With a string of global accolades under its belt, Never Never Distilling Co thoroughly impressed the refined palates of critics at the World Gin Awards this year. That’s quite a feat for a distillery that upgraded its base from a Port Adelaide shed to McLaren Vale within four years.
Founded on the mantra of creating gins that are bursting with flavour and designed to enhance classic serves, the distillery’s Triple Juniper Export Strength was named the World’s Best London Dry Gin. Regarded as a highly competitive category, Never Never Distilling Co outperformed 30 other exceptional gins from all over the world.
Masters of flavour
A gin is like any dish, George Georgiadis, the Co-Founder of Never Never Distilling Co, tells The CEO Magazine, where the fine balance of ingredients has a dramatic impact on flavour.
"We really pack our gins full of botanical oils," says Georgiadis. "More flavour makes better gin and better gin makes better drinks, so that’s our mantra and around that we’ve always tried to push the boundaries of innovation."
The magic of the award-winning beverage is the culmination of juniper supported by a delicate balance of various botanicals: lemon and lime peel to add citrus; orris and angelica root to provide floral and savoury notes; a touch of cinnamon bark for warmth; liquorice root for sweetness; and Tasmanian pepper berry that perfectly compliments the classic gin juniper driven profile.
"We distil it in three ways to give more depth and complexity to the juniper," Georgiadis explains.
The emergence of smaller distilleries focused on fresh and exciting botanical formulations coincides with the rise in consumer preference for authentic brand storytelling and drinks that deliver something unique.
These businesses are driving gin’s market growth by 4.4 per cent (2018–2023) globally, according to the IWSR, a leader on data and analysis in the alcoholic beverage market. In Australia the sector is anticipated to grow annually by 6.49 per cent.
A crowded marketplace means more competition, with gin producers from countries like Japan and Scotland producing unique flavour profiles, reflecting the best of what these settings have to offer.
"More flavour makes better gin and better gin makes better drinks, so that’s our mantra and around that we’ve always tried to push the boundaries of innovation." – George Georgiadis
However, Never Never Distilling Co is particularly fortunate that they have a master distiller, Tim Boast, propelling the business to new heights with his humble yet fearless approach to his passion – earning him the title of World’s Best Distiller at the very same awards this year.
With a range of gins that have broad appeal and versatile use, the distillery is positioned to suit the emerging consumer palate, which is changing as more people experiment with cocktails at home.
"We’re not offering a niche product for a niche occasion. We’re offering a gin that can really be your go-to – that’s always going to be the most delicious gin in all the ways that you like to drink gin regularly," Georgiadis explains.
While location is more critical to the production of wine, Georgiadis believes the community in which the brand is situated plays an important role in producing award-winning products.
"We operate an incredible community here in South Australia, particularly in McLaren Vale where we’re based. We have fantastic knowledge, fantastic palates and skills all around us, so we really couldn’t have better support to produce world-quality spirits," he says.
In 2019 Never Never Distilling Co’s Southern Strength Gin was crowned World’s Best Classic Gin.
"I remember we went from the three Founders to hiring two employees the next day. It kick-started us into national retail for the first time in a big way," Georgiadis reflects. "We’re seeing similar effects now with this latest award and certainly international interest."
Innovation at its core
Growing up in Adelaide, Georgiadis was exposed to a rich landscape of food and beverage, which drew him back to South Australia after working in the finance industry in Sydney.
Georgiadis recalls visiting some of the nation’s best bars that were around the corner from him and immersing himself in the world of cocktails and spirits.
"I actually met our brand ambassador Shay Chamberlain, who is based in Melbourne, across the bar in those early days, so that was an important part of my interest and education," Georgiadis reveals. "I then made a lifestyle decision to move back to South Australia."
Between gin and cheese (Georgiadis’ other passion) alcohol turned out to be the better fit. "Certainly from a business perspective the spirits market was really starting to take off back then," he says. "When we started doing the preparation there were maybe 10 or so gin brands in Australia."
The former executive for Macquarie Bank partnered with Tim Boast and Sean Baxter, each delivering their unique expertise to the business.
Since launching in 2016, the brand’s most innovative products have been born through collaboration. For its Oyster Shell Gin, the distillery partnered with Society Restaurant in Melbourne to offer a sensational expression of the Australian coastline imbued with a fresh saline quality. Built for a savoury martini, Kangaroo Island oyster shell is paired with waxflower, saltbush and round mint.
For their Argo Gin, the team collaborated with Four Seasons, Hong Kong where a tea consultant informed the outcome – a gin matured in vermouth-seasoned ex-chardonnay barrels to which aromatic Shou Mai, Oolong and Fu Ding teas are added.
"The combination of that innovative cask finish and the way the teas were incorporated into the gin certainly make a really fresh and innovative take on the martini style gin," Georgiadis says.
The company plans to continue experimenting and delivering to its high standard. "We don’t want anything to go out in one of our bottles unless we feel confident that it can really stand up and deliver that promise of more flavour that’s going to improve those classic serves," he says.
However, now that the brand has performed consistently well on the international stage, Georgiadis hopes to bring a greater number of consumers on board – those who are yet to experience Australia’s most highly acclaimed gins straight from the purity and beauty of McLaren Vale.