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ADRIANE MCDERMOTT

We put a call-out to the women in Australian distilling to give us an insight into who they are, and why they chose this industry, here’s some of their responses!


ADRIANE MCDERMOTT

Founder of TANICA, NSW


HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY? 


1-3 years


WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN THE INDUSTRY?


Even before I could legally drink, my first job was in waiting tables and recommending wines at a fine dining restaurant, and my second was working for a bottle shop stocking spirit shelves where I grew up in New York state. In my early 30s, I worked for Diageo here in Sydney and I can honestly say it was the peak of happiness in my corporate career. I love this industry, the people and the ability to spend so much time tasting and experiencing great spirits and cocktails. I'm partial to Australian gins, because of the botanicals we have here in Australia. I even started a gin blog and ginstagram called Ginfolly before TANICA in order to be 'gifted' product to try and review. It's this love of Australian native and natural ingredients, and a desire to drink lower strength spirits as a spritz, that has driven me to start TANICA.


YOUR MOST PROUD MOMENTS IN THE INDUSTRY? 


Within our first month of launching the new TANICA native plum aperitif, we won a gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. That's when I knew we were onto something great. I was fortunate enough to find and work with Shaun Byrne who is our head distiller. He has taught me so much about crafting quality at every level. From the sourcing of hand-harvested native plums to the unique, gradual maceration we do, I feel that the result is a distinctive, world-class liquid. What does TANICA taste like? Like nothing else really. It's sweet and tart. Fresh, like a zesty Davidson's plum. But underneath it is botanical, like a gin without juniper but lighter with hints of mint. We use fresh orange peel, strawberry gum leaf in our distillation stage and you can smell notes of orange blossom and eucalypt because of this. It finishes really fresh. For an aperitif, it's not made with a lot of quinine or gentian or sickly sweet like traditional Italian styles. It feels fresher, fruity and more botanical, less bitter.


WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN THE INDUSTRY?


What I love about leading a female-founded brand is creating a culture and a community that is in tune with the needs of women and can connect with them authentically. All our best suppliers, designers, partners and advisors understand first-hand what we are trying to achieve. They relate to our vision and are as obsessed as we are with the brand world and the occasion we are leaning into. I just wish there were more of them in our industry, particularly in influential commercial roles or with the requisite production expertise we need to continue to build our business to its highest potential in the future.


WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE THAT KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT AUSSIE CRAFT SPIRITS? 


There's nothing like the experience of drinking something that has been created from local produce and botanicals that are indigenous to the area in which you live. The closer we can keep spirits to the food, culture and natural ingredients around us, the better they are to experience.


WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULD WANT TO TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?


Finally having the chance to build my own brand from scratch, I wish I had paid more attention long ago to understand the nuts and bolts of creating a profitable business. The concept of management accounting always seemed a tad boring to me, now it's critical. Understanding how to plan production schedules and negotiate with suppliers to manage COGS was always someone else's job, now it's mine. Don't get me wrong, I am happy now that I spent most of my career in marketing, brand design and visual merchandising, because these areas have become a source of differentiation. But I've had to learn the other aspects of running a sustainable business on the fly. It's a steep curve. And the sooner you start climbing it by learning from experts in their respective fields, the better.


WHAT IS YOUR SPECIAL TALENT/PARTY TRICK?


Doing the robot dance. Problem is, I think I am better at it than I really am. But it always seems to get a laugh. I'm also ALWAYS up for a playing cards, planning a great bush walk, hosting an apertivo hour, or a round of golf. Golf is one of those gender-levelling competitive pursuits where keeping your wits is more important than brute strength. I like winning at those kind of things.


ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU WANT US TO KNOW?


What I am most proud of with TANICA is that I think it expresses what I love about Australia and what we have in our our backyard. I moved here in my 20s and maybe its easier for me to see and appreciate how we live here as aspirational for today. We’re modern and sophisticated, yet supremely relaxed. It's the feeling of 'all in' and 'at ease' at the same time. It's this knack Australians have for living in balance - effortless, vibrant, bright - that we've tried to capture in TANICA.


WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU THE MOST IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?


Kathleen Davies of Nip of Courage has really inspired me to take the plunge into the Australian distiller market. She has a passion (and a sense of humour) like no one else, and is an exceptional supporter of all Australian brands. For me personally, she goes out of her way to support TANICA. Without the support of people like Kathleen, our journey would be nearly impossible.


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