As a gin distiller who was - almost - only available through the hospo industry, Anther Gin lost most of their sales overnight when COVID-19 kicked in.
They didn't let that stop them. They've opened their 'forever home' in Geelong and have diversified the way they get their gin into our hands (and it's a bloody good gin ). We checked in Anther's Founders, Sebastian Reaburn, Dervilla McGowan and their team.
1. What has the Pandemic meant for Anther Gin? Did it significantly change the way you produce and operate?
The Pandemic smashed our sales, we lost 80% overnight. We are primarily an industry brand, with amazing support from bars and restaurants. So when they were all closed, our business took a massive hit.
We made a huge move in the way we sell our gin, we got our online liquor licence, and made a web shop. We started to communicate really differently, directly to gin drinkers.
Previously a lot of our communication was industry focussed, to bartenders and waiters, so we had to change that to talk to drinkers directly.
It meant a big change to our logistics, learning pick and pack, and a big change for our communications.
We have also been really lucky that Amy, who has been part of Anther since almost day one, has amazing empathy in the way she communicates. She has lead how we share this time with our industry partners. It was heartbreaking to watch our friends being stood down from their jobs and struggling to hold onto their businesses.
We started the Stay Connected Cocktail Comp to share this crazy time, it is just a place to share cocktails, with any brand, and we have given away a bottle of Anther every week since the lockdown started. And we’ll keep doing it till things re-open.
Isolation and lockdown has been so tough, so a fun way to share silly drinks, and have a laugh has been really nice to be part of.
2. Tell us about your new home in Geelong - how can we engage with the space as restrictions ease?
Our forever home! It is a glorious, beautiful, 100-year-old red brick factory. The distillery is right at the base of a huge red brick chimney, you can’t miss it! We have been planning this site for two years, and when the pandemic hit, we had a crisis meeting about whether we wait it out, or push ahead. We decided to double down and push ahead and started the build at Easter.
We will have the distillery open for tastings and drinks by the end of July. We will be producing and distilling in August. Before the end of the year we hope to be able to open stage two, which is a 400 capacity bar and event space.
But for now, we can safely have 40 people socially distanced in the distillery area once restrictions ease. We have a short, but awesome cocktail list, with signatures like our Blackcurrant Negroni with Anther, Maidenii and Marionette Cassis. And lots of gin and tonic!
3. How are you and your team?
We are a lot better now. It was incredibly stressful early on and we made sure to catch up daily on Zoom to check in and support each other.
We have an incredibly strong and buoyant team who have kept digging deeper to stay positive through the uncertainty.
We have all had our moments, and we have had to support each other, be gentle and kind when we are having tough days, and remember that everyone is working through this and everyone needs a smile and a virtual hug sometimes.
But we have pivoted our business, achieved things we didn’t think we could, and we hope to come out of this a different, stronger company. The experience had galvanised our team, and we are closer now than ever!
It has also been so inspiring to see how our industry has supported each other. It has kept us going seeing people like Jason Chan feed so many industry people stuck with no income. A huge shout out to this incredible industry, who always seem to find a way to ask, how can I help?