Renowned alcohol industry expert and adviser, Tony Stubley, is backing Australian eau de vie brand, Feels Botanical, to be a key driver of the next big category in the spirits sector.

Tony is an investor in Feels and is also a mentor to co-founder Blake Vanderfield-Kramer, but with the pair having worked together previously at SouthTrade, their association is much deeper than just how it appears on paper.

“When Blake first told me about it my ‘gut-feel’ was that this will make an impact – a positive one,” Tony says. “I continue to be privy to a lot of research and general information about industry trends from many sources and it all points to Feels being right on point. It is relevant now and will grow even more so.

“I don’t think that there was ever a wrong time to introduce eau de vie to Australian drinkers but nobody has done it with the right offering and energy before. Certainly it is a different alcohol base from traditional grain spirits, but it’s also the way it is sourced, distilled, and then importantly, macerated with the right blend of botanicals that makes Feels so relevant to such a broad range of drinkers.”

Tony adds: “I have known Blake since he was a young man growing up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. He was a very expressive young man, but always had a good sense of what was right and a very positive attitude. I employed him in the early days of SouthTrade largely because of this attitude.

“He was very capable and fortunately became much more sensible as he matured. I’ve tracked his career ever since from Vok beverages in South Australia, to Suntory and Coca Cola Amatil and now see a young man who is going to make a significant mark.”

At present, the focus of the relationship between Feels and Tony remains squarely on establishing the brand and the four key botanical expressions—Bask, Vivify, Rouse & Revel—in the local market. Big in-roads have already been made here. Batch No.1 is close to selling out, and with some impressive independent stockists (Winona Wines, Hotel Palisade, Berts and Raes to name a few) and collaborations with well-known brands (Capi, Regal Rogue & Brookie’s Gin) already under their belts, there will no doubt be more to come from the Feels patch.

The Feels Eau de vie range includes:

  • Feels Botanical BASK, 43 per cent abv, Eau De Vie grape spirit distilled with; Hemp, Quandong and Kakadu Plum,
  • Feels Botanical VIVIFY, 43 per cent abv, Eau De Vie grape spirit distilled with; Turmeric, Coconut and Ginger.
  • Feels Botanical REVEL, 33 per cent abv, Eau De Vie grape spirit distilled with; Coffee, Ginseng and Illawarra plum,
  • Feels Botanical ROUSE, 33 per cent abv, Eau De Vie grape spirit distilled with; Rose, Davidson Plum and Horny Goat Weed.

Speaking about working with Tony, Blake said: “Tony brings a wealth of knowledge from running one of Australia’s most successful independent brand-building businesses within the alcohol industry, as the founder and joint partner at SouthTrade in particular.

He challenges our thinking and brings a different perspective to the table on key business and brand decisions. Our unique work rhythm is to catch up for a surf or we gather round his campfire to informally discuss any points, before following these up in a more formal way later.”

Steve Pillemer is also a part of the Feels team, and Tony said: “I met Steve with our association with ‘Your Shot’, which Blake introduced to some of the SouthTrade brands many years ago. He made a huge impression on me straight away and not surprisingly has developed Your Shot into a major international success.

“He is honest, intelligent and also has a positive make-it-work attitude. The Chemistry between Blake and Steve is excellent and I’m glad to be in the background helping them.”

Feels Botanical is made in partnership with an award-winning B Corp Certified distillery and is free from grains, gluten, preservatives and added sugars. Feels is also a proud member of 1% For The Planet.

To find out more about how Feels can work in your venue, contact

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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