FROM BEHIND THE BAR: A RUM STATE OF MIND


ASIA PACIFIC, 13 JULY – In the world of rum, each bottle’s story is as rich and complex as the spirit itself. Beyond flavours and aromas, a deeper narrative emerges from local ingredients, traditions, histories, and environments. This World Rum Day, we explore how these elements shape the identities of distinctive rum brands. By examining terroir and origin, we uncover how Husk Rum, Ron Matusalem, Canerock, and Planteray Rum harness their cultural and geographical heritage to create extraordinary spirits.

The Essence of Barbados

Planteray Rum captures the complexity of Barbados, the birthplace of rum, and stands as a tribute to the island’s rich history and vibrant culture. It offers profound insights into Barbados’ multifaceted traditions. Known for its sophisticated blend of pot and column stills, Barbados showcases a meticulous production process that begins with the fermentation of molasses and culminates in the final distillation.. The diversity of Planteray’s offerings, ranging from the Grand Reserve Rum to the XO 20th Anniversary Rum, highlights the collaborative artistry between the Master Distiller and Master Blender. Each bottle narrates a unique story, revealing subtle nuances that underscore their expertise and passion.

“We’re always drawing inspiration from our surroundings”, explains the brand. “The idea for Planteray Cut & Dry emerged from seeing the piles of coconuts sold by hawkers along the roadside. We knew that the creamy texture of coconuts would pair perfectly with our rich and indulgent rum.”

A Jamaican Heritage

As part of the esteemed Maison Ferrand family, Canerock Rum exemplifies Jamaica’s rich distilling heritage. Crafted through the expertise of two historic distilleries—Clarendon and Long Pond—Canerock Rum stands out for its exceptional pot still rums and vibrant fermentations. These distilleries lay the groundwork for Canerock Rum’s foundational excellence. The craft of Canerock Rum doesn’t stop there. The dedicated team expertly ages and blends the rum with natural ingredients like vanilla, coconut, and ginger, elevating its distinct flavour profile.

“Inspired by the abundant fruits around us and the deep distilling expertise of Jamaica, we were driven to create this truly unique Jamaican product. Canerock Rum embodies the passion and expertise of our team, both in Jamaica and beyond. The turtle symbol, inspired by the native Hawksbill Sea Turtle, signifies our commitment to authenticity and excellence”, the team at Maison Ferrand shares.

The Cuban Tradition

On the same side of the globe, Ron Matusalem, established in 1872 in Santiago de Cuba and now crafted in the Dominican Republic, retains its Cuban essence thanks to similar weather conditions and terroir. Utilising the original secret formula and adhering to the rigorous standards set by its founders 150 years ago, Ron Matusalem’s widespread presence in over 70 countries highlights its exceptional quality.

Different regions contribute a diverse array of traditional and artisanal techniques to rum production, each reflecting the unique craftsmanship of its origin. In 1872, the brand introduced the Solera aging system—a method initially employed in Sherry and brandy production—revolutionising the rum industry. Through a careful selection of premium woods and blends, Ron Matusalem believes that elegance is timeless, a legacy passed down from generation to generation.

“We have been masterfully developing this aging technique for over a century. Our mission is to pioneer the art of timeless good taste, offering our consumers a super-premium experience with a trustworthy brand that has 150 years of savoir-faire”, elaborates Lara Pac, Global Marketing and Communications Director.

An Australian Innovation

At Husk Rum, provenance is all about the people and the place. Inspired by renowned rum-producing regions like Martinique, they are innovating a style previously unseen in Australia—cane juice rum. What sets Husk Rum apart is its use of local cane varieties—specifically, four to five types chosen for their exceptional drinking qualities rather than their sugar output. These are grown on the Husk Farm, which benefits from a unique subtropical climate and environmentally conscious farming practices. Instead of relying on imported US ex-bourbon barrels, Husk Rum employs ex-Australian wine barrels for aging. Coupled with Australia’s variable weather conditions, the result is a dynamic aging process.

 “Unlike the open fermentation common in the Caribbean, we use jacketed beer fermenters for a longer, slower fermentation process. We stay true to traditional principles by finishing our rum with no added sugars or colours and using non-chill filtration to maximise flavour retention”, illustrates Harriet Messenger, Marketing Manager. This meticulous process yields a distinctive and rich flavour profile throughout the Husk Rum range.

The Future of Rum

Rum brands are continually innovating around the concept of terroir, and their forward-looking strategies promise to enhance the rum experience while shaping its future trajectory. They foresee sustained growth towards premiumisation, driven by a discerning clientele eager to explore the diverse range of rum offerings.

For instance, Ron Matusalem envisions a future that places the consumer at the centre. They aim to cater to an informed, demanding audience that values authenticity and substantive brand narratives. Their Positive Luxury Certification underscores their commitment to sustainability and high standards, aligning with the evolving expectations of their customers. Similarly, Husk Rum is committed to enhancing the reputation of Australian rum through their Australian Cultivated Rum (ACR) trademark. This initiative ensures quality and transparency, setting a benchmark for other Australian distillers and elevating the global perception of Australian rum.

From the vibrant landscapes of Barbados to the iconic distilleries of Jamaica, the storied craftsmanship of Cuban tradition, and the innovative approach of Australian cane juice rum, our extraordinary rum partners explore terroir and adapt to evolving consumer preferences. Their innovative strides are poised to lead us into an inspiring future. With a steadfast dedication to quality and authenticity, these distilleries are not only crafting spirits but also defining the essence of rum itself. Here’s to embracing a rum state of mind in the years ahead—cheers!



FROM BEHIND THE BAR: THE WORLD OF FLAVOURED GINS


ASIA PACIFIC, 8 JUNE – Gin, traditionally celebrated for its juniper-forward taste, has taken an exciting turn with the introduction of bold, vibrant flavours, capturing the attention of gin enthusiasts worldwide. By infusing an array of botanicals, fruits, herbs, spices, and even wines or vermouth, this expanded range of flavoured gins offers unique and diverse taste profiles. From fruity and floral to spicy and herbal, the flavoured gin category showcases the global distilling community’s commitment to creativity and innovation.

Roots Rosso Pinot Noir Gin

Distilleries around the globe are contributing their distinctive touches to the diverse landscape of flavoured gin. For instance, Brass Lion Distillery, under the expert guidance of Managing Director Jamie Koh, infuses Southeast Asian flavours into their creations, offering gins like Butterfly Pea and Pearl Jasmine. These gins are not mere beverages, but rich cultural narratives captured in a bottle. Similarly, Ben Leggett of Elemental Distillers harnesses local New Zealand ingredients, including organic pinot noir wine, to craft Roots Rosso Pinot Noir Gin, perfect for enhancing cocktails like the fortified Negroni. And, over in the lush landscapes of Yunnan, Fraser Kennedy from Shangri-La Youyun Distilling Company utilises extraordinary local strawberries to create The Rambler Gin’s Sunkissed Strawberry Gin.

The rising popularity of flavoured gins may also indicate a broader shift in consumer tastes, emphasising the demand for innovation and variety in the world of spirits. “Not only do they (flavoured gins) create more opportunities for innovative new cocktails, but they also cater to a variety of palates,” observes Koh. Harriet Messenger from Husk Distillery agrees on how flavoured gin provides an extra dimension to play with, which extends the creativity of the distiller and the bartender even further.  “Like with all things there are good and bad examples of flavoured gin, but when it’s done well, it’s really exciting and a true expression of craftsmanship”, states the Marketing Manager.

Brass Lion Distillery's Pearl Jasmine Gin

The Rambler Gin's Sunkissed Strawberry Gin

Creating a well-balanced, flavoured gin requires a delicate blend of skill, creativity, and science. Distillers encounter various hurdles in their quest to craft the perfect gin, with challenges ranging from perfecting the botanical mix to maintaining the natural essence of fruits for lasting freshness and vitality. “Our challenge when creating our gins, is fine-tuning the amount of each botanical and mindfully incorporating the Southeast Asian flavours we love – many of which have rich and intense flavours which could easily throw off the balance of the gin – to achieve the precise flavour profile we desire,” explains Koh.

The journey of Ink Gin‘s Bitter Orange, a creation by Husk Distillery conceived with the Negroni cocktail in mind, showcases similar hurdles. Messenger reflects, “Incorporating bitter orange was a significant challenge due to its complex, multifaceted flavour that makes it a perfect match for cocktails like Negronis and Spritzes. Our struggle was to capture the essence and bitterness of the fruit while still ensuring it tastes beautiful.”

Preserving the fruit’s freshness and vibrancy is another complex aspect for The Rambler Gin. “This led us to our small batch production method, where we rest strawberries in the new-make spirit and gently press them to extract their juice. Similar to winemaking, we then undergo a series of settling and maturation processes to ensure the fruit’s character is preserved and the gin remains balanced,” Kennedy explains.

Beginning with a clear vision of the desired flavour and aroma is foundational. Achieving the perfect texture, balance, and lasting impression on the palate is crucial, Leggett adds, highlighting the importance of setting benchmarks for success.

Maison Ferrand's Citadelle Rouge Gin

Husk Distillery's Ink Bitter Orange Gin

In crafting flavoured gins, authenticity and the integrity of flavour are of utmost importance. A shining example of this commitment is Maison Ferrand’s Citadelle Rouge, which is made using 100% natural botanicals, while embodying the exquisite French distillation methods without relying on artificial sweeteners or additives. “Every ingredient, including the juniper berries grown beside our distillery in the Cognac region, attests to our dedication to authenticity and French heritage”, Maylis Berger, Senior Brand Manager of Maison Ferrand, proudly states.

Echoing the importance of natural ingredients, Kennedy champions the use of real fruits and traditional distilling techniques. He encourages enthusiasts to explore high-quality spirits that embody true craftsmanship and authenticity, “Don’t let a bad experience with these candy sweet, artificially flavoured, and coloured drinks ruin it for you! Look out for a locally produced flavoured gin, made with real fruits and just a touch of love.”

As we witness the flourishing diversity within the flavoured gin category, it’s clear that this segment of the spirit world offers something unique for every palate, celebrating the artistry and craftsmanship that define this exciting chapter in gin’s storied history. And Proof & Company continues to proudly collaborate with these distilleries, which consistently innovate, enchant, and signify a thrilling new chapter in the long and fascinating history of gin.



PROOF & COMPANY JOINS THE FARM TO BOTTLE MOVEMENT IN NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH HUSK DISTILLERS


AUSTRALIA, 28 MARCH – As advocates of extraordinary spirits, Proof & Company proudly expands its Australian portfolio through a strategic partnership with Husk Distillers, Australia’s very first cane juice rum distillery. Nestled in the lush Northern Rivers of New South Wales near the town of Tumbulgum, Husk epitomises the “farm to bottle” ethos, making Husk an ideal fit for Proof & Company’s mission to elevate local spirits.

Husk Rum Range

As of 1st May, Proof & Company proudly assumes exclusive distributorship for Husk’s esteemed range of spirits, including their diverse and unique Australian rums and the iconic Ink Gin. Leveraging Proof & Company’s expansive network and brand-building capabilities, this partnership will capitalise on Husk’s unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation in craft spirit distillation.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Husk Distillers and cannot wait to bring their exciting portfolio to our markets across APAC. As someone who grew up in the Tweed Valley, mere steps away from the distillery, this place holds profound significance for me with fond memories of the region’s vibrant sugar cane production, it’s such a special place,” says Damian Kaehler, General Manager of Proof & Company Australasia.

“Paul and Mandy have built two amazing brands in Ink Gin and Husk Rum, both representing the very best of the local area and we can’t wait to cultivate their story in our markets. Their ethos tightly aligns with ours, with independent craft distilling and sustainability, from farm to bottle, the introduction of their portfolio into the ecoSPIRITS programme will further support this mission.”

Paul Messenger, Founder & CEO of Husk Distillers

“Starting life in a small shed at Husk Farm in 2012 it took more than 3 years before we were ready to offer our first bottles of Ink Gin for sale in June 2015. Later that year we released our first barrel of Husk rum. Since then, we’ve sold over a million bottles and now, after almost 9 years distributing our brands, we are thrilled to be partnering with Proof & Company to share our story and our liquid, enriching consumer experiences and elevating social occasions across the country. We are very impressed with the Proof & Company team and business model, and we share a passion and belief that together we can make great things happen.”

At the core of Husk Distillers’ narrative lies the pursuit for authenticity and distinction, driven by founder Paul Messenger’s transformative Caribbean expedition in 2009. Amidst the lush landscapes, the bars and distilleries of Martinique, Messenger encountered rhum agricole – a revelation that would inspire a new style of Australian rum. The raw, terroir-driven ethos of fresh cane juice rum has driven Husk on a pioneering journey in Australian rum production that continues to this day. Embracing the essence of their Northern Rivers volcanic terroir, Husk introduced a groundbreaking approach, crafting rum from freshly pressed cane juice grown on their own farm. This commitment to place, quality and authenticity is ultimately reflected in the Australian Cultivated Rum (ACR) mark, a geographic rules-based accreditation pioneered by Husk to protect and promote pure, single-estate Australian cane juice rums in a manner similar to the European system of Geographic Indicators.

In a parallel pursuit of innovation and a spirit of rebellion, Messenger’s exploration of exotic botanicals led to a serendipitous encounter with a curious flower. What followed was three years of experiments in a farm shed that culminated in the launch of the world’s first butterfly pea infused gin winning the 2016 Australian Drinks Industry Award for Best Innovation in Spirits and inspiring a colour revolution in the gin category.

Husk Distillery, Northern New South Wales

Ink Gin Range

Husk Farm

Now, as Husk Distillers joins forces with Proof & Company, a new chapter unfolds in both brands’ narrative. Together, they aspire to elevate the Australian spirits landscape, sharing Husk’s exceptional portfolio of farm-to-bottle spirits with enthusiasts across the Asia Pacific region. With Husk, Proof & Company is poised to enrich consumer experiences and cultivate a deeper appreciation for Australia’s extraordinary spirits.


ABOUT HUSK DISTILLERS

Husk Distillers is renowned as Australia’s first and foremost farm-to-bottle rum distillery and has become the country’s largest rum exporter. For over 12 years, Husk has led the charge in pioneering a distinctive style of Australian rum. Situated amidst the stunning 150-acre Messenger-Perkins family farm in the historic Tweed Valley of Northern New South Wales, Husk Farm serves as the perfect backdrop for the creation of this new style of Australian rum.

Utilising freshly harvested sugar cane grown and milled on-site, Husk Rum embodies sustainability and strives to encapsulate the unique terroir of the region within each bottle. Every year, the elements of geology, soil, water and climate culminate in a seasonal harvest of single estate sugar cane to yield a diverse selection of Australian sipping and mixing rums that are guaranteed to challenge your perception of rum.

In addition to their acclaimed rum offerings, Husk Distillers also produce the multi-award-winning Ink Gin. Ink Gin seeks to capture the essence of nature in every bottle, reflecting Husk’s commitment to excellence and innovation.

For more information, please visit Husk Distillers.

Read about Husk Rum Story.


FROM BEHIND THE BAR: THE BEST BARTENDERS HONOUR THE BEST VERMOUTH


ASIA PACIFIC, 21 MARCH – To mark World Vermouth Day (21 March), we embark on an explorative journey with some of APAC’s most accomplished bartenders and their favoured brand Mancino Vermouth; celebrated for its unparalleled quality and distinct flavour profile, this exceptional fortified wine, crafted with an artisanal blend of select botanicals, strikes a flawless balance between sweetness, bitterness, and aromatic richness.

These expert mixologists are not merely using Mancino Vermouth; they are reinventing it, infusing traditional cocktails with innovative twists that captivate and intrigue. Join us as we traverse the Asia-Pacific bar landscape, discovering the inventive ways in which Mancino Vermouth is being celebrated and transformed.

According to Sam, Head Bartender at Never Never Distillery Door, Mancino Vermouth’s adaptability is unparalleled, offering limitless possibilities for concocting bar beverages, especially in their martinis. Andrea Marseglia, Co-Owner and Bartender at Bar Teresa, agrees that Mancino Vermouth is a universally adaptable beverage suitable for almost any cocktail. Marseglia’s team takes pride in crafting a refreshing sour cocktail with Mancino Vermouth Bianco Ambrato that captures the essence of summer with its lower alcohol volume and dynamic taste profile.

Meanwhile, Simone Rossi, Director of Bars at Rosewood Hong Kong, cherishes the endless possibilities that this extraordinary spirit presents. Each bottle in the Mancino Vermouth’s range can be savoured alone, with a splash of soda, or used as a key ingredient in traditional cocktails, adding a sophisticated touch. Rossi’s personal favourite? “The Chinato with heavy rich Barbera d’asti which making it very juicy.”, he chuckles.

Never Never Distilling Co.'s Oh Beehave

Bar Teresa's Wood Sorrel Sour

DarkSide's Martini VS Vesper

The allure of Mancino Vermouth’s delicate and multifaceted layered taste profile has also captivated mixologists. The range’s masterful manipulation of its unique qualities has resulted in cocktails that transcend the boundaries of mere enjoyment. One such admirer of Mancino Vermouth is Claudio Bedini, a seasoned enthusiast at Sammy Junior. He champions its aromatic complexity and extols its adaptability in accentuating both citrus-forward aperitivos like Negroni and Mandaricano, as well as in softer, dark spirit-infused drinks such as a Manhattan or a Vieux Carre.

At the prestigious Manhattan Bar in Singapore, Head Bartender Zana Möhlmann, capitalizes on the unique taste of Mancino Vermouth in their famed Barrel Aged Manhattan, matured in fresh American oak barrels for two months. The essential ingredient of this classic cocktail, Mancino Vermouth Rosso, imparts a profound character and sophistication that elevates each sip to exquisite standards.

Sammy Junior's Mandaricano

Manhattan Bar's The Manhattan

Mancino Vermouth has gained widespread acclaim for its authentic Italian character and has become a beloved symbol of Italian culture. At Bar Conte, Mancino Vermouth is not just admired but celebrated as a journey of Italian sophistication. Bartender Enzo Tana, is particularly charmed by Mancino’s prized Premium Negroni Rinomato, a beloved staple for guests. Proprietor Raffaele Lombardi underscores the diverse appeal and lasting allure of Mancino Vermouth, which is evident in the exquisite cocktails crafted with this revered spirit. “I love it all year round,” he enthuses.

Embracing a traditional perspective on vermouth, Bartender George at Before + After stays faithful to classic vermouth cocktails like the Little Italy, while also incorporating his own unique flair. In his own words, George believes that beeswax and vermouth come together in perfect harmony to create a velvety combination that embodies the essence of Italian sophistication.

Bar Conte's P&B

Before + After's When in Rome

In the ever-evolving and diverse Asia-Pacific region, Mancino Vermouth shines bright as a prominent contributor to the fascinating amalgamation of cultures. By blending classic vermouth flavours with contemporary twists, they have sparked a cocktail revolution. Traditional flavours are expertly paired with modern charm, igniting a captivating cocktail renaissance.

At Bar Long Fong, the potency of Mancino Vermouth is exemplified through its robust and complex herbal notes. This is especially evident in their Ashy Lemon #2 cocktail, which showcases the vermouth’s perfect pairing with bold Chinese herbal undertones and the strong aroma of burnt lemon. In ChengDu’s Chinese Room, Mancino Vermouth is carefully selected for its exceptional quality and its ability to add depth to the “Don’t Stop Drinking” cocktail. This expert blend of traditional Chinese culture with Chinoiserie art creates a seamless experience that perfectly embodies the essence of Mancino Vermouth.

Giancarlo Mancino

As we observe World Vermouth Day, it’s clear that every cocktail created with this versatile spirit is a testament to the commitment to excellence and appreciation of diversity. Bartenders, with their alchemical skills, have shown that each sip can be a journey into the heart of what makes Mancino Vermouth an essential ally in the art of cocktail creation.

“I am continually inspired by the ingenuity and creativity of bartenders around the world who embrace Mancino Vermouth in their craft. Witnessing our vermouth being used in innovative ways across the globe reaffirms my belief that bartenders are the true visionaries of the cocktail world, constantly pushing the boundaries and exploring new frontiers. It is an honour to be part of their journey and to see Mancino Vermouth elevate cocktails to new heights of flavour and sophistication.”

The celebration goes beyond just acknowledging the place of Mancino Vermouth in the mixology world but is a tribute to the innovation and pursuit of crafting intriguing, delightful, and inspiring drinks.


ABOUT MANCINO VERMOUTH

Mancino Vermouth was born in 2011 in a small family-run distillery in Asti, Piedmont. The distillery, established over 60 years ago in 1957, inspired Giancarlo Mancino, owner of the brand, to compose his own vermouth using only the finest hand-picked spices and botanicals. From the moment you pick up the bottle, its classic look and feel, together with the bittersweet concoctions awaiting inside, impress upon you the timeless character that makes Mancino Vermouth an integral part of the world’s finest cocktail bars.

For more information, please visit Mancino Vermouth.


FROM BEHIND THE BAR: A BRAND STORY FROM ELEMENTAL DISTILLERS


NEW ZEALAND, 13 FEBRUARY – In the heart of New Zealand’s flourishing gin market, Roots Gin stands as a beacon of excellence. Crafted by the visionary team at Elemental Distillers, its recent accolade as the World’s Best London Dry Gin at the 2023 World Gin Awards in London speaks volumes about the brand’s unmatched expertise and unwavering commitment to the art of distillation.

We had the privilege of sitting down with Elemental Distillers’ co-founder, Ben Leggett, to delve into the philosophy behind Roots Gin.

Roots Marlborough Dry Gin, World's Best London Dry Gin 2023

Congratulations on winning the prestigious award of World’s Best London Dry Gin (2023)! How does it feel to be recognized on a global stage?

In the quiet Kiwi corner where our distillery resides, being thrust onto the global stage is nothing short of humbling. Even with our stoic distillery manager, Alex, I could tell he was absolutely stoked with the accolade.

The award was a real game-changer back home, causing a whopping 600% growth in a month. I remember hopping off the plane back from the Awards Ceremony, transiting at Dubai Airport, and my phone was going mental. Our website crashed due to a sudden surge in demand. It was a bit surreal.

Tell us about your journey from its Roots to recognition. How did the passion for spirits come about?

Growing up in this little country at the edge of the map, I was pretty anxious about not knowing where life was heading. At 17, I went on an exchange program in Argentina’s Andes Mountains—total sink-or-swim stuff. It sparked this independent streak and changed my mentality, a turning point in my life.

I pursued a diploma in tourism, worked in hospitality across France and England, and landed my first bar job through a chance meeting. This marked the beginning of my deep dive into the spirits industry. Roles as a brand ambassador, WSET instructor, and collaborations with creative agencies sharpened my focus, pushing me to take my passion seriously.

And after those 14 transformative years, I returned to my roots in Marlborough, this venture is more than a business; it’s a full-circle moment for sure.

Ben Leggett, Founder & Distiller of Elemental Distillers Ltd

Roots Rosso Pinot Noir Gin

How does Elemental Distillers’ philosophy shape the creation of its spirits?

The philosophy of Elemental Distillers is a fusion of chemistry and botanicals, intricately woven into our brand’s name. Alex and I share a deep emotional connection to our craft, focusing on the purpose behind each spirit we create. Our commitment to exceptional quality remains steadfast, as seen in our engaging blind tastings and the constant pursuit of excellence through research and development. The Roots Vintage Pinot Noir Rosso, a testament to our dedication, took 1.5 years to achieve perfection. At our core lies the pillars of sustainability and supreme craftsmanship; we won’t give our seal of approval to anything that doesn’t hit the mark.

Could you share the magic behind Roots Dry Gin and what sets it apart from other brands?

We wanted to pay homage to London Dry Gin with a distinctive twist. Our gin stands out by cranking up the botanical mass, resulting in a powerful juniper palate weight.  We’ve got six seasonal botanicals sourced directly, and each one is essential. It’s a “less is more” philosophy – take one out, and the whole thing falls flat. Freshness is key, we have great lead time for the locally sourced ingredients.

What truly sets Roots Dry Gin apart is its versatility. Rather than limiting cocktail creativity, its fuller botanical profile enhances it, with the robust flavour standing out even in intricate mixtures. This, coupled with the distinctive signature from native botanicals, establishes Roots Dry Gin as a catalyst for both classic and inventive drink recipes.

Gorse Day

Grapefruit Peel Day

Does Elemental Distillers have any sustainability initiatives or community involvement?

A hundred percent. Our community engagement events, like the Gorse Day and Grapefruit Peel Day, bring locals into the process. Picture this: 4WDs, mountains, foraging, a chef, and a still for micro distillation—an immersive experience.

In production, we efficiently circulate water, repurpose shipping containers for our distillery, and repurpose ethanol byproducts from the dairy industry. Adopting a closed-loop system, we use worm farms to compost botanicals, and we’re on the path to earning a B Corp Certification. Responsible foraging is paramount, and we collaborate with GAP-certified companies.

Our commitment extends to our eco-friendly collaboration with ecoSPIRITS, making us the sole New Zealand distillery using ecoTOTES. The Roots eco Dry Gin, packaged in organic ink, stands as a premium, sustainable offering, providing five bottles to new accounts—encouraging a blend of quality and eco-conscious choices.

What current or forecasted spirit trends excite you?

Breaking away from traditional stereotypes is a trend that resonates with me. The emergence of brands beyond the conventional spirit-producing regions is captivating. Whether it’s single malt production in Thailand, rye whisky from the Netherlands or sherry cask malt barrels in Tasmania, these examples challenge preconceived notions about the geographical origins of exceptional spirits.

Mezcal, with its commitment to preserving ancestral methods, is another area of excitement. While grappling with challenges in maintaining quality control with rudimentary production methods, brands successfully navigating this balance and celebrating their heritage inspire me. It’s particularly intriguing to observe this from the perspective of New Zealand, a country with a unique context and a relatively short history in spirits production.

Ben Leggett at Gorse Day

What advice would you offer to aspiring spirit makers?

I encourage aspiring makers to just have a go. Crafting a good gin may seem challenging, but it’s a journey worth taking. My own path started with a modest 3L still in my kitchen, an oven hob, and a garden hose.

Commit to the process – grab a notebook, distill, taste, make mistakes, and distill again. Get it wrong, get people to try your product, learn from the criticism and feedback, and keep going until you get it right. Embrace errors, share your creations for feedback, and keep going. Define your goal – know the style you aim for, match it to a cocktail, and channel your efforts effectively.

If you could drink anything anywhere in the world right now, where would it be, and what tipple?

Given the chance, I’d transport myself back to Mexico. Picture this—a hot day, a cold cerveza, a good Blanco tequila, and a taco. It’s a simple yet perfect combination that encapsulates the essence of the Latin experience. There’s something about the setting, the food, and the entire package that I haven’t been able to replace anywhere else.


ABOUT ROOTS DRY GIN

Nestled in Marlborough, Elemental Distillers operates at the heart of New Zealand’s celebrated wine region. With decades of combined experience in the global drinks industry, the brand is dedicated to crafting premium spirits and liqueurs while maintaining complete transparency in its sourcing and production processes. With a commitment to local sourcing, many of their ingredients come directly from New Zealand, ranging from wild and organic to native and family-owned farms.

ROOTS Dry Gin, the brand’s flagship product, is meticulously crafted entirely onsite at their bespoke container distillery. Its crisp and robust ‘London Dry’ style has earned it acclaim, underscoring Elemental Distillers’ dedication to excellence and innovation in the craft spirits industry. Among their exceptional offerings is Roots Gin, a diverse range that includes the award-winning Roots Marlborough Dry Gin, acclaimed as the World’s Best London Dry Gin at the World Gin Awards, and their latest creation, Roots Rosso Pinot Noir Gin.

For more information, please visit Elemental Distillers.


RAISING THE BAR IN 2024

Thoughts From The Proof & Company Leadership Team

By Vienna Thompson, Chief Marketing Officer

ASIA PACIFIC, 30 JANUARY – The door has swung wide open to the new year, and a palpable (and re-charged) energy infuses our collective spirit with vision and purpose. With a fresh lens, we stand on the precipice of boundless possibilities, fuelled by a determination to push boundaries and exceed expectations… the bar is high!

Vienna Thompson, Chief Marketing Officer of Asia Pacific

And as the brand guardian of Proof & Company, my personal drive is to guide our business towards a future where authenticity, creativity, innovation, and connection converge to elevate the Proof & Company brand AND take our extraordinary partner brands to new heights. 2024 holds the promise of not just growth, but the opportunity to leave a f(l)avourable mark on the hearts and palates of our customers, and we are excited to do just that!

In the spirit of collective vision, I sat down with other business leaders to find out their thoughts on the year ahead, asking just 4 simple questions; 3 words to describe how you’re entering 2024, what excites you about the year ahead, any market insights, and your strategic priorities or must wins for the year?

Damian Kaehler, General Manager of Australasia

Wiser, Galvanised, Up-Beat

Heading into 2024, I reflect on the past tumultuous four to five years with a positive outlook as the dust begins to settle. Our strategic focus shifts towards our people & talent development, seizing engaging opportunities, and flourishing in new business & brand pursuits. Despite contracting markets, we aim to elevate our position by nurturing local brands, collaborating with regional producers, and curating a portfolio featuring highly credible independent world-class brands. In 2024, Proof will continue to excel in on-trade engagements, foster the bartender community, and execute purposeful industry events.

Acknowledging the significant increase in business costs, compounded by Australian excise and consumer wallet contractions, we anticipate a moderate growth rate. However, with the Australian economy’s tax reform plan starting on July 1, supporting consumer spending and alleviating inflation, the latter half of the year holds promise. This shift is expected to see increased customer engagement, emphasis on premium spend, and a preference for quality products from brands in the right hands. To fortify our position, we emphasize a robust strategy addressing rising logistics and supply costs, focusing on premium retail and on-trade channels and building out exciting marketing programs, ensuring our brands are not only available but prominently visible.

Brandon Grusd, General Manager of Southeast Asia

Inspired, Energised, Focussed

I’m particularly motivated about a 2024 people development and training plan and also leading enhanced knowledge across the wider business through education programming. As the GM of our home market, I am proud of our on-trade connections and excited to take it even further by nurturing purposeful partnerships to elevate existing and new bar offerings and expanding our presence with key event partners like the Singapore Cocktail Festival and Formula One.

The city state’s reputation as a destination for exceptional drinking and dining experiences continues to flourish, shaping a dynamic and vibrant spirits scene. Amidst buoyant tourism, bars are now trying to differentiate themselves by embracing innovative and more specialised concepts, not limited to high-end establishments. Interestingly, at a local level, we are seeing an increasing number of consumers opting to enjoy premium spirits (and cocktails) at home, driving retail and e-commerce growth. And a new generational approach to drinking is evolving, fostering experimentation and smarter choices. Agave and dark spirits witness a notable rise in popularity.

In alignment with what I’m excited about, my strategic priorities encompass thorough education for our team through tools like WSET and the building of a dedicated Proof & Company learning hub in partnership with Allara Global. We’re committed to assisting bars in growing, evolving, and specializing, offering best-in-class brands and services. Continual review and portfolio enhancements ensure we stay at the forefront of the market, embedding exceptional bartender brands and purpose-built drinks. Our goal is to own the late-night scene, injecting new energy into our business for sustained growth and innovation.

Julia Xiang, General Manager of Greater China

Grounded, Progression, Committed

The Year of the Dragon presents a wealth of opportunity and I’m excited to charge a growing team with courageously shaking things up this year. We will be embedding new talent with extensive industry experience and networks poised to elevate our position within the market, and executing flagship campaigns with major partners to show our commitment to innovation and market expansion. Notably, The Rambler Gin, a new entrant, is set to embark on an ambitious promotional journey in 2024, featuring regional competitions, nationwide in-store activations, and an exclusive trade incentive.

While we anticipate an economic upturn in the latter half of 2024, I recognize the challenges ahead, particularly in navigating consumer spending cutbacks within the Food and Beverage (F&B) sector. Geopolitical disruptions and inflationary pressures are tempering short-term growth expectations in the premium/craft spirits segment. However, the resilient Chinese middle class remains a driving force, propelling demand for premium spirits and favouring well-established affordable luxury brands.

In steering our course, my priorities for the year include adeptly identifying trends, embracing customer-centric strategies, and effective risk mitigation. With an unwavering focus on innovation and a proactive approach to change management, we aim to not only distinguish lasting trends from mere hype but also seize emerging opportunities in the ever-evolving spirits market.

Adrian Chung, General Manager of Hong Kong

Confident, Bright-Eyed, Ready

There are many exciting prospects for 2024 with key areas of focus including ambitious growth for our local brand partner, engaging and community-led brand activity, and reinforcing our position as the premier partner in the market through exceptional service, trust, and product quality. We’ll be expanding our portfolio with new brands to better serve our clients and continue our commitment to growth and excellence in sustainability with the ecoSPIRITS technology.

Hong Kong at a local level is fast-paced and ever-changing however international travel has been and continues slowly to resume which naturally affects the busyness of our bar scene. Despite being more stable there is economic and political uncertainty ahead. Low-ABV/RTD trends are losing momentum, while Agave grows in the wave of interest globally. Drinking habits are shifting to earlier hours, weekends, and health-conscious choices, reflecting the evolving landscape in our dynamic city.

Proof & Company Hong Kong’s key strategy will be to defend our foothold after two years of gaining great market share, this is particularly important with the rebound of investment from the likes of Pernod Ricard & Diageo looking to regain their position. Our mission is to consistently upgrade and fortify our portfolio, offering the best value to cocktail bars with the most credible brands. As trailblazers, our duty is to lead change, and stay present and supportive, reaffirming our position as the best in the industry.

Bobby Carey, Acting Head for Proof Creative

Dynamic, Distinguished, Dedicated

This year is poised to be a landmark in The Proof Creative journey, particularly with the initiation of several bespoke projects in Australia such as QT Parramatta. The aspect that excites me most is the potential to integrate Australian hospitality’s unique charm and ethos into our global narrative. Australia’s vibrant culinary scene, renowned for its diverse influences and commitment to quality, aligns perfectly with our philosophy. Venturing deeper into this region, alongside new markets such as the Middle East & Europe allows us to explore new territories in taste and service, setting a stage for a cultural exchange that enriches both our brand and the Global hospitality landscape.

Our strategy for the year is centred around three key pillars: diversification, localisation, and people development. Diversification involves expanding our service offerings, not just geographically but also in the range of experiences we provide. Localisation focuses on tailoring our services to meet the unique cultural and market needs of each new region we enter. Lastly, investing in our people – their training, development, and well-being – is crucial. Our team’s growth is directly proportional to our success, making this a top priority.

For me, the defining ‘must-win’ this year is elevating Proof Creative’s global presence. Achieving recognition as a leader in the hospitality consultancy space on an international scale is paramount. This entails not just expanding our footprint but also consistently delivering exceptional, innovative services that resonate across different markets and cultures, thereby solidifying our reputation as a top-tier global player.

We hope this was an insightful read.

Stay tuned for exciting news, movements, and updates from Proof & Company, advocates of extraordinary spirits.



PROOF & COMPANY PRESENTS 28 HONGKONG STREET’S NEW GENERAL MANAGER


SINGAPORE, 12 DECEMBER – In the ever-evolving tapestry of Singapore’s vibrant cocktail scene, 28 HongKong Street stands as a hallowed institution, a crucible that shapes the industry’s trailblazers. The latest torchbearer to step into the limelight is none other than the dynamic Lukas Kaufmann, assuming the mantle of General Manager. A move that promises not only to uphold the cherished tradition of ‘late nights and nice ice’ but to chart a thrilling course for this iconic watering hole.

Paul Broadbent, CEO of Proof & Company, echoes the sentiments of anticipation, “We have long celebrated that 28 HongKong Street is a breeding ground for talent – you don’t have to look hard to see 28 HongKong Street alumni doing great things in the industry both near and afar. Today we are proud to continue this legacy and announce that the stewardship of 28 HongKong Street will be under the leadership of Lukas Kaufmann – we’re excited to see how he continues to evolve this beloved late-night haunt.”

We sat down with the man himself and delved into Kaufmann’s world to unravel the excitement and strategies that accompany his role as the new maestro of 28 HongKong Street.

Congratulations on your role! What excites you about taking on the GM role?

Undoubtedly, leading the iconic 28 HongKong Street as the General Manager is an opportunity that fills me with excitement. It’s a chance to not only take on a new role but to shape the future of this institution, cementing its legacy as a leader in the industry. I’m thrilled at the prospect of leading a team that embodies the values of the establishment, which has become synonymous with the unparalleled experience that we offer.

With several years under your belt at 28 HongKong Street, what standout memory defines your journey?

Having spent several years at 28 HongKong Street, I can confidently say that my journey has been nothing short of spectacular. As a senior bartender and later, a bar captain, I have had the privilege of crafting cocktails and orchestrating operations, all of which have been integral in weaving a tapestry of memories. My experience at this illustrious institution has been multifaceted, encompassing both the artistry of mixology and the intricacies of management.

However, what truly makes my journey unforgettable are the amazing people I’ve met along the way. Collaborating with exceptionally talented individuals who have gone on to achieve remarkable success has been an incredible source of inspiration, and I am grateful to count them as friends.

How do you envision propelling the iconic 28 HongKong Street’s concept of “late nights and nice ice”, teasing us with some strategies or initiatives you have in store?

As someone who has worked across various roles at 28 HongKong Street, I’ve learned that innovation, adaptability, and a deep understanding of our patrons are crucial for success. Now, with the dynamic and talented team at 28, I am enthusiastic about sharing these insights.

My commitment remains unwavering—to meticulously preserve and advance this legacy, positioning 28 HongKong Street as one of Singapore’s well-loved cocktail bars on the global stage. As an institution that has made an indelible mark on the cocktail landscape for over a decade, we must continue to evolve to meet the ever-changing preferences of our patrons. Our global recognition and numerous accolades attest to our prominence in the industry, and we are committed to elevating standards, delivering unforgettable experiences, and crafting impeccable drinks. We will also focus on nurturing our distinctive culture and fostering emerging talents for ongoing success.

In the spirit of getting to know you better, if you had to encapsulate yourself in just three words, what would they be?

While it’s undoubtedly a challenge to encapsulate who I am in just three words, I’d like to think that those who know me would describe me as energetic, loyal, and compassionate. I guess I’m just someone who values genuine connections, thrives on creativity, and embraces the joy of creating memorable experiences.

Whether it’s shaking up a new cocktail concoction, fostering a warm and inviting atmosphere at 28 HongKong Street, or simply engaging in heartfelt conversations with patrons and team members alike, I aim to bring a touch of authenticity and positivity to every aspect of what we do. After all, the magic of a great cocktail is not just in the mix but in the shared moments and stories it inspires.

As we approach the end of 2023, can you give us a glimpse into the exciting events and plans you have in store to wrap up the year at our beloved late-night haunt?

As we bid farewell to 2023, we’re gearing up for a grand finale. Expect a series of standout events, including Thanksgiving, Naughty Orphan Christmas, and the 28 New Year’s Eve Party, among others. It’s our way of closing the year with a bang and setting the stage for an even more spectacular 2024.

Stay updated with our social media and newsletter for all the cool happenings. Looking forward to welcoming everyone to 28HKS for some late nights, nice ice, and perhaps a few surprises along the way! Cheers!



PROOF & COMPANY WELCOMES RON MATUSALEM RUM TO IT’S PORTFOLIO OF EXTRAORDINARY SPIRITS


ASIA PACIFIC, 5 OCTOBER – Proof & Company is proud to announce the latest addition to its portfolio of premium craft spirit brands: Ron Matusalem, ‘pioneers in the art of timeless good taste’. This exciting partnership, which begins with exclusive distribution in the Singapore market, reflects Proof & Company’s commitment to offering the bar industry, retail, and other channel partners the finest spirits from around the world.

Ron Matusalem Gran Reserve 15 Years Old

Founded in 1872 in Santiago de Cuba, Ron Matusalem Rum boasts a remarkable 150-year history of rum-making excellence. As a family-owned business now in its fifth generation, the brand has preserved its legacy of craftsmanship, innovation, and quality for over a century.

One of the secrets behind Ron Matusalem’s exceptional flavour is its unique Solera aging process, derived from a Spanish tradition of the making of Sherry wines and brandy. This process imparts a softness and depth of flavour that sets the brand apart, making it a preferred choice amongst those who appreciate the finer qualities of rum in more than 70 countries.

In recognition of its exceptional quality, Ron Matusalem received prestigious accolades at the Drinks International Awards 2023, ranking #4 in the Top Trending Rum category and #8 in the Bestselling Rum category.

Furthermore, Ron Matusalem Rum is delighted to support the new golden age in cocktails by partnering with The World’s 50 Best Bars as an Official Sponsor. This collaboration supports Ron Matusalem Rum’s commitment to elevating cocktail culture and celebrating the artistry of mixology.

“We are thrilled to introduce Ron Matusalem Rum to our portfolio,” said Paul Broadbent, CEO of Proof & Company. “Ron Matusalem Rum’s storied heritage, family legacy, and dedication to innovation perfectly complements our daily pursuit to provide our customers with extraordinary spirits.”

Ron Matusalem Gran Reserve 15 Years Old

Yoze Torres, Global CEO of Ron Matusalem, confirms: “Celebrating 150 years of history as an independent family brand with presence in over 70 countries means being at the forefront, leading the way in such an exciting segment as rum, and with the clear objective of offering products of the highest quality. To achieve this position of leadership, it is crucial to have strategic partners. In this context, we are very pleased to announce our collaboration with Proof and Company in Singapore, which aims to enhance our closeness to our consumers and influencers.”



JULIA XIANG APPOINTED AS GENERAL MANAGER, PROOF & COMPANY GREATER CHINA


CHINA, 19 SEPTEMBER – Proof & Company proudly announces the appointment of Julia Xiang as the new General Manager of Greater China. Julia brings a wealth of experience, a proven ability to deliver outstanding business results, and a strategic vision that aligns seamlessly with our Proof & Company business objectives. Her dynamic leadership and deep industry knowledge are set to propel this market to new heights.

In her role, Julia will report to Paul Broadbent, Chief Executive Officer, managing a growing local team and responsible for executing an aggressive multi-year business plan to expand Proof & Company’s regional presence.

Paul Broadbent

“Since joining the business as the General Manager of our second largest market China, Julia Xiang has had an immediate impact on driving our continued growth ambitions in this important region. Her vast experience in liquor and distribution in Asia, coupled with her exceptional leadership qualities means our business there is in a great position to drive the craft spirits category growth in China in the coming years.”

In previous roles, most recently serving on the senior leadership team at Coravin Inc. and Campari Group, Julia was responsible for driving growth in volume and value across the key categories of her territory. During this tenure, Julia adeptly navigated significant challenges posed by the pandemic and successfully steered her teams towards accelerated online sales strategies. Her commitment to exceeding annual budgets and key metrics while nurturing new channel sales leads will undoubtedly catalyse sustainable growth for the region.

Julia Xiang

“I am excited to be joining such a passionate, innovative family that enables our clients and spirits lovers to extend the ways they serve, enjoy and explore craft spirits.  In the past few weeks, I have been developing a team where every individual could reach their full potential through innovative and inclusive leadership, meanwhile exploring new brands and portfolio to our customers with more robust category strategies in line with local market trends.

I look forward to guiding Proof & Company China through this next phase of aggressive growth in APAC. By strengthening our partnerships with National Key Accounts, including international hotel groups, on-trade chains, catering groups, and more, we aim to drive positive change and foster growth. Our commitment to excellence and a customer-centric approach will be at the forefront of our strategy.”



PROOF & COMPANY PRESENTS 28 HONGKONG STREET’S NEW HEAD BARTENDER


SINGAPORE, 11 SEPTEMBER – 28 HongKong Street has been on an incredible journey, climbing from #49 to an impressive #24 in the latest Asia’s 50 Best Bars Awards. Adding a dash of excitement to this beloved local hotspot, Proof & Company is thrilled to introduce its newest head bartender, Tamaryn Cooper. As the newest member of the family, Tamaryn brings her unique flair and infectious enthusiasm to this renowned establishment.

Amidst the clinking glasses and the buzz of patrons, we sat down with Tamaryn to talk about her journey, next steps, and the recent recognition that has sent waves of excitement through the bar.

Let’s start by getting to know you a little better. Could you tell us more about yourself and your journey in the world of mixology?

I’m a unique blend myself – half Thai and half British, and I spent my formative years in Indonesia. My journey in the industry began eight years ago, and it’s taken me from the United Kingdom to Thailand and now Singapore.

Over the last four years, I’ve been sharpening my bartending skills and creativity. I’ve been fortunate to work in diverse settings, soaking up different cultures and environments, including over 20 guest shifts that added spice to my experiences. My most recent gig was as Head Bartender & Manager at Asia Today in bustling Bangkok, Thailand.

Now, I’m pumped to be part of 28 HongKong Street, adding my passion and expertise to this respected spot. Oh, and my friends always tease me for my go-to catchphrase, ‘let’s get this bread.'”

Can you share with us what it’s been like for you since starting at 28 HongKong Street?

Life at 28 HongKong Street has been nothing short of rewarding. The dynamic bar environment, mingling with a diverse crowd of industry pros and guests, and soaking in Singapore’s rich cultural tapestry have been a wellspring of inspiration for crafting drinks.

A typical day often starts early, managing orders and coordinating with suppliers to ensure we have all we need. As evening approaches, it’s full steam ahead, preparing for the exciting moments of service. After the hustle and bustle, our team gathers for some post-service camaraderie during clean-up. Whether we’re still at work or enjoying some drinks together outside, these moments are invaluable.

I was fortunate enough to join the team during the Asia’s 50 Best Bars Award ceremony, which was a particularly exciting time. Our remarkable climb in the rankings from the previous year is truly significant. Receiving praise and recognition from friends and industry pros is humbling and incredibly motivating. This isn’t merely a moment of pride; it’s a motivator that inspires all of us to set our sights higher.

It’s clear that the team plays a pivotal role in growth. Can you tell us more about how the team contributes to the overall atmosphere at the bar?

Absolutely, the team is at the heart of it all, setting the tone for our service. Guests don’t just come for drinks; they come for hospitality and an experience. It starts with us, the folks behind the bar.

We’re dedicated to ensuring that every guest leaves not just with a great drink but also with wonderful memories of their time at 28 Hong Kong Street. Our shared commitment to excellence and passion for hospitality defines our venue and keeps guests coming back for more. We’re the ones who create that welcoming, comfortable, and fun atmosphere.

What excites you the most about your role as the new Head Bartender?

Through my journey, I’ve met incredible people from all corners of the world. Their guidance and support have shaped my path. As the Head Bartender, I’m committed to creating a work environment where everyone feels supported and inspired to do their best. I want to be a mentor and a positive influence on our tight-knit team.

Beyond just a job, I see 28 HongKong Street as a place for learning and skill development, a platform to build a fulfilling career. Personally, I’m eager to see the growth of our young and energetic team. We’ve got exciting events and guest shifts lined up in the coming months. And the new menu? Well, that’s a collective effort we’re all enthusiastic about. Stay tuned to our socials for more updates!