This morning we woke to the news that Never Never Distilling Company had won the trophy for Best Classic Gin at the World Gin Awards for their Southern Strength gin.
While many Australian gins have won medals in this competition, it is the first time an Australian gin has taken out an overall award.
As you can imagine, this is a hotly contested category. Indeed, one of the most awarded gins in the world, Tanqueray 10 was representing the UK. I’m unfamiliar with the other gins that made it through to the final, as nearly all them are unavailable in Australia, but you can see the full list here.
I spoke to Sean Baxter (sales and marketing) first thing this morning and it was clear the news was yet to sink in. Instead we scheduled an interview with the whole team this afternoon, where they chatted with me about their incredible news.
How did you feel looking at the shortlist?
Tim: I was honored we even made it onto the shortlist winning Australia’s Best Classic Gin. As a very young distillery, picking up world’s best anything was a little far-fetched in my mind.
George: I’m so happy that other people have enjoyed something we always had real clarity about it.
Sean: It was a little emotional for me seeing our gin alongside Tanqueray 10. It’s even in the San Francisco Spirits Awards Hall of Fame, because it won so many times. Being the Aussie representative in that category was pretty special.
Did you have any inkling Southern Strength gin was going to win?
Tim: It’s so rare to see Tanqueray in any competition. I admit hadn’t tried the other gins on the list, but seeing Tanqueray was daunting so I expected to see them to win.
George: Looking back over previous years, the bench mark is very high and some award winner, like Hernö are just so iconic, it was hard to believe we were in the running.
Sean: I honestly thought Tanqueray 10 would win, but thought we had good chance.
What was your reaction when you first heard the news?
Sean: We were all following along on twitter and had friends in the audience who were messaging us, so it was pretty exciting.
Tim: – I initially went very quiet. I felt complete shock and disbelief. Then I remembered that Sean’s lost a bet with me. He now has to wear a T- shirt with my face on it for 7 days at various locations. Then I tried to explain to my son Hugo what had happened. He really didn’t get it, so we went outside and threw water balloons instead. So that was pretty cool.
George: I was just overwhelmed at the love for the brand that we’ve all poured our souls into. We are still such a tiny business, it’s incredible to see it develop so quickly in this way.
Sean– I was literally stunned. Then there was so much swearing that my wife Cassie thought something truly terrible had happened. Southern Strength is probably my favourite of our three gins, savoury, rich oily, resinous, and delicious. I love it. To see it celebrated globally is really something else.
What will this award mean for Never Never Distilling Co. going forward?
Tim: Southern Strength has always been like the middle child and is often overlooked within our range, so I am hoping more people will try it out.
George: I think it will be hard for larger retailers to ignore us after this.
Sean: Southern Strength gin was created with the bartender in mind. It has a higher ABV and works so well in cocktails. I hope this award will bring more consumers to try Southern Strength, and maybe retailers and bars who might only pick one of our three gins to sell.
What are Never Never’s immediate plans?
Tim: Making sure we have enough stock!
George: We’ll maintain our drive to create awareness around our gins.
Sean: We’re excited about pop-up as part of the Adelaide Fringe. Every Sunday for the next four weeks, we’re running gin flights, tastings, master classes, serving amazing cocktails, and hosting a gin-shop. at the Stag Public House. We’ll be there from 1pm to 8pm. Tickets are available here.