Meet Stuart Gregor from Four Pillars Gin, a small gin distillery in Healesville, Yarra Valley, Australia proudly est. 2013.
After starting his career as a journalist with News Corp and later moving to Adelaide to pursue a Diploma in Wine Marketing, Stuart went on to work in wine PR in Melbourne, author a number of wine guides, and do further study, attaining a Masters of Marketing in Melbourne and graduating from the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
He started a PR agency called Liquid Ideas in 2000 with a plan to combine his knowledge of the communications industry with that of the wine business. 18 years later, he employs 30 people and represents brands across the whole spectrum of the hospitality and tourism industry.
Beyond running a successful agency, he has also tinkered with winemaking, part-owns a luxury travel business and, in 2013, decided to start a gin distillery with two business partners.
Five years down the track, his label – Four Pillars Gin – is represented in 20 markets worldwide, with that number growing daily. Four Pillar’s Distillery in Healesville in Victoria’s Yarra Valley is ranked number one for attractions on TripAdvisor and attracts 90,000 visitors per year.
So how did he do it? What’s the secret to creating a brand that is popular with the trade as well as the public?
Gregor says that the first thing you need to do is research. He and his partners, Cameron Mackenzie and Matt Jones, went on a tour of the Pacific Northwest in the USA. They looked at distilleries from Washington, down to LA, taking in Portland, San Francisco and Napa on their travels.
They then invested the $1.03 million they raised from ‘ginvestors’ and a Pozible campaign into buying the best stills in the world from Germany, hiring the best people, and eventually buying an old timber yard in the Yarra Valley to convert into a bar and distillery.
Gregor says you also need to invest in good design and packaging, social media and digital campaigns, merchandise, and point-of-sale collateral.
“Figure out what your aspirations are and be realistic,” he said.
“In any endeavour, you can set your aspirations to be the best in the street, the suburb, the state, the country or the world. We wanted to take on brands like Hendricks so we knew we were going to have to invest a lot of time, effort, resources and money,” said Gregor
In the liquor trade, Gregor says you need great relationships and a good distributor, but more than anything, you need a world class product.
“You have to be able to show your product to a bartender that you’ve never met and they have to want it, even though you don’t know each other and may not even speak the same language. The product has to earn its place on the back bar,” he said.
For more information about Stuart Gregor or Four Pillars Gin, visit www.fourpillarsgin.com.au
To hear Stuart speak at Destination Food, grab your tickets here now http://destination-food.com.au/tickets