How Scapegrace Gin Beat the Best in the World
Late last year news emerged that Scapegrace, a New Zealand gin had won the highest accolade in the global industry: best London dry gin at the global International Wine and Spirits Competition.
It was a great win to get after a big run and a lot of change. The gin had recently changed its name from Rogue Society to Scapegrace, a huge undertaking and big risk in the name of the bigger game of making it overseas.
And making it they are, beating more than 600 other gins to take out that supreme award. That 600 number represents a 50 per cent increase in entrants from the year before, part of the huge wave of growth in gin that the Scapegrace guys timed very well, having started in 2014.
How do you go from a standing start in four years to the top? How do you become the top selling super premium gin in New Zealand in even shorter time? And how do you add around 40 countries and heaps of states in the US while changing your name? To talk the journey, co-founders Daniel Mclaughlin and Mark Neal spoke with Simon Pound, The Spinoff’s Business is Boring podcast host.
“We started seven years ago. Mark is actually my brother-in-law so [and] we used to get together a lot and drink gin from all around the world. We came to the realisation that you could walk into a local liquor store and there’d be a lot of gins from the likes of the UK, Europe and the US, but there wasn’t anything that represented New Zealand. We thought with New Zealand being this clean and pure environment, there was an opportunity to explore a premium New Zealand gin.
“We spent about 2-3 years working on the product that we launched in February 2014 and we’ve been running ever since.
“It was a number of years before we really cracked that [becoming the top-selling premium gin in New Zealand]. We started off from day one and it was myself and Mark slinging cases out of a small office in Grey Lynn; it was just the two of us. Mark would maybe look after sales and I would look after the commercial side of things and we were basically shoving cases out the office door. We built around 100 odd bars as customers and maybe 30 to 40 retailers, and after about six months we got our first distributor online, which was Hancocks Wine Beer and Spirits Merchants. They basically took us from a small distribution base to a really large distribution base throughout the country. We ranged in a lot of the best bars and restaurants and hotels and pretty much most liquor stores, and that allowed us to take a step back and work on the brand.”
Original article by Simon Pound, The Spinoff, April 13, 2019.