Last year was difficult for established Australian liquor brands, but for new entrants into the market, it was even more unpredictable.
New local spirit label, Feels Botanical, is one such business that navigated these waters while preparing to officially launch in early 2021. It debuts with four varieties, each with an Australian grape Eau De Vie base, distilled with a unique combination of natural and sustainably sourced botanicals.
And despite the unprecedented challenges of 2020, Co-creator Blake Vanderfield-Kramer said there have still been some highlights in 2020, largely driven by the product itself.
“The positive response that we have received from both consumers and trade during tastings of the range is our main highlight,” Vanderfield-Kramer said.
“Feels Botanical was created over lunch between [Co-creator] Steve Pillemer and I. We realised we were both at a pivotal point in our lives. We decided to create something real, something that lived and ‘breathed’ life back into our day-to-day. Something that would make us feel and inspire the natural creativity and connection we had lost.
“We wanted to create a unique flavour profile that was both approachable and identifiable, while still delivering complexity, uniqueness and discovery. We worked really hard on the development of the shape of flavour and mouthfeel to be consistent across all products in the range, while still working in harmony with the unique botanical combination in each product, and this was a key reason we selected Eau De Vie as our base spirit.”
These goals were certainly realised, with Feels finding multiple points of difference to other spirits on the market. The four products pay homage to the ancient apothecary tradition of utilising botanical combinations and alcohol to deliver a unique sensorial and flavour profile.
There’s BASK 43 per cent ABV, with Hemp, Quandong and Kakadu Plum; VIVIFY 43 per cent ABV, with Turmeric, Coconut and Ginger; ROUSE 33 per cent ABV, with Rose, Horny Goat Weed and Davidson Plum; and REVEL 33 per cent ABV, with Ginseng, Coffee and Illawarra Plum.
“Feels is an emotive and sensorial brand. From the shape of flavour, the label texture and the botanicals we have used, to the creative interpretations and executions of our brand.” Vanderfield-Kramer explained.
With the positive feedback so far, 2021 will be another big one as the brand builds into the market. Vanderfield-Kramer said: “We will be focusing on building the brand with the right partners in the right way.
“We are also extremely lucky to be working with some renowned creative partners and venues, and we are really looking forward to bringing the brand to life in 2021 through a number of campaigns and collaborations.”
Building a new segment
Eau De Vie based spirits like Feels don’t find themselves in a crowded category. Not yet anyway, according to Vanderfield-Kramer.
“We believe that there is still tremendous growth opportunity for the alcohol segment and within the spirits segment a huge opportunity for light spirit alternatives and the rum revolution, while driving value for the segment from high quality, transparent and authentic brands and products,” he said.
This article originally appeared in the 2021 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum. Read more stories in this edition here.