Nip of Courage celebrated its fifth and “busiest” year in 2018, according to Founder Kathleen Davies.
GIN4, a limited edition, “first of its kind”, collaborative gin was created by the “gin producers in our portfolio”, while Nip of Courage was also part of the Emirates Wolgan Valley ‘1832 Gin’ project with Mikey Enright from The Barber Shop and Stone Pine Distillery’s Ian Glen.
“Our last major focus was drawing attention to amazing achievements of women in the distilling industry. Extremely unrepresented, we applauded and encouraged them through our Aussie Tipple gin cocktail packs and masterclass events, featuring them as guest speakers, something we hope to keep emphasising into the new year.”
The last five years have seen a significant change in the craft distilling scene and while the “uptake of locally produced spirits has been a slower process than what craft beer and wine saw”, Davies has witnessed steady growth as more brands appear in Australia. And as far as she’s concerned, growth comes from support.
“We have always supported local, rural distilleries and highlight their craftsmanship, but we are also focused on bringing awareness to the whole industry. We aim to do this in our constantly updated distillery directory list and supporting other brands’ events and through social media channels.”
This year, Davies hopes to expand Nip of Courage’s focus from small bars into new territories and venues, with the ‘hosting at home’ occasion a major target.
“The growth of people hosting at home has been a keen interest of ours, not only for our current stocked portfolio, but also with our bottled cocktail range by the Aussie Tipple Company. We would love to target those who have a growing curiosity about Australian craft, and not only provide the spirits but also ways to enjoy them. This was what spawned the Aussie Tipple idea, we would love to provide for those planning to host at places away from licensed venues but still want quality crafted cocktails.”
The new year also brings its challenges for craft spirits, not least vying for attention in an increasingly crowded market and getting products and distilleries in front of consumers. However, Davies remains positive for the future that the category will grow together, utilising Australia’s unique flora.
“Getting people to physically visit a remote distillery is a massive challenge and in turn the exposure and access to their product can be very low. Without a distributer, moving volumes can be very costly and coupled with slim marketing budgets it can pose as a massive barrier to getting Australian brands into the market.
“However, a key strength for distilleries is that Australia is home to an abundance of quality raw, unique, native botanicals. Another advantage is the growing consumer market for ‘home-grown’ spirits and more venues recognising the fantastic products being produced locally. As the sales channels expand for everyone, so too will the exposure of Australian craft spirits.”
And so, with 2019 already well underway, what steps does Davies think the craft distilling industry should be taking to expand and thrive?
“I feel the Australian craft distilling industry should be striving to gain a larger piece of the overall market, with a particular focus on their social media presence. The world has truly moved into the digital age and having a strong, clear marketing message across social media, regardless of how small of a budget, will be crucial in building brand reputation and exposure.
“Another key factor in driving the industry into mainstream consumption that could be more openly discussed is the overall inter-industry support of Australian-made and owned. Seeing more local spirits being supported in national bottle shops, venues and bars would be fantastic for artisan distilleries in 2019.”
This article was written for the 2019 National Liquor News Annual Industry Leaders Forum published in February.