Tasmania’s New Zealand Whisky Collection
Three Tasmanian men export New Zealand whisky to the world.
Three Tasmanian men export New Zealand whisky to the world. And they do it from Hobart. They are part of a growing movement, working from home in Tasmania and delivering international outcomes.
Greg Ramsay works in his Blundstones, Troy Trewin in his active wear and Tom Holder can often be found working in his ugg boots. It’s the beauty of working from home but this trio mean serious business. They’re helping revive a century-old whisky industry and The New Zealand Whisky Collection has a turnover approaching $2 million annually.
In October 2010, Ramsay stumbled across the last 443 barrels of New Zealand whisky in the small seaside town of Oamaru, 1.5 hours north of Dunedin in New Zealand. These 80 000 litres of cask-strength whisky were the last golden drops of a rich distilling heritage. Ramsay and his co-investors bought them and went about re-branding and exporting.
Tasmania has a booming whisky industry, currently home to 23 distilleries with more on the way. This local activity and knowledge, combined with support from their South Island allowed these entrepreneurial Tasmanians to take this whisky to the world.
“In 2011 I moved back from London to live in Melbourne,” says Trewin, originally from Benalla, Victoria. “I came to Tasmania for Greg’s wedding and never left.”
Ramsay brings an entrepreneurial spirit and drive to the team, establishing his reputation at 23 years old developing the acclaimed Barnbougle Dunes Golf Course. His business ventures are varied, and he considers himself an importer and exporter.
“If I see regional business models working well overseas, I try and import them to broaden Tasmania’s economic base. Likewise if I see Tasmanians doing things that are world-class and profitable, I try and export them to friends of mine in areas where I like to spend time,” he explains.
During two years in Scotland, Ramsay developed skills integral to the development of Journeyman Distillery in Michigan and Kingsbarns Distillery in Fife, which he now applies to The New Zealand Whisky Collection.
Trewin is the company’s CEO and has sought out whisky distribution channels throughout Australia, Europe and the UK. His experience with start-ups extends across strategy, management, finance, business development and project management. Designer, Tom Holder, who rounds out the trio is an IT specialist and graphic designer. He has reinvigorated the brand with modern packaging and labels, continuing to re-invent the company’s website.
What the New Zealand Whisky Collection had, that none of Ramsay’s previous distillery developments enjoyed, was market-ready product.
“The hard thing with whisky, when compared with brewing beer or even vodka and gin distilleries, is that you have to sit on your capital investment, your operating costs and your product for years before it’ll give you back a dollar. Many distilleries have produced next-day sale items like liqueurs, gin, vodka and schnapps to generate revenue,” he explains. “For us, getting national distribution through Dan Murphy’s across Australia gave us an immediate income and a proven platform of demand, upon which to grow the business.”
The three men work from home and are part of a six person team based between New Zealand and Tasmania. The small team in New Zealand works with stock, warehousing and shipping, with the company due to launch into the United States in July this year.
“Following the US launch, about 80-90 per cent of sales will be outside New Zealand. Today’s technology means that your location doesn’t matter,” says Trewin.
“I’m a big advocate of working with your energy levels so I work in 90-minute sprints – that helps in working from home. I don’t get lonely because I have at least a meeting a day, Google Hangouts, weekly sales meeting and there’s still plenty of talk and chatter,” adds Trewin. Plus the team travel to New Zealand every three months or so.
“The lifestyle here is wonderful,” says Trewin. “I can base my day around the weather, taking my daughter to the park or the dog for a run by shifting my work time. Everything is so accessible. I can be at the beach within minutes or take the laptop to a café to work on something strategic for an hour or two.”
There are always plenty of projects at hand, outside of whisky. Ramsay has also transformed his family farm in Bothwell to a 40-bed highland getaway, Ratho Farm, a business both Holder and Trewin are involved with. Guests can play a round on Australia’s oldest golf course, cast for trout and of course, sample fine Tasmanian and New Zealand whisky.
Find out more about the New Zealand Whisky Collection here or visit the Facebook page. Have you got an idea for a new business? For information on starting a business in Tasmania see our other business stories and visit Business Tasmania.