In the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Feels Botanical looks into its biggest opportunities and challenges this year.
There was a lot of positivity in 2022 for Australian eau de vie label Feels Botanical, in just the second year of the brand’s operation. Co-founder, Blake Vanderfield-Kramer, said despite having launched during the uncertainty of the pandemic, the brand has been able to
create a solid foundation.
“In 2022, while the COVID-19 impacts were not gone, we were able to build on our small but consistent and loyal customer base, we partnered with the Swift and Moore Beverage Company in August as our Australian sales and distribution partner, we won numerous awards both domestic and internationally, and we announced Dan Churchill’s role within the business as our Culinary Creative & Ambassador,” Vanderfield-Kramer said.
For 2023, Feels will be focused on further growing both the brand and its category as well. Feels Botanical’s range of eau de vie shows the potential of the category, through products such as Bask (with hemp, quandong and Kakadu plum), Vivify (with turmeric, coconut and ginger), Rouse (with rose, horny goat weed and Davidson plum) and Revel (with Ginseng, coffee and Illawarra plum).
“Fundamentally, the focus for this year is awareness and trial – finding ways to bring consumers (and trade) into the eau de vie category and Feels brand, while supporting the continual changing hospitality landscape,” said Vanderfield-Kramer.
“We have had a great response to the brand, but even more impressive has been the response to the liquid’s versatility and balance, with a great point of difference to anything else on the market.”
An opportunity and a challenge
Over the next 12 months, Vanderfield-Kramer believes the biggest opportunity for Feels Botanical will also be its biggest challenge – building a leading brand in a relatively undeveloped category.
“The eau de vie category still has a long way to go, but there are a lot of positive signs,” he said.
“The product delivers against consumer trends and desires for versatility, sustainability, provenance, and quality. There are also several other business and brands starting to playing in the space, which is a positive for both trade and consumer awareness.”
While awareness is on the rise, there are still some areas of the category that would benefit from education.
As Vanderfield-Kramer explained: “Australian eau de vie grape spirit (un-aged brandy) is Australian grapes fermented and turned into table wine, which is then distilled into a spirit. Don’t be confused with grappa, which is distilled from the pomace from winemaking.
“There is also confusion around the difference between neutral grape spirits and eau de vie grape spirit, how they are produced and the difference in flavour and mouthfeel. Again, the difference is the base product and process to create each style – just think, Australian eau de vie grape spirit is unaged brandy, or think Feels Botanical.”
The final educational element that Vanderfield-Kramer is keen to showcase is the versatility of eau de vie, particularly with the Feels range.
“Our liquid can be enjoyed straight, over ice, with a mixer or in a cocktail. This is from the velvety, creamy mouthfeel the eau de vie delivers but also our process of maceration and distillation of our unique botanicals into the spirits,” said Vanderfield-Kramer.
“These botanicals add beautiful aromas and flavour characteristics that work in harmony with the eau de vie profile and helps deliver versatility of drink consumption and drink styles.”