Australian Distillers President: Cocktails help to drive Australian spirits

The 2023 Australian Distillers (AD) annual conference is taking place over three days in Melbourne. After masterclasses and trade show on Sunday, Monday saw AD President Holly Klintworth highlight the role of cocktails, and the AD’s partnership with Spirits & Cocktails Australia, in her welcoming address.

The ‘Safe. Smart. Sustainable’ focus points for this year’s conference reflect key areas the association wants to focus on for its members and to help the longevity of the industry as a whole.

Holly welcomed a record number of delegates to the conference on Monday morning, saying: “It sure is wonderful to see everyone here, together again in Melbourne. We are part of one of the friendliest, most cohesive industries in Australia, our industries stands on the shoulders of great collaborators and I encourage all of us to follow in their footsteps to ensure we can continue to learn and grow together.

“The theme of this year’s conference is safe, smart and sustainable. When I reflect on what that means to our industry I am reminded that it was only last year we celebrated 30 years of Australian craft whisky and 30 years since Bill Lark lobbied his local MP to allow the production of craft spirits in Australia, after a long hiatus. This pivotal moment sparked the national craft spirits movement that we are all proud to be a part of today.”

Holly emphasised the role that cocktails are playing in the growth and momentum of Australian spirits.

“There is strong consumer demand for cocktails and pre-mixed spirits and the underlying trend of increased premiumisation in the medium-term is still projected to be strong. And on top of this export is a dream many of us are yet to fully realise. So the opportunity for growth both locally and internationally is real.”

Holly also told delegates Australian Distillers was happy with the partnership it has formed with Spirits & Cocktails Australia, but called for more support from legislators to help both spirits, and the hospitality industry.

“We need greater support from Governments, to support our ambition to be a domestic manufacturing powerhouse, that adds value to hospitality, tourism, trade and agriculture and continues to create jobs and spirits that consumers love,” Holly said.

“That’s why we are calling on the Federal Government to establish a Parliamentary inquiry into the Australian spirits industry to assess where the industry is now, unpack the challenges, including excise and barriers to entry, to better understand the opportunities for growth.”

Holly added: “As a burgeoning industry, it is important that we continue to grow in a safe, smart and sustainable way.

“I am optimistic about the future of our industry, while we have over 400 producers, our volume output is small. Let’s not forget that total craft spirits consumed in Australia accounts for roughly five per cent of total spirits consumed across the country. There is still so much room for growth. And even with Covid disruptions, analysts project the Australian spirits industry’s growth over the next five years will exceed the growth experienced over the last five years,” Holly concluded.

Sibling title The Shout has further reporting from the conference – see the opening picture gallery here.

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