In the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Top Shelf International discussed the performance and momentum of its Australian spirits brands.

For Co-founder and Managing Director of Top Shelf International (TSI), Drew Fairchild, the new year is going to be an exciting one, especially in one particular category.

“As well as continuing to win new distribution and build our existing in-market brands, 2023 will be the year of Australian agave!” Fairchild said.

“By every measure, the agave spirit category is exploding and shows no sign of slowing over the next decade. Australia is already the third highest consumer of agave spirits in the world per capita, so I think there will be a real curiosity and appetite from the local market at launch and we can’t wait to share our story with them.”

This story is the one behind the Act of Treason brand, the highly anticipated result of TSI’s Australian agave project, which is primed to take advantage of the unique opportunity behind the emerging segment.

“We’d like to think that by the end of 2023, Act of Treason is starting to lead the way in educating local consumers on the possibilities of Australian agave,” Fairchild said.

“We are by no means claiming to be the only Australian agave distillers in the country, but the investment we have made at our farm on the Whitsundays Coast gives TSI the chance to lead the creation of a new category of spirits.”

Australian spirits capturing customers

While the early signs for Act of Treason have been positive, Fairchild says TSI is also extremely delighted by the performance of its established brands over the past year.

“We could not be more pleased with the progress of our Australian premium spirits portfolio. Both NED Whisky and Grainshaker Vodka are now being scaled nationally via Coles, in the independent network through Australian Liquor Marketers, and across an increasingly broad footprint of festivals, events and on-premise accounts,” Fairchild explained.

“They are taking share in highly competitive categories and earning recognition for their product quality, being named the Australian whisky and vodka brands of the year at the 2022 Melbourne International Spirits Competition.”

For Fairchild, this success is partly due to the growing taste among Aussies for homegrown spirits, and will form a strong basis for international expansion in 2023.

“Now more than ever, consumers are choosing to drink locally-owned and produced spirits. Australian spirits brands are renowned around the world for their quality and the time is right to establish locally crafted spirits as a highly valuable contributor to our agricultural, tourism and exports industries,” he said.

“With Australian spirits also enjoying success in new and emerging markets thanks to an appetite for challenger spirits in key categories, we look forward to scaling our brands internationally over the coming 12 months as well as bringing Act of Treason to market.”

This is essentially the core mission of TSI, which Fairchild describes as a having a goal to “deliver a world-class premium spirits portfolio that has the ability to be scaled domestically and internationally in order to compete with the very best in the world.”

“We’re setting out to create a modern Australian spirits company with a portfolio of premium spirit brands that bottle up the best of the Aussie spirit. All of our brands are positioned in high growth spirits categories and celebrate Aussie ingenuity and character.

“Without getting ahead of ourselves, we believe our Australian spirits platform has the potential and credentials to be global success.”

Find more from the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum here.

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