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Southern distillers go from strength to strength

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McLaren Vales’ Never Never Distilling Co is celebrating being named Australia’s best distillery this month by expanding its cellar door and launching in France.

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The distillery, which began making gin in 2017, this year commissioned a 1000-litre still from Germany to increase its capacity five-fold.

It currently produces about 100,000 litres a year across its core range of five gins and also makes a number of limited releases.

Never Never has achieved national distribution, including through major chains such as Dan Murphy’s and has increased its export destinations to seven, although overseas shipments still account for less than 10 per cent of total volume.

Co-founder and managing director Goerge Georgiadis said the distillery would launch gin in France next month and is working on a Canadian export deal.

“South Australia is still our biggest market but New South Wales and Victoria are coming up pretty quickly and we’ve got a brand ambassador based in Melbourne now – our first employee out of Adelaide,” he said.

“Export really slowed down during COVID so we didn’t put a lot of focus on it during that period but we’re starting to do a lot more now as things open up.”

The company is looking to ramp exports up in 2022 once international travel is back on while continuing to grow in Australia.

“Now that things are starting to open up there’s a whole lot more activity that we haven’t been able to do that we are keen to get a lot more active on,” Georgiadis said.

“Events are coming back, which is awesome, and we started in South Australia last month and we’re looking forward to some national events.

“Our venue is currently being expanded and we’ve got a new outdoor bar opening just before Christmas and that will give us the ability to do more things up there like events and premium tasting experiences.”

Never Never is one of the state’s largest independently-owned distilleries following the purchases of Adelaide Hills Distillery (78 Degrees) and KI Spirits by listed beverage company Mighty Craft in the past 12 months.

Georgiadis, who is an InDaily 40 Under 40 alumnus, is also president of the South Australian Spirit Producers Association (SASPA), which launched an industry blueprint in October to map the industry’s path forward.

The blueprint predicts sales to more than triple to between $120 million and $180 million by 2031 and employment to increase to 2300 direct jobs.

Never Never this month won three trophies – Best London Dry Gin, Best Navy Strength Gin and Champion Distiller at the 2021 Australian Distilled Spirit Awards in Melbourne.

It also won the Champion Distiller trophy last year, competing against all spirit categories from Tasmanian whisky to Queensland Rum and everything in between.

Head Distiller Tim Boast was awarded the 2021 Distiller of the Year title.

“It’s always humbling to see the response people have to the flavours we love,” he said.

“We’ve tried to make gin that is richer in character, to create superior G&Ts and classic cocktails.

“It’s great to see that over 40 panel judges at the Australian Distilled Spirit Awards agree with us.”

Never Never has also been making noise on the global awards stage in recent weeks.

It was shortlisted as one of the world’s five best global distilleries at the International Wine and Spirits Competition and won Global Distiller of the Year at the Spirits Business Awards.

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