It was an excellent year for Regal Rogue, setting its sights on global expansion as awareness and demand for vermouth reached new heights. Although it wasn’t without its challenges, Regal Rogue Founder Mark Ward looks back fondly on the year’s achievements.

“We’ve opened a few new European markets with Japan towards the end, which is a new focus market,” he said. “The key highlight was seeing our broader global team and production find further synergies as we look to 2024 as a key growth year.

“The ongoing rise in popularity of vermouth, aperitifs and lower ABV continued to support our proposition with more consumer and trade demand for organic, low sugar, vegan and gluten-free, with our five litre BIB sustainable format showing fantastic results.”

Due to its use of Australian botanicals and organic wine, one of the challenges faced by Regal Rogue is the long-term forecasts versus the wine harvest, but this is not a new learning and constant task to monitor.

“We work to the Australian wine harvest with our blending,” says Ward. “Continuing to monitor depletions over forecast growth for the 15-24 months ahead has been an ongoing task, but we’re seeing all markets settle back down with more space since Covid, and every channel springing into action with zest.”

New horizons

As Australian vermouth establishes itself in the global market, Ward says international expansion is a priority for the year ahead, fuelled by experimentation.

“Our biggest opportunities lie in Australia, the UK and Spain for the business and growth of our sustainable formats on- and off-premise, seeding our RTDs (hint hint) and seeing what all of this presents for new innovations around our core range in the form of collaborations (another hint) for any Australian brands out there.

“We firmly believe that 2024 will be our best year yet, and we are truly ready for it across every department and team member.”

While the brand will look to new innovations, continuation of its core range is a key growth driver.

“The Bold Red and Wild Rosé are always the [star performers] in our range, and this doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon in all markets.

“The key for any craft brand is not to overinvest unless it’s a growth driver, be nimble and listen to every customer, consumer and feedback from every market, to see if there’s a gem in there that we haven’t seen yet.”

Australia’s appetite for vermouth

In recent years, vermouth producers have successfully raised the profile of the category among customers and consumers.

“When we started in 2011, we were the only Australian brand in the market,” says Ward. “To think that there are now over 35 brands with up to 120 varietals is a clear indicator of where it’s got to and where it’s going, and there are some great brands in the Australian offering.

“It’s a dream to see that kind of traction in a niche category and with that kind of offering it helps all of us to continue to change the perception and popularity of drinking vermouth as an aperitif over ice or long with a mixer.”

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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