Australian craft spirits distributor has, like many other Australian owner and operated small businesses, been hugely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

While venues are slowly starting to re-open Kathleen Davies and her team have had to completely overhaul how they do things and also work on improving consumer confidence within the Australian market.

“We have learned that we all need to adapt to stay afloat,” Davies said. “It is absolutely necessary to be dynamic and creative during these times.”

She told The Shout: “I’m hoping the good thing that might come out of COVID is that people become more conscious of Australian made-Australian owned. I do feel that our industry does need to jump up and down and tell people that as well.

“I’m just trying to figure out exactly how we can do it and I think the resources in our industry are very limited. Hopefully for the size of company we are, we’ve got a fairly big voice and we’ll always try our best to get that message out there.”

Davies’ team have started an internal project, call Project Grit, which sees them breaking down the industry into different areas to increase trade engagement.

“We are doing everything across the board to help engagement people with these great Australian craft distillers.

“We have things like YouTube tutorials, where you buy a pack in a bottle shop, take it home and the do the tutorial or masterclass with one of our distillers. This is also getting us through the doors of bottle shops that we are not currently in as well.”

Nip of Courage is working on getting a larger presence in Australia’s independent retailers, but also trying to give Australian consumers the confidence to spend their money on Australian products in these difficult economic times.

“The biggest thing for us, since COVID is the spend,” Davies told The Shout. “We are noticing that consumers are reluctant to spend over $100 for a bottle of product, which has really crippled our whiskey producers’ sales.

“So we have gone out an invested in small bottle formats and we are breaking down all the bottles now for our producers to get people to try these rare spirits. The fact is we can’t ask people like Peter Bignell who’s done a paddock-to-bottle full grain oat whisky that is $230 to sell that for under $100.

“So what we have done is broken it down, and making that available through these YouTube masterclasses to get people back into Aussie whisky again.”

The bottle breakdowns are currently in 30ml and 60ml, and Davies says other programs and ideas they are working on are consumer-friendly cocktails, which they are promoting through live online sessions.

Davies said: “While Australia’s slowly waking up, people are still interested in online education, but there is even more opportunity overseas because people are in lockdown for a lot longer.

“We’ve also sat in on a lot of industry virtual events as well and thought about what direction we want to take. For example there are a lot of online whisky classes available right now that are aimed at people who already know a lot about whisky. So we feel there is an opportunity to do some whisky 101 classes, and in July we are doing an Introduction to Rye masterclass. There are a lot of people who want to learn about whisky but don’t want to feel dumb, so we thought there is an opportunity there.”

Nip of Courage has over 80 projects rolling out over the next three months as it looks to help distilleries impacted by bushfires, COVID and travel restrictions. In spite of all these challenges so far thrown up in 2020, Davies remains positive.

“There is so much opportunity and this pandemic has changed the way we do everything, so it’s going to be survival of the fittest and that goes for distributors, distilleries, bars, restaurants, everything. But there is so much potential for Australian spirits.”

Nip of Courage is the first distributor to represent 100 per cent Australian made and owned craft spirits. It is also the first female-owned and run spirits distribution company in Australia. To get involved with Kathleen and the team email

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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