Hellyers Road won two awards at the 2022 Tasmanian Export Awards, including Small Business of the Year and Tasmanian Exporter of the Year.

The awards were held on 30 September in Hobart, and were hosted by Madeliene Ogilvie MP on behalf of the state premier, Jeremy Rockliff MP.

It’s the third time that the distillery has won Small Business of the Year, and the second time winning Tasmanian Exporter of the Year, having first picked up the award in 2017.

The Shout spoke to Hellyers Road Channel and Brand Development Manager, Kit Wilkinson, to hear what the wins mean for the distillery.

“Being awarded Best Small Business is acknowledgement of all the effort our team does on a day-to-day basis across all our markets that helps our brand grow internationally,” Wilkinson said.

“It is also a celebration of how we have continued to highlight the individuality and significance of our region and state on the world map.”

Moreover, Wilkinson said that being awarded Best Overall Tasmanian Exporter “is both humbling and reassuring.”

“It is also fantastic recognition of the work we have done as a business as we transitioned out of arguably one of the most challenging trade climates of recent years,” Wilkinson continued.

“The impact of Covid meant we had to continually reassess our market strategies, deepen our existing supplier and trade partner relationships as well as develop new ways of bringing our products to different markets – and all having to remain true to our sense of place and product.”

Wilkinson was quick to commend the general strength of the Tasmanian export economy.

“[It’s] an incredible sense of achievement bearing in mind we share a doorstep with so many other high quality spirits producers and in particular, businesses that have considerable history operating in the export market,” Wilkinson commented.

“We are fortunate in that we are all part of the same Tasmania team all putting our best foot forward with products that speak of their locality and the calibre of people that make them.”

Wilkinson explained that it has not been an easy time for the distillery over the last couple of years.

“Over the last few years, the business has seen a significant change in senior management from retirements (including our head distiller leaving after 20 years), new General Managers and business strategies, to new teams through to distillation and process changes.

“We have embarked on a significant safety procedure overhauls to our entire business to bring best in class ISO standards for our staff and operations, to seeing the loss of having the biggest selling Australian premium single malt in your portfolio sell out for 12 months,” Wilkinson outlined.  

“All factors that usher in immense challenges from cashflow, market gaps, operational downtime to managing the variety of consumer related impacts.”

Nevertheless, the brand manager said that this has allowed Hellyers Road to a moment to reflect on its position and past – and that this points to a bright future.

“We have embarked on a rebrand that revisit our business’s history – which in itself has offered a wonderful insight into our people and culture,” Wilkinson said.

“A valued learning which we may not otherwise have had. We have had a long history of winning top awards for our whiskies so the question remains – will we continue to with our longest serving distiller retiring? With our wide ranging investment into our people, production and craft – we overwhelmingly believe so.”

“Our business mantra is ‘journey into the unknown’ – a mantra that invites challenge, endeavour and resolve and is the basis of our culture,” Wilkinson concluded.

Having won Tasmania’s Small Business of the Year Award, the distillery will now go on to represent the Apple Isle at the Australian Export Awards (the national awards) later this year.

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