Australia’s burgeoning craft spirits sector must break open new distribution channels if it is to take market share from the multinational distillers, says Nip of Courage founder Kathleen Davies.

Davies told the Drinks Adventures podcast that there are now more than 180 craft distilleries spread across Australia, up from 40 when she began her craft spirits distribution business in 2013.

“And there’s a lot more wholesale producer liquor licenses waiting to be approved as well, with more distilleries trying to open and get council approval,” she said.

However, Davies said Australian-owned, Australian-made spirits still account for less than one per cent by volume of the distilled spirits sector.

“The rest of what we drink here in Australia is actually imported or foreign-owned, so I think there’s definitely more market share for Australian producers to gain in the next few years,” she said.

For this to happen, Davies said craft distillers must find additional channels to reach consumers.

“There’s probably about 30 different channels that we can work with, and when I say, ‘channels’, I mean everything from duty free to cruise ships to small bars to retail bottle shops,” she said.

“At the moment, the Australian craft distilleries are all fighting for maybe four or five of those channels where we could be aiming for the whole 30 to grow our market shares.”

Formerly of Carlton & United Breweries, Lion and Coca-Cola Amatil, Davies said it is nevertheless pleasing to see bars and retailers now have a genuine appetite for Australian brands.

“I am finding that people are becoming more focused around supporting distilleries that are closer to them as well, which didn’t happen in the beginning,” she said.

“I started in my hometown, Sydney. I pretty much started pounding the pavement for two months and did not get a single sale.

“I’d turn up at bars and say, ‘I’ve got these products,’ and they’d say, ‘what brands are they?’

“They’d turn around and say, ‘never heard of them before,’ and pretty much, ‘bugger off.'”

Season Two of Drinks Adventures continues on Thursday June 5, with Beefeater’s veteran master distiller Desmond Payne MBE joining James Atkinson for a wide-ranging chat about the gin category.

Drinks Adventures is currently at #3 on the Australian iTunes food podcasts chart, having topped the chart for several weeks during May 2019.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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