By Deborah Jackson, editor National Liquor News

Sydney-based independent liquor retailer, The Oak Barrel was named the Liquor Store of the Year at this year’s Australian Liquor Industry Awards (ALIA), with manager Ian Chainey crediting his team for the store’s success.

On accepting the award, Chainey told the nearly 600 attendees: “Thank you – it is good to be appreciated. The Oak Barrel has been there since 1956 so I hope we have done previous owners justice. We wouldn’t be there but for a very forgiving owner, Paul Downey, and obviously my crew – they do it, I claim it, you know how it works. Independent. Thank you very much.”

And it is through the strength of that small team of five staff members that The Oak Barrel has built up a reputation as being a specialist across all categories; beer, wine and spirits.

“When I first started here I was actually ordering everything,” Chainey told National Liquor News. “But we’ve become such specialists that I just cannot do it all myself, it’s a full time job in each area. We’ve got three full timers who are each specialists in their fields. We have a wine specialist, a whiskey specialist and a craft beer specialist. You just need that amount of attention to detail to be on top of everything.”

Within The Oak Barrel, shelves are stacked with the interesting and unusual. And according to Chainey, the growing interest in craft beer, natural wine and whiskey has given strength to the independent liquor trade.

“We can’t compete with Dan Murphy’s on the big brands, so we’ll let them deal with those. But anything that is a smaller production that they can’t get in, that’s where it’s happening. And if you look at it from another perspective, it’s all about small businesses supporting small businesses.”

He continued: “From a punters' point of view, they want someone who has got a genuine story, not someone who has just spent $2 million on a marketing campaign story. People are seeing through that and they’re tired of it, they want a genuine story and want to know what they’re putting into their mouths.”

For more from Ian Chainey and The Oak Barrel see the November issue of National Liquor News.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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1 Comment

  1. Great to see someone get the accolades they deserve, independents cant take on the big boys on a level playing field! So it is good to see someone do what independents are renowned for, go the extra yards for the customer and support the little guy.
    Congrates to Ian and his crew.

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