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40 Under 40 winner of the day: Wesley Heddles

Business

Prohibition Gin co-founder Wesley Heddles started the liquor company on a whim. Four years later, Prohibition Gin is being exported across the globe.

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When Heddles’ step-mum Mary passed away from a rare form of cancer in 2015, he celebrated her life with her favourite drink – gin.

A few martinis later and Heddles and his friend Adam Carpenter decided it was a good idea to make a gin company of their own in Mary’s memory.

In a nod to America’s 1920s prohibition era, Heddles named the company Prohibition Liquor and the pair have tried to continue paying homage to the time period through their product packaging.

After only a year of business, Prohibition Liquor won gold at the New York International Spirits Competition for its Bathtub Cut Gin, which had the highest alcohol percentage for a southern hemisphere gin at the time (69 per cent).

While not all alcohol-fuelled ideas have ended successfully, Prohibition Liquor has continued to win a stack of awards, including the best gold at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and gold at the 2019 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards.

Heddles said the gin has been distributed throughout liquor stores and bars across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

As well as his role with Prohibition Liquor, Heddles is the South Australian and Northern Territory Bakers Delight regional manager – a position he took up in 2014.

In June, Heddles was named in InDaily’s 40 Under 40, which recognises the best and brightest young business people in South Australia.

What is the single most important lesson you have learnt in your business career so far?

Surrounding yourself with the right people – people that can mentor you and people that can align themselves and follow your collective vision.

What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?

I love the parochial nature of business in South Australia – we truly support and love all things South Australian and promote our proud state on a global stage.

What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?

Our population base is always going to make business growth challenging, but cutting through the SA market and holding your own gives you a strong platform to launch into other markets as seasoned campaigners.

Do you see your future in South Australia? 

I am proudly South Australian. I love the collaboration within and external to my industry that feeds into our success, which I have not witnessed to our level anywhere else.

How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?

I would love to see more mentor programs through organisations like Brand SA (terrible decision to close) which strategically align young leaders with industry champions.

To see the full list of 40 winners go here.

This is our final mini-profile of each of the winners – go here to find all of the articles.

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