Written on the 11 July 2016 by Karen Rickert


VANTAGE Australia has taken a bigger swig of the beverage market with what it hopes will become the nation's drink of choice.

Distilled in Melbourne, Spirit of a Nation is not classified as a vodka, gin or rum, but as a botanical white spirit with an alcohol volume of 37 per cent.

The drink takes its inspiration from native bushland and infuses lemon myrtle, Tasmanian mountain pepper and locally-grown mandarin oil with a neutral spirit.

Vantage Australia founder Bill Hargitay says he developed the concept after recognising a gap in the market.

He says the Russians are known for vodka, gin is considered to be British and rum has a Caribbean vibe, while Australia is mainly recognised for its beer.

"I've travelled a lot in my career and it always amazed me that Australia never really had a genuine national spirit," Hargitay says.

"It's a very versatile spirit that can be mixed in the same way as the majority of white spirits. Interestingly, a lot of people enjoy the flavour and drink it neat which you wouldn't traditionally do with gin or white rum."

Hargitay owned Redheads matches with his business partner for 12 years prior to launching Vantage Australia in 2015.

Applying his distribution experience through the grocery channel, Hargitay decided to launch Spirit of a Nation through the travel retail market.

The one litre bottle is stocked in duty free stores to offer tourists and outbound travellers an Australian souvenir alternative to a stuffed koala.

The drink has recently landed in Aelia Duty Free stores in Adelaide and the Gold Coast, as well Heinemann's Tax & Duty Free store at Sydney Airport. The duty free store at Melbourne Airport will follow suit later this year.

The strategic channel ensures the brand is poised to capitalise on more than 6.5 million tourists visiting Australia nationally, as well as up to seven million Australians travelling overseas.

Domestic buyers can purchase the 700ml bottle through Dan Murphy's and selected liquor outlets.

"It's a solution for Australians going overseas to visit family or corporate travellers wanting to bring a unique gift," Hargitay says.

"If they're an Australian tasting the product they may wish to repurchase when they return to Australia, so there's a domestic version available as well.

"We're targeting greater distribution in the domestic market with our 700ml product."

Vantage Australia has also launched a cocktail recipe book, showcasing signature Spirit of a Nation cocktails in honour of each of the capital cities.

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