In the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Vanguard Luxury Brands reveals what we can expect from the company in 2023.

Vanguard Luxury Brands is heading into 2023 on a high, following a stellar year with significant growth, new talent joining the team, and the title of On-Premise Supplier of the Year at the Australian Liquor Industry Awards 2022.

General Manager, Danny Connolly, says that this year will be no different, with some exciting new product launches on the horizon, and big plans to keep this momentum going.

He said: “2023 is a big year for us again in terms of innovation and new brands, and we need to take the learnings from last year to ensure we launch in the most disciplined ways.

“We have a few big product launches this year, so expect to see a lot around Fuji Japanese Whisky. We will be launching multiple expressions over 2023, and pleasingly, we have access to plenty of Japanese whisky.

“Later in the year we have a big product launch that we are extremely confident will be a huge success and disrupt a category, but I’ll keep my lips sealed on that one for now.”

In 2022, the launch of Four Pillars’ RTDs was the most successful innovation for Vanguard Luxury Brands, with Connolly crediting the team at Four Pillars for always taking “the art of craft to the next level”.

“We love when our teams come together on innovation – we’re confident Cameron Mackenzie at the distillery has put his heart and soul into making the best tasting liquid, coupled with a world class brand experience. NPD out of Healesville will continue to shine in 2023,” he says.

While Four Pillars was a huge growth driver for Vanguard Luxury Brands over the past 12 months, the agave category has also continued to go from strength to strength with continual growth across the portfolio, lead by Batanga and Fortaleza. The group has also seen some amazing growth from its Australian craft portfolio, with standouts being The Gospel and Morris whiskies.

When it comes to opportunities for the year ahead, Connolly says the spirits industry has the means to be a shining light in terms of leading in sustainability, inclusion, and diversity.

“We have such a great platform to lead the way in this space. Four Pillars becoming the first fully carbon neutral distillery in Australia and then being recognised globally by the IWSC for the very first Green Spirits Initiative was a huge accolade. We have many brands really focusing on this area, from Flor de Caña and the sustainable cocktail challenge, and Ilegal Mezcal with fully recycled glass,” Connolly said.

“We also need to recognise the importance of maintaining focus on inclusion and diversity, the spirits industry can really be the shining light in this space. We take pride in having a gender balanced team at Vanguard, with team members with wide and varying experiences.

“Then there is the Australian distilling industry – how do we all come together to put Australian spirits on the world map?

“We all need to be fiercely passionate about advocating for our industry.”

Consumer curiosity around spirits

Connolly said Vanguard Luxury Brands has seen consumer trends remain fairly consistent recently, with people still choosing to drink less but drink better.

Convenience is a big factor for consumers, which is why RTDs are continuing to grow at double digit growth rates.

“People are genuinely more curious about spirits; premium and crafted spirits can be daunting for consumers, and this is why the on-premise channel is so critically important. Our hospitality friends, they are educators of consumers, they are the leaders of cocktail culture, and they continue to be the shining light in a great new drinks culture,” says Connolly.

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

Article written by Deb Jackson.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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