By Ian Neubauer
Boutique Tasmanian distiller Strait Drinks is about to sign a major deal that will see millions of bottles of its spirits imported to China over the next five years.
Strait Drinks managing director, Philip Ridyard, said his company was finalising a five-year deal that will see a minimum of 500,000 spirit bottles exported to China within the next 24 months.
“The distributor is extremely enthusiastic about our products and has signed up 12 distributors in other areas in China to take on Strait Vodka, Strait Dry Gin and the Strait 20 range, which are vodka and gin blends with hibiscus juice that have a 20 per cent alcohol volume,” he said.
“The attraction of those is that they are targeted to the female market, as female drinkers have not been catered to in China, and they have tended to drink beer or Chinese rice wines. We are offering them something totally different.”
The deal will represent a culmination of years of research that saw Ridyard visit China on multiple occasions and spend months walking from bar to bar looking at what was available and what opportunities existed, and finding an importer that was willing to help Strait develop their product range.
“We are in an ideal place there as our vodka sits directly between the mid-range, which includes brands like Absolut and Finlandia, and the top-range, which is dominated by Grey Goose and Ciroc vodka. The only competition in our price range right now is 42Below,” he said.
Ridyard said the secret to Strait’s success in China was tenacity and the intimate knowledge and expertise of Yalla Solution, their Beijing-based importer. “Their attention to detail has been incredible, down to the last full stop on a bill of loading that has to be correct, because they know what Chinese customs are like.”
Based in the Tamar Valley of Northern Tasmania, Strait Drinks is in the process of upgrading its distilling and bottling facilities to accommodate demand for its products in China and other emerging markets, including Vietnam and Eastern Russia. On completion it will have capacity to produce 5 million bottles annually per shift.
By Ian Neubauer