coastal Stone Whisky / Manly Spirits Co, New South Wales

ABV: 46% Size: 700ml

Bronze 87 points

Distributor: Manly Spirits Co

“I desperately want a Manhattan as soon as I taste this whisky.”

– Jim Butcher

Thank you to Hickson House Distilling Co for allowing us to host our Aussie Whisky tasting at your venue.

May 2024 | 37 Trade Buyer’s Guide


When David Vitale founded Starward Whisky in 2007, he set out to create a delicious and distinctly Australian whisky he could offer to the world with pride. Over the last 16 years, Starward grown its core range, continued to push boundaries with new limited releases, expanded into global markets, and are proudly the number one Australian whisky brand in our home market (source: Circana July 2023).

Passionate about showcasing its whisky, Starward has created new packaging that is modern, impactful, and groundbreaking in the whisky category. Starward whisky is born out of red wine barrels, and so is the design for its new label. Inspired by the winesoaked staves, the starburst lines of the new label represent looking into a wine barrel that is used to mature the whisky. The label design communicates the unique story and flavour of each of the brand’s whiskies. Beyond creating an outrageously delicious whisky, one of Starward’s core brand and organisational values is care. When working on this project, the team wanted to ensure any changes that were made would also have a positive environmental impact. That is why they’ve moved their glass production onshore, reduced the glass weight in the Single Malt bottles by around 200g per bottle, moved to approximately 50 per cent recycled glass content in every 700ml bottle, and have implemented a plant-based closure.

Distributor: Southtrade and available via all good wholesalers


Whisky tasting notes can vary greatly, from pepper and smoke to vanilla and Christmas pudding. While notes of caramel and vanilla can be due to oak itself, sweeter flavours such as sultanas and other dried fruits often come from fortified wine barrels.

“At Morris we have found that the rich complexity of flavours that develop in our aged fortifieds beautifully complement the smooth creaminess of our malt whisky. While fortified wines are known for their sweetness, we believe that understanding the nuance of flavours and finding the right balance to allow the whisky to shine is key,” Seargent said.

However, the Australian whisky market is not entirely made up of sweeter, fortified wine cask drams. Distilleries are taking cues from whisky styles across the world, producing with spicy rye whiskies or powerful smoked and peated expressions.

At this point in time, Sheedy doesn’t think that there is a distinct flavour preference in the Australian market.

“I think the tastes and preferences are developing much like Australian whisky. Ultimately a lot of consumers start out looking for smooth, rich, and round flavours, flavours that typically include malt, vanilla, and hints of citrus. As some consumers progress, they want more complexity, more ABV, longer barrel aging, and limited quantities,” he said.

38 | National Liquor News Trade Buyer’s Guide

Hellyers Road Double Cask

Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Hellyers Road Distillery, Tasmania

ABV: 46.2% Size: 700ml

Bronze 86 points

Distributor: Paramount (mainland), ALM (Tas), Direct

“Feels like rolling vanilla custard in and around my mouth. A very pleasantly balanced mouthfeel, sweet vanilla as the dominant note with a little juicy, fruity hint on the finish.” – Lucas Bucton

Morris Muscat Barrel Australian Whisky

Distillery: Morris Whisky, Victoria

ABV: 46% Size: 700ml

Bronze 86 points

Distributor: Vanguard Luxury Brands

“I would pair this with honey glazed port. It’s sweet with a smoky aftertaste – a unique flavour profile. It deserves a taste if you like adventure.” – Kathleen Davies

Bosque Verde

Distillery: Corowra Distilling Co,

New South Wales

ABV: 46% Size: 500ml

Bronze 85 points

Distributor: ICONIC Beverages

“Cherry and ripe plum, caramel and toast. Alcohol carries length and gives fantastic caramel notes.” – James Somerset

23rd Street Australian Whisky

Distillery: Twenty Third Street Distillery, South Australia

ABV: 40% Size: 700ml

Bronze 85 points

Distributor: Vok Beverages

“Really approachable for a whisky of such

ABV. Understated, good entry level whisky that is great on its own or would also be ideal for mixing.” – Lara Gardner

The Remnant Whisky Co. Golden Fleece

Tasmanian Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: The Remnant Whisky Co, Tasmania

ABV: 45% Size: 500ml

Bronze 84 points

Distributor: The Whisky List

“A pleasant whisky with notes of aniseed, liquorice and slight orange peel.”

– Geoff Bollom

Lark Symphony No. 1

Distillery: Lark Distillery, Tasmania

ABV: 40.2% Size: 500ml

Bronze 83 points

Distributor: Direct from distillery, contact

“A good, balanced everyday drinking whisky with caramel, marzipan notes on the palate.”

– Lara Gardner

36 South

Distillery: Morris Whisky, Victoria

ABV: 40% Size: 700ml

Bronze 82 points

Distributor: Vanguard Luxury Brands

“A unique style with a very ‘farm-y’ quality. Initial nose is quite dusty and earthy, after time a slightly herbal note comes through. The palate is coated with a lingering agricultural flavour on the finish.”

– Lucas Bucton

Starward Nova Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Starward Distillery, Victoria

ABV: 46% Size: 700ml

Bronze 81 points

Distributor: SouthTrade International

“This one really grew on me. Fresh white flesh fruit on the nose, almost rosé wine-like, with Turkish Delight flavours.” – Max Harkness

Bourbon Cask Release

Distillery: Bathurst Grange Distillery, New South Wales

ABV: 46% Size: 700ml

Bronze 81 points

Distributor: Direct

“Chocolate pudding aromas with a sweet, mocha palate and medium finish.”

– Larry Aronson



Award-winning spirits producer, 23rd Street Distillery, has unveiled its Australian Whisky and Whisky & Cola RTD range, boldly asserting its South Australian distillery in the global whisky market. Handcrafted to perfection; the result is a liquid masterpiece that not only celebrates local ingredients and makers but has been a project that has been four years in the making.

Matured in 23rd Street Distillery’s historic Barrel Hall located in South Australia’s Riverland area, the warm dry summers and mild winters provide the perfect climate to create an intense, unique whisky flavour that’s distinctly Australian.

After investing a significant amount of time in the early stages of creating the new Australian whisky range, the team at 23rd Street Distillery ensured they could answer some very important questions; what do Australians want in whisky and is there opportunity to insert their brand into the fiercely competitive imported whisky category? After discovering that 95 per cent of whisky available is imported, the team knew their job was to challenge this and design a whisky to be savoured and enjoyed in the same climate as it’s matured in.

With a history of winning internationally, 23rd Street wanted to showcase the bold spirit of Australia. This new whisky range is made by Australians for Australians, and it is designed to be enjoyed any way you like.

Available in full strength 40 per cent ABV 700ml format and RTD five per cent and eight per cent ABV 375ml format.

Distributor: Vok Beverages

May 2024 | 39 Trade Buyer’s Guide

Archie Rose Champions Aussie Spirits

National Liquor News sat down with Founder Will Edwards to talk about the distillery’s history and its plans for the future.

Archie Rose Distilling Co is one of the biggest names in Australian craft distilling, producing a wide range of award-winning spirits that are enjoyed both across the country and internationally.

Since the distillery was founded in 2014, the goal of Archie Rose has been to create great spirits and raise the profile of Australian distilling as a whole, according to Founder Will Edwards.

“With conviction, we strive to redefine Australia’s rich tradition in distilling by producing the highest quality whisky, gin, vodka, rum and spirits experiences with a vision to be the world’s most desirable and respected spirits brand by bringing the highest quality Australian spirits and spirits experiences to people everywhere,” he said.

Ten years after its foundation, the distillery now produces a broad range of spirits, including whiskies, gins, vodkas, and rums, as well as one-off collaborations and limited releases. Edwards has seen the industry change significantly since 2014, witnessing growth both in the number of distilleries and in the recognition of Australian distilling in the international arena.

“When Archie Rose began there were a handful of distilleries in Australia. Ten years on and there are now upwards of 300, so the industry has changed significantly and is more competitive than ever. It’s great to see Australia producing some of the best spirits in the world, as we have access to an incredible array of local and native botanicals for gins, as well as arguably the best malt in the world. We truly don’t have to look far for some of the highest quality spirits ingredients in the world.

“Wherever possible, Archie Rose strives to work closely with producers who focus on sustainability and understand the impact of their growing, harvesting and processing methods, rather than working with ingredients that are commoditised en masse,” he said.

In 2020, Archie Rose opened its new state-of-the-art facility in Banksmeadow,

40 | National Liquor News Trade Buyer’s Guide - Distillery Spotlight
Dave Withers and Will Edwards

which features a number of custom designed and world-first production elements. Thanks to the equipment at the Banksmeadow site, the Archie Rose team has been able to transition to different production processes, such as cold distilling botanicals for gin and vodka, and utilising an innovative and patented individual malt stream process for its whisky production. Edwards cited opening the new production facility as a major milestone for Archie Rose.

“The new distillery, which was in development for over four years, was a significant step towards fulfilling our ambition of showcasing Australia’s incredible ingredients and innovation, while giving more people the opportunity to drink top quality, local spirits.

“It’s also great to see Australian spirits paving the way for new distilling techniques, we strongly believe in paying homage to traditional distilling techniques while forging a new-world approach,” he said.

Despite opening the larger Banksmeadow site, the distillery’s original home of Roseberry continues to be a part of the brand, both through its cellar door and its name.

“The name Archie Rose is inspired by Rosebery, the site of our original distillery, and some of its early residents. So even as Archie Rose grows to new locations and products over time the name will always convey a sense of place, a home, and a connection to where everything began, in Rosebery,” Edwards said.

Archie Rose has a particular goal to increase the proportion of Australian spirits being sold, both in the on- and off-premise.

“Our broad spirit portfolio encompasses both premium and accessibility-priced product ranges. The Fundamental Spirits range was created with the on-premise in mind and we are ecstatic to see it landing in more rails and backbars across Australia.

“To be able to provide a spirit range that challenges the international competitors on

price while maintaining the highest level of quality that Australians have come to expect from Archie Rose is one of our biggest and most rewarding achievements to date. It’s great to be able to finally offer this to the on-premise,” Edwards said.

Looking to the future, Edwards is excited to continue to produce quality spirits, and continue to grow the number of consumers choosing to drink Archie Rose.

“We’re constantly innovating how we bring the highest quality Australian spirits to more people across the globe. While our Signature Range remains our focus, you can expect to see native botanicals on display and experimental whiskies and rums through our limited-edition releases,” he said.

“Our Fundamental Spirits and new premix can range is also one of the most accessible ways we can share our quality spirits with the world, so we’re excited to see how this evolves and expands in the coming years.” ■

“We’re constantly innovating how we bring the highest quality Australian spirits to more people across the globe. While our Signature Range remains our focus, you can expect to see native botanicals on display and experimental whiskies and rums through our limitededition releases.”
Will Edwards,
Founder, Archie Rose
May 2024 | 41 Trade Buyer’s Guide - Distillery Spotlight

The appetite for aperitifs

Aperitif spirits represent a flourishing category, and with the aperitivo drinking occasion gaining cultural relevance in Australia, Molly Nicholas explores the appeal of the category as the temperature drops.

Some of the oldest evidence of aperitif spirits dates back as far as the 1300s, but the ritualistic consumption of aperitifs was first introduced in Italy several hundred years ago, and the long-held tradition has since become widespread.

The aperitivo, often enjoyed as a pre-dinner drink, was a relatively new phenomenon in Australia up until 10 years ago. Marking the transition from the workday into the evening, the aperitivo lends itself well to Australia’s daytimeoriented drinking and now represents a flourishing market.

Globally, the IWSR predicts that the spirit and wine aperitif category will grow at a five per cent volume CAGR between 2021 and 2026, with the category proving especially popular among no- and lowalcohol consumers.

Enticing consumers with its ease for athome cocktail consumption, the trend has established itself in the Australian market as a habitual moment of getting together, and although the temperature is starting to drop, aperitifs are here to stay.

Category evolution

The aperitif market typically encompasses traditional European styles such as vermouth, Sherry and amaro, but Blake Vanderfield-Kramer, Regional Manager –APAC at Intrepid Spirits, says Australianmade aperitifs have overhauled the market.

“When Regal Rogue debuted in 2011, it stood as the sole Australian-made brand in the market. However, today, there are over 35 brands offering 150+ styles, signifying a significant shift towards these types of products,” he says.

Longstanding traditions mean that bigger brands have often dominated market share, but Linn Philips-Johansson, Brand Owner and Director of Australian rhubarb aperitif Rhubi Mistelle, has also observed market diversification.

“We’re seeing a rise of independent craft in the world of aperitifs, with younger, local and more innovative brands challenging the old-school aperitif brands. Localised ingredients and lower sugar alternatives are becoming more popular and offer a great point of difference,” she said.

With Australian made aperitifs leading category innovation, Adriane McDermott, Founder and CEO of Australian native plum aperitif Tanica, sees an opportunity for premiumisation.

“What’s interesting about the category is where the growth is coming from. When

42 | National Liquor News Aperitifs
“The aperitif occasion is perfect for our climate and our cultural norms. The whole idea of the aperitif is ultimately to open the palate for a meal, but it’s a real social occasion.”
Tanya Mah, Head of Marketing, Amber Beverage Australia

European appeal

Locally made aperitifs are giving the category a unique Australian flair, but PhilipsJohansson says retailers can still lean into European culture for marketing influence.

“In our view, retailers should look towards southern Europe for inspiration on how to create the perfect aperitivo moment and transport consumers there with beautiful instore point of sale and serve suggestions.”

And while the Australian market might reposition itself as the season changes, Marinoni says the European image still offers great appeal.

“While it’s winter in Australia, we are seeing the beauty of a European summer across our social media channels, so it’s only natural that Aussies want to replicate it at home.”

we saw IWSR December 2022 data showing Premium Aperitifs above $55 were growing at +126 per cent with a distinct lack of Australian offerings, we knew we had to innovate in this space to capture the demand that was already there,” said McDermott.

Recent success of aperitif spirits has been fueled by category modernisation but changing tastes and preferences have also accelerated growth.

Data gathered by Growth Scope Australia saw the preference for ‘refreshing and revitalising’ cocktails rise 43 per cent in the last two years, while CGA data saw the Spritz climb eight places to become the seventh most popular cocktail in the USA in 2023.

The light flavours and easy-drinking nature of aperitif spirits and cocktails puts the category in a strong position to capitalise on this trend, but not without further consumer education.

Although aperitivo moments are enjoyed by the everyday Aussie with the likes of pre-dinner drinks and long lunches, Australian consumers might not traditionally associate these occasions with the term ‘aperitif’.

Photo credit: Photographer Sabine Schwarz
May 2024 | 43 Aperitifs
“The good thing about the aperitif category is that it’s a very good second, or even third bottle purchase for a retailer to take advantage of.”
Adriane McDermott, Founder and CEO, Tanica

Tanya Mah, Head of Marketing at Amber Beverage Australia, whose portfolio includes Antica, Italicus and Pampelle, said: “The aperitif occasion is perfect for our climate and our cultural norms. The whole idea of the aperitif is ultimately to open the palate for a meal, but it’s a real social occasion.

“It’s about getting together, and it totally makes sense in Europe where this culture is embedded. The modern adaption in Australia has the same principles, but we don’t necessarily call it an aperitif.”

She says the opportunity for retailers is to help consumers to define their own interpretations of the aperitivo moment and encourage category exploration.

“Australians don’t always understand the word aperitif, so it’s really about creating sociability and connection. It’s about the same emotions and the same connection that is traditionally enjoyed in European settings but making it culturally relevant to Australians.”

Similarly, Vanderfield-Kramer agrees that future category growth hinges on the consumers understanding of the role and versatility of aperitif spirits.

“Educating consumers about the history, production methods and serving suggestions can enhance their appreciation and enjoyment.

“Opportunities lie in exploring new flavour profiles and sustainable practices to appeal to a broader audience and meet the demand for ethical consumption,” he added.

44 | National Liquor News Aperitifs

Retailer’s roadmap

While the aperitivo drinking occasion might be catching on in Australia, its instore placement is sometimes questionable. Looking at the category through the lens of a shopper, Mah says it can be difficult to navigate.

“[Aperitif spirits] often get dumped with liqueurs, and no- and low-alcohol on occasion. It’s often seen as the ‘other’ section of the store and it’s a weird mix of brands that don’t make sense from an occasion perspective, needs state perspective, or category perspective.”

Stronger categorisation is a crucial step in maximising visibility and driving sales, but Mah says there is no cookie-cutter approach.

“I would look at starting to merchandise by either needs state, occasion, or by grouping brands together. This really comes down to knowing your consumer and understanding how they’re shopping and what they’re looking for.”

Drawing on her previous experience leading spirits category development and shopper insights at Diageo, McDermott says improved navigation and accessibility will encourage cross-category sales and second bottle purchases.

“As a retailer, you really want to be providing people with total drink solutions or total cocktail solutions, not just single purchases.

“The good thing about the aperitif category is that it’s a very good second, or even third bottle purchase for a retailer to take advantage of.

“Signposting is a very common thing to help people navigate around fixtures, but shelf placement and menu placement has got to be leading people to explore this category in a way that’s not just about the traditional European-style bitter,” she said.

“When Regal Rogue debuted in 2011, it stood as the sole Australian-made brand in the market. However, today, there are over 35 brands offering 150+ styles, signifying a significant shift towards these types of products.”

Pampelle Paloma

In line with the tequila boom, the Paloma cocktail has enjoyed a recent resurgence, and the addition of ruby red grapefruit aperitif

Pampelle only enhances the bittersweet blend of tequila and grapefruit.


30ml Pampelle

30ml Tequila Blanco

Grapefruit soda


1. Combine all ingredients and stir

2. Pour into a glass with ice and garnish with ruby red grapefruit

May 2024 | 45 Aperitifs

Rhubarb Negroni

The simplicity of aperitivo cocktails makes them easy to recreate at home, and the Rhubarb Negroni is a go-to serve for the winter months. Recreated by switching Rhubi as a substitute for any of the three ingredients in a classic Negroni, Philips-Johansson’s favourite interpretation features Australian gin and nuanced bitter vermouth.


25ml Four Pillars Gin

25ml Rhubi Mistelle

25ml Red vermouth


1. Add all ingredients to a carafe or mixing glass with ice and stir

2. Add fresh ice to a tumbler and strain cocktail over the ice

3. Garnish with an orange wedge

Winter positioning

As the aperitivo ritual embeds itself in Australian culture, it is imperative that consumers are educated about the evolving year-round consumption of aperitifs, according to Paolo Marinoni, Marketing Director for Campari Australia.

“Enjoying an aperitivo with food and friends has grown, no longer bound to certain seasons, whether it’s during sunset on a balmy afternoon or having a cosy cocktail indoors in winter, classic cocktails such as an Aperol Spritz or Negroni are always on the menu,” he says.

“Retailers can drive awareness among their consumers that aperitifs are not a seasonal category, but more occasion-based.”

Aperitifs and aperitif cocktails such as the Spritz are traditionally associated with warmer weather, but the diverse range of flavours provides retailers with the tools to cater to consumers through a change in seasons.

Winter provides an opportunity to showcase seasonal flavours and ingredients while highlighting the versatility of aperitifs. For Philips-Johansson, the colder months often see consumers lean into warming spices and winter fruits.

“Winter is all about winter citrus, poached fruits and earthy, richer flavours like rhubarb. We tend to move away from the classic effervescent Spritzes to instead experiment with stirred cocktails,” she says.

“The slightly bitter tasting profile, the ease of use in at-home cocktail making and the lower sugar content all make great propositions for retailers to promote these products in-store over the winter period.” ■

“While it’s winter in Australia, we are seeing the beauty of a European summer across our social media channels, so it’s only natural that Aussies want to replicate it at home.”
Photo credit: Photographer Sabine Schwarz Paolo Marinoni, Marketing Director for Campari Australia
46 | National Liquor News Aperitifs national-liquor-news/subscribe/ For the latest liquor retail news, subscribe to the National Liquor News e-newsletter Liquor news straight to your inbox


Dale DeGroff celebrates joie de vivre with Grey Goose

Widely acknowledged as the ‘King of Cocktails’ Dale DeGroff touched down in Australia for the launch of Melbourne’s Le Martini Bar, and to celebrate the joie de vivre with Grey Goose in Sydney.

DeGroff and much of Sydney’s hospitality trade were welcomed by Grey Goose Brand Ambassador Corina Retter, before the iconic bartender took to the stage to showcase another set of skills by belting out some jazz songs, which DeGroff had carefully chosen to celebrate key moments in his life.

As well DeGroff’s singing attendees were also able to enjoy a range of drinks including the Grey Goose Classic, Espresso Martini, Le Grand Fizz being poured, alongside a Martinez special the Little Ray of Sunshine combining GREY GOOSE Original, Passionfruit, Ylang Ylang, DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters and Fever-Tree Ginger Ale. The night also had a Martini masterclass by DeGroff, where he talked about the history of this classic cocktail, highlighting crucial times in the development of the Martini, including when Italian Vermouth was first used, way back in 1888.

Maybe Sammy leans into hotel influence with new menu, The Grand Maybe Sammy Hotel

Once a year, iconic Sydney cocktail bar Maybe Sammy unveils a new collection of signature cocktails, and just last month the venue released its latest menu, The Grand Maybe Sammy Hotel, celebrated with a launch event on Wednesday 3 April.

The venue and its aesthetic have long been influenced by the concept of a high-end hotel bar and the new cocktail menu leans into these elements. Unfolding on a monopoly-style board, the new menu is segmented into four themes; Lobby, Dining Room, Bedroom and Spa.

Each of the Maybe Sammy bartenders have contributed at least one cocktail to the new menu, which Maybe Sammy Co-Founder Stefano Catino believes is the most playful menu yet.

“We only release one new menu a year, so we want the new collection of cocktails to be technically better and even more playful than the last and The Grand Maybe Sammy Hotel is spectacular. This menu has glamour and innovation, and it will be a lot of fun for our bartenders to present and guests to enjoy,” he said.

The full cocktail menu showcase a broad range of spirits and flavour profiles, featuring signature serves such as the Airport Chauffer, Poolside, Aromatherapy and Buffet, while also encompassing lower ABV options such as Check-In.

Tanica celebrates launch of reformulated spirit

On Wednesday 10 April, Tanica held a celebration at the Butler in Potts Point, where the new iteration of the spirit was launched and sampled by key industry members for the first time. After two years of learnings, Tanica is re-entering the market with a revitalised identity, updated formulation and fresh Australian flair.

The launch event invited attendees to meet the team behind Tanica and explore how they infuse native flavours and the essence of the Australian lifestyle into the aperitif experience. The versatility of the spirit was showcased in Spritzes and Negronis.

Joining Tanica Founder Adriane McDermott was Ava Carvallo, Portfolio Director, and Jayne Travis, Head of Creative Services, both from Distill Ventures which is the UK-based drinks accelerator program supporting Tanica’s journey. Jenna Hemsworth, awardwinning bartender and Tanica Brand Ambassador, and Shaun Byrne, Head Distiller of Tanica, also joined guests.

The latest
48 | National Liquor News
Tanica Founder Adriane McDermott and Head Distiller Shaun Byrne

Starward Whisky’s new distillery and bar

Starward Whisky officially launched its revamped Distillery and Bar on 10 April, with a big focus on sense of place, experience and making accessible whisky that doesn’t deter new entrants to the category.

The new offer includes a first-time food menu headed up by new head chef Drew Traynor (ex Eau de Vie) to complement the Starward Whisky portfolio, as well as a variety of experiences that whisky newcomers and aficionados alike can enjoy on the premises.

A large component of Starward’s hospitality is to offer a variety of experiences that will help visitors immerse themselves in the art of whisky-making.

In an exciting first for Victoria, Starward offers a ‘Fill Your Own Bottle’ experience at the distillery, allowing visitors to get a first-hand experience of bottling their own whisky, straight from a barrel of their choosing. You can then customise the label before the bottle is presented in a takehome gift box.

Guests can also take a step into Starward’s working distillery to see how their whisky is made, in their Distillery Tour and Tasting. There is also a Whisky Masterclass and Barrel Tasting experience on offer.

“Regardless of where you sit on the whisky-loving scale, our expert team can guide you on a memorable, tailored whisky experience,” stated Starward’s hospitality and experiential manager, Patty Karakostas.

Stone Brew Day returns to Byron Bay

On Thursday 18 April, Stone & Wood held its annual Stone Brew Day at its Byron Bay brewery, a ritual that honours ancient brewing traditions with Stone & Wood’s local community.

Since 2008, when founder Brad Rogers brought some special rocks back from Fiji, the tradition has been held dear to the brewery. Together, the community crafted the Stone Beer, a woodfired porter and limited winter release that will be poured later this year at the Festival of the Stone.

Stones were heated on a fire until glowing, and carefully lowered by the brewers into the kettle, rousing the boil and a big cloud of steam, adding a unique twist to the brew.

Caolan Vaughan, Stone & Wood Head Brewer, said: “On this day, we pay homage to tradition and the way things used to be done long ago, before electricity or any of our modern luxuries. Each year, we change recipe and select only the best ingredients we possibly can.”

White Bay Brewery hosts beer industry drinks

The beer industry (or at least the Sydney-based contingent) came together last month for a much-needed catch up over pizza and beers, thanks to White Bay Brewery’s Liam Pereira, and the teams at Bintani, Fermentis, and Konvoy.

It was a great opportunity to network with like-minded professionals from the beer industry in a casual and laid-back setting and discuss the state of the nation, while enjoying some delightful White Bay beers.

Deb Jackson and James Atkinson
May 2024 | 49
Caoimhe Hanrahan-Lawrence, Jamie Webb-Smith, and Deb Jackson

Variations in value

Circana explores the battle for value supremacy.

The way people interact with retail brands continues to evolve. In 2023, we saw successful brands and retailers transition to a new age of customer experience amid soaring inflation, interest rates and the fastrising cost-of-living. The value of ‘value’ is still ever present for Australians, now in the face of disinflation as our economy keeps growing albeit at a slower pace.

What does value mean?

Value means more than just low price to all consumers who seek quality. When adopting a value mindset, our research reveals that all Australians prioritise ‘quality of products that are consistently good’. It’s a reminder that just talking about price is a risk, particularly with shoppers trading down. This also signals a warning about moving too much to ‘everyday low pricing’ strategies because right now, access to promotions and special offers is rated as more important than price consistency. For retailers and brands, 2024 will bring an imperative to take a more granular view to unlock category and brand specific drivers of what represents good value – detail readily available through Circana’s Shopper Survey and Segmentation products.



Value is found at the opposite end of the

spectrum in ‘funflation’ spending, a term used to explain some surprises in consumer spending, especially the post-pandemic boom in expensive experiences like live entertainment and realising pent-up travel cravings. However, we take a broader view of the term and caution to not underestimate the extent of the pandemic hangover and its role in Australians seeking ‘joyful distraction’ and escapism. For example, retail enjoyed a strong September based on higher spend during better weather and the launch of a new iPhone. In other words, Australians are still making the most of it; which begs the question, ‘what is considered discretionary and what isn’t?’.

Winning value supremacy

The battle for value supremacy is the preeminent issue for the retail industry in 2024. Winners will communicate ‘value’ simply and saliently, but what does ‘good value’ mean to Australian shoppers? There are different ways that we perceive good value and understanding these nuances is critical. For example, Circana panellists rated the importance of good value relative to other factors in their choice of supermarket and found that monetary factors are more important for younger ages. However, the gap in sentiment for promotions, specials, and loyalty card rewards between the under

40s and over 65s was most acute with younger Australians much more reliant on both. For older shoppers, quality themes like ‘Australian-made’ and produce freshness rise in importance.

What’s your strategy?

Disruption will continue in 2024, and in Australia’s ever-more value-based economy, it is critical to be nimble, agile and ready to connect with and continue to support shoppers. Trial AI and other new tech, be social with little luxuries that could influence new innovations, and always place loyalty and consumer need at the heart of everything you do. Australians continue to be in the driver’s seat, and you need to meet them where they are in the moment with what matters to them – no matter how small. Because from little things, big things grow.

This is an excerpt from the full report by Circana ‘From Little Things, Big Thing Grow’. You can access a full copy by scanning the QR code. ■

Circana 50 | National Liquor News

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