Geez Louise! 2020 - a year of ups and downs. The team at Nip of Courage didn't let bush-fires and pandemics get in the way of celebrating fantastic Australian distilleries and sharing delicious spirits with the world. Here are some of this year's highlights from our team:
1. 'The Community Spirit' volunteer bush-fire relief campaign - 'Discover a distillery road trip'
The Community Spirit was a collaboration between Nip of Courage and Spirits and Cocktails Australia. The project set out to support and promote Australian distillers impacted by the widespread bushfires of late 2019 and early 2020. There were two main elements of the project:
Stock was bought from fire-affected distilleries at full retail value to provide financial assistance, especially to those forced to close their cellar doors due to immediate fire risk. This stock was then passed on to venues holding fire relief fundraising events - returning much needed funds to these fire-affected communities.
We embarked on a road trip covering some 5,000km across Australia. Led by Nip of Courage's national ambassador Abby Roennfeldt, the 'Discover a Distillery Road Trip' highlighted the stories of Australian craft distillers and showcased the experiences on offer to draw local tourism back to their communities.
The project was a great success, bringing many small Australian craft distilleries into the spotlight. As borders begin to re-open, we hope that this project will continue to entice travelers to continue to 'discover a distillery' over the holiday period.
2. Women of Australian Distilling: International Women's Day
International Women's Day took place on Sunday the 8th of March 2020. Nip of Courage were proud to be involved with a fabulous celebration and congregation of Women of Australian Distilling.
The event, held at Bloodwood Restaurant in Newtown, highlighted the stories and achievements of a number of women within the industry including:
- Dervilla McGowan (Anther Spirits)
- Heather Tillott (Sullivans Cove Whisky)
- Melanie Sheard (Imbue Distillery)
- Claire Van Vuuren (Bloodwood)
- Julia Campbell (Women in Hospitality)
...and our very own Kathleen Davies and Abby Roennfeldt.
The International Women's Day Lunch at Bloodwood featured local beer, wine, and spirits with the support of P&V Wine & Liquor and Philter Brewing. The food menu was curated by Claire Van Vuuren. It was bold, delicious, packed with flavour, and was inspired by the range of Australian spirits tasted on the day.
3. Uh oh, here comes COVID-19!
Covid-19 lock downs were not easy for anybody, including the team at Nip of Courage. We ended up losing 80% of our business revenue overnight due to venue closures nationally. Many of our team were forced to work from home for a number of weeks until a "Covid Safety Plan" could be implemented. We had to take a number of measures at the office and warehouse including temperature checks, socially-distanced work stations and meetings, signage, sanitiser, and a handful of Covid tests for good measure!
4. Hand painted bottled cocktails to support local venues
Whilst March commenced with gatherings and celebrations, it ended in lockdowns across the whole nation. Covid-19 restrictions were tough on all industries, but particularly difficult for those in hospitality. Nip of Courage began to create hand-painted cocktails to support local small businesses and to allow craft spirit aficionados to enjoy craft cocktails in the comfort of their own home.
The Bloodwood Negroni was a hit. Other limited edition designs included the Tiger King Negroni and Mother's Day Toffee Negroni.
5. Virtual World Gin Day
We had to do things a little bit different this year for World Gin Day. Covid-19 restrictions made any public gatherings near impossible, so Nip of Courage had a crack at some new, uncharted territory - virtual events.
The event took place on Zoom on Saturday the 13th of June 2020 and was hosted by national ambassador Abby Roennfeldt. The event featured Kath's Gin History, a gin tasting led by Phoebe and Jess, a cocktail demonstration with Quynh, and Gingo with Abby. Prizes were won and lots of fun was had. The day was a big learning curve for the team in adapting to 'the new normal' in a socially-distanced world. We hope to be able to run even bigger and better virtual events down the track!
6. Gordan Ramsay visits Belgrove Distillery to make whisky with Peter Bignell
Gordon Ramsay's National Geographic series 'Uncharted' made its way to Tasmania for its second season. In an episode titled "Untamed Tasmania", Gordon made his way around Tasmania sampling locally made produce including a visit to our very own Peter Bignell at Belgrove Distillery.
Gordon was treated to a tour of Belgrove Distillery along with a whisky tasting with Peter. Peter's limited release 'Wholly Sh*t' Whisky was a feature of the visit, and Gordon was lucky enough to shovel some sheep sh*t as Peter explained how this unique product came to be.
Peter spoke to National Liquor News about his very excited appearance on the popular series with one of the world's favourite celebrity chefs.
“They contacted me, I have no idea how they found out about me. I suspect it was because of the Wholly Sh*t Whisky and winning quite a few awards in world competitions, but someone must have done their research,” Bignell said.
Belgrove Distillery's feature is on Season Two, Episode One of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted. You can catch it through the National Geographic Channel and on Disney+.
7. Imbue Distillery prepares their new cellar door
Imbue Distillery were busy setting up their new tasting room and bottle shop in Ivanhoe, Victoria throughout the closing months of a very tumultuous 2020. Mel and Mick Sheard were very excited to launch this beautiful new space as of the 11th of December this year. Visitors are able to meet the Imbue team at 13/149 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe VIC 3079. We can't wait to visit soon!
8. Stone Pine Distillery x Badlands Collaboration
October saw an exciting collaboration between Badlands Brewery (Orange) and Stone Pine Distillery (Bathurst). Beer and gin together in a sympathetic harmony!
Stone Pine’s Double IPA hopped Gin is infused with Lemondrop and Motueka hops from the Badlands’ hop store together with botanicals Lemon Myrtle, Coriander, Juniper and Angelica to deliver a robust hopped spirit that blurs the lines between gin and beer. Badlands’ Gin Botanical Double IPA is infused with the same botanicals and hops as the gin. The beer mirrors the complex and nuanced flavours of the gin.
This was a limited release and proved to be very popular - we look forward to more exciting collaborations in 2021.
9. Karu Distillery cellar door building plans commence
This year we had the pleasure of partnering with Karu Distillery, located in 'The Devils Wilderness' in Grose Vale, New South Wales. Founders Ally and Nick Ayres received the go-ahead from council to start the construction of their new cellar door on the same site as their distillery. The location is surrounded by natural bushland and gardens, where the Karu team are able to forage for many of the botanicals featured in their gins. The cellar door is due to be completed in Autumn 2021 and will be a must visit!
10. Timboon Railway Shed Distillery, ABeckett's Creek Cooperage & New Still
Timboon Railway Shed Distillery endured a difficult lock down period in Victoria due to the pandemic situation, but 2020 wasn't all bad news for the Timboon team. Josh Walker and the crew launched their own cooperage this year to service the requirements of the whisky-making process onsite. There aren't too many cooperages in Australia making and reconditioning barrels and we are very proud to see Timboon evolve to the next level.
In addition, a shiny new still also arrived at the distillery - a 1650lt Burns copper pot wash still. Josh is looking forward to releasing estate releases under the Timboon label as soon as the whisky is ready, so stay tuned!
11. Virtual Masterclass Kits
To adapt to new COVID-19 conditions in the marketplace, we had to adapt to consumers that weren't able to go out, but still wanted Australian craft spirits at home. The solution? Virtual Distillery Masterclasses that were presented by a range of industry experts. The masterclasses Nip of Courage put together throughout the year included:
- Belgrove Distillery Virtual Masterclass
- Timboon Distillery Virtual Masterclass
- Imbue Distillery Virtual Masterclass.
These virtual masterclasses are available on our online store.
We also helped out retail partners like our friends at The Oak Barrel put together their exclusive online whisky tasting packs showcasing a range of fantastic Australian distillers.
12. Nip of Courage helps the Australian Distillers Association conference go virtual
There had never been a more important time for Australian distillers to come together than in the year of 2020. Bushfires, floods, droughts and then Covid-19 provided less than ideal conditions for the local industry to thrive. Nip of Courage, an associate member of the ADA, was a driving force in taking the annual ADA Conference to the virtual stage.
The event took place on the 16th of November 2020 and was hosted by ADA President, Stuart Gregor. With the help of the Citadel in Crows Nest, the day was an overwhelming success with over 150 attendees and a number of insightful presentations from industry experts along the way. Nip of Courage also had to opportunity to formally announce their new project - NOC Wholesale.
Below are some of the highlights from the day:
13. Nip of Courage announces a NEW Wholesaler service for the industry
Nip of Courage has been working hard throughout the year for our November announcement of our new national wholesaler service - NOC Wholesale.
NOC Wholesale will provide warehousing and logistics solutions exclusively for Australian craft distilleries. This service will be an extension of Nip of Courage's current distribution and retail services.
We have been busy on-boarding distilleries throughout November and December in preparation for our launch in 2021. The service will provide an online portal for trade and a larger range of great Australian products will be available direct to the consumer on our online store.
There is a lot to digest here, so we've broken it down into a short video that sums it up nicely. Take a look!
14. The Community Spirit awarded the 'Ethical Award' at the Spirit Business Awards 2020
Nip of Courage were thrilled to be announced as the winners for the Ethical category in The Spirits Business awards of 2020. The team worked on The Community Spirit project to raise support and awareness for fire-affected distilleries across the country. The project was funded by Spirits and Cocktails Australia and we were ecstatic to see this collaboration have a global impact. The awards ceremony was live-streamed from the UK in the early hours of the 2nd of December and many of us stayed up in anticipation for the announcement.
The Spirits Business Awards was launched in 2019 and aims to champion the workforce of the spirits industry in a range of categories including marketing, sustainability, products, people and tourism. The judging panel is composed of a number of industry leaders including spirits journalists, marketers, and bar entrepreneurs.
You can check out all of this year's winners here.
15. Boosting Female Founders Initiative
What a way to finish off the year! Nip of Courage were announced as a recipient of the 'Boosting Female Founders' Grant in a initiative from the Australian Federal Government. This grant will contribute to a $1 million investment into growing and supporting the Australian craft spirits industry. The project will be led by our very own female founder Kathleen Davies and will involve a number of elements including NOC Wholesale (launching early 2021), The Community Spirit, industry seminars and sector-wide innovation.
The Boosting Female Founders Initiative provides female founders of start-up businesses with funding to launch and scale their businesses into domestic and global markets. It helps female entrepreneurs overcome the disadvantages they face in getting access to finance and support to grow their start-ups.
"This year has been a very emotional one with lots of lows and not too many highs for the entire industry. It has made us realise the importance of positive team culture and resilience. The team was overwhelmed with this announcement. Bring on 2021!"
- Leanne Welch | Operations Manager
"To our family, friends, industry colleagues, customers and distillers, the Nip of Courage team would like to thank you for your generous support and friendship during what has been a very difficult year. Please continue to make choices to support the hospitality industry, local distilleries and small businesses during 2021 and let's raise our glass to good health and better times ahead."
- Kathleen Davies | Founder