Confessions of a retailer: Harvest Australian Liquor

2nd March, 2018 by Owen Bellwood

Australian spirits are on the rise, a trend that the founder of Harvest Australian Liquor hopes to capitalise on as it promotes home­-grown brands to discerning consumers.

Scott McCarthy, founder of Harvest Australian Liquor

Scott McCarthy, founder of Harvest Australian Liquor

When did you launch Harvest Australian Liquor?

We registered the business in January 2017 then launched the website in July that year.

Before we launched online, we needed to build relationships with distilleries and work on the construction of the site. We wanted to perfect these aspects before launching.

Where did the idea for the business come from?

I had been a bar owner for eight years and developed a passion for Australian spirits and spirit production. There wasn’t an online shop that was solely dedicated to Australian spirits and drinks, so I thought we could do this for Australian consumers.

How long have you been working in the drinks trade?

In 2007 I purchased a bar. I had worked in the events industry for years and was looking to fulfil the dream of owning a bar, where I could pass on my passion for spirits and events.

What has changed over the years?

While I’ve been in the industry, I’ve noticed consumers are starting to choose Australian spirits, and are interested in the origin of the drinks and their backstories.

We have started hosting our own ‘Meet your Maker’ masterclasses, where consumers can meet and talk to distillers to learn more about the spirits they love.

What are the main challenges your company faces?

A challenge, but a great one for us, is to influence and educate consumers on the great spirits we make here in Australia. Everything from the big-­name brands they see every day, which can often be cheaper because of mass production, to smaller independent producers. We are also a small company, and as with most small businesses, cash flow can be a problem.

How would you describe your current range?

Our range is always growing. We always try to source new products that aren’t easily available and might be unique for many consumers. We try and fit these products alongside the established brands.

What do you consider when looking for new products to stock?

I started by building relationships with distilleries in our home state of Southern Australia to support local produce.

Also, I travel to spirits events around Australia, speaking to distillers and ambassadors, which can lead me to choose great products and great businesses that have grown from the ground up. Products that have good backstories help with the sales process and help educate consumers.

What’s your favourite item you stock?

I really like the Limeburners Port Cask single malt 43% abv. It’s aged in ex-Bourbon casks and is finished in small Port casks. It delivers nice fruity and spicy aromas, and when water is added, it really brings out the flavours of vanilla and malted barley.

What is the best thing about working at Harvest Australian Liquor?

Even though we are an online shop, I really like speaking to consumers about our products. If they have a question and I don’t know the answer I always try to find out, to help them and to increase my knowledge.

What’s most rewarding about your job?

I really like to meet people who have only ever drunk one kind of spirit in their life. It’s great trying to convince them to try something they normally wouldn’t; their reaction can be great.

What does 2018 hold for Harvest Australian Liquor?

2017 saw a huge demand from on-­premise retailers, so we hope to branch out into distribution this year. We will also continue our focus on great quality Australian whisky, rum and gin.

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