Reflecting on the highs and lows of 2023, Blake Vanderfield-Kramer, Co-Founder of Feels Botanical, says that despite some challenges it was a rewarding year for the Australian brand.

“Despite ongoing industry impacts from Covid-19, cost-of-living pressures, international conflicts, and global economic and supply challenges, there were a lot of positives.

“Highlights include winning numerous international awards, working with Intrepid Spirits for international markets, continuing our partnerships with some exceptional Australian on- and off-premise customers, and the notable addition of John Gakuruin the business.”

With four spirits each drawing on unique flavours, Vanderfield-Kramer says there is great opportunity for growth in the off-premise.

“All our range can be enjoyed simply over ice, or soda water can be elevated with Feels. The three botanicals and the grape spirit adds enough to give you a fresh, flavourful and enjoyable drink. Feels Vilify, distilled with turmeric, coconut and ginger has been a standout. However, our other products – Feels Bask, Rouse and Revel – also play significant roles, each catering to specific consumer drinking preferences.”

Although there were positives, Vanderfield-Kramer spoke about Feels’ biggest obstacle in 2023.

“Our biggest challenge was building our distribution and the staffing shortages across the industry from Covid certainly impacted us. But we just need to continue with patience and understanding, recognising the extended time required for implementation and striving to be as supportive a partner as possible.”

Community and collaboration

Looking ahead, Vanderfield-Kramer told National Liquor News about Feels’ new distribution partnership with Cape Byron Distillery, and how it came to be.

“I’ve known Eddie Brook, Co-Founder and CEO of Cape Byron, for years. Our partnership stemmed from ongoing discussions about our businesses and the opportunity to collaborate with Feels Botanical and Regal Rogue, offering an exceptional all-Australian portfolio to customers and consumers.

“Both businesses and the brands have a shared vision across sustainability and innovation in the spirits industry, making this a natural alignment,” he added.

“Cape Byron’s expertise in building their core brand, Brookies Gin, through a focus on product quality, customer relationships and exceptional consumer experiences is invaluable. Their strong trade relationships and effective brand building strategies align perfectly with our need for an Australian sales and distribution partner who understands our product positioning.”

Vanderfield-Kramer sees the collaboration as a positive move for not just the brands, but their customers and consumers.

“A significant opportunity lies in supporting Cape Byron’s team to expand all the brands’ presence in the market, while offering a unique, versatile, high-quality, all-Australian product portfolio. Our immediate focus is to support Cape Byron’s team in effectively marketing and distributing our products in whatever way we can.

“The synergy between our brands – Brookies, Regal Rogue, and Feels – is exciting, offering retailers the opportunity to create unique Australian-themed bundles for consumers.

“We advocate for collaboration and innovation,” he added. “We encourage retailers to adapt to evolving consumer trends towards sustainable and unique beverage choices, and we’re committed to supporting them in this journey. Supporting local businesses, quality products, innovation and versatility in the spirits industry.”

This article originally appeared in the 2024 Leaders Forum issue of National Liquor News.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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