Gin win: McQueen wants to conquer Australia with its unique colour-changing innovation

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish distillery McQueen Gin is looking to capture the Australian gin market starting with its unique blue-to-pink colour-changing product. ©McQueen Gin
Scottish distillery McQueen Gin is looking to capture the Australian gin market starting with its unique blue-to-pink colour-changing product. ©McQueen Gin

Related tags: Gin, Colours, Australia

Scottish distillery McQueen Gin is looking to capture the Australian gin market starting with its unique blue-to-pink colour-changing product.

According to the firm’s Co-Founder and Managing Director Dale McQueen, their first shipment of colour-changing gin sold out within two days when it reached Australia.

“We shipped 4,500 bottles of our colour-changing gin to Aldi Australia last year – it took seven weeks to reach Sydney, and sold out in two days,”​ McQueen told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“We’re now preparing another 6,500 bottles to go over. Those are going on sale in Sydney on March 25 2020, and we really expect similar results for this batch too.”

The colour-changing gin is made using the butterfly pea flower. McQueen said he uses a ‘concentrated liquid variation’​ in the product, which he took 2.5 days to produce after the idea was first conceived.

“Basically the gin is first made with forest fruits – we distill fruits such as blackberries, blackcurrants, raspberries with the usual juniper and coriander, then add the butterfly pea liquid post-distillation,”​ he explained.

“It will be blue at first, and turns pink when tonic is added to it, providing a great deal of differentiation from regular products.”

Given the gin’s phenomenal success, McQueen is crossing his fingers hoping for a regular supply contract with Aldi Australia.

“We work closely with Aldi Scotland and think the same could be so for Australia,”​ he said.

“Our first contract with Aldi Scotland was for 2,500 bottles per month. That sold out in the first week, and since then the reality is we’ve been looking at more like 4,200 bottles per week.

“They could probably sell five times more than this, which is the current limit we can make – the first few weeks people were forming queues and they had to limit sales to two bottles per customer.”

The colour-changing gin retails at A$49.99 (US$32.79) for a 700 ml bottle in Aldi Australia.

Standing out from the crowd

McQueen describes his distillery, which he started with his wife Vicky in 2016, as the ‘original gin mavericks’, referring to their focus on innovation, uniqueness and standing out from the crowd when making their gins.

“We may not be the first to ever make a colour-changing gin, but we are the first to make it available to the mass market at an available price, which is why it has been so popular,”​ he said.

“In addition, we also have several world-first flavours of gin, for example Smoky Chilli, Sweet Citrus, Mocha and Chocolate Mint – importantly, all of these flavours are completely distilled and no extra flavours were added after.

“From the very beginning, our aim was to differentiate ourselves from the already congested gin market, and being innovative and different is our way of doing this.”

Proactive vs reactive

McQueen added that at present, the firm is taking a more reactive approach to selling outside of the UK, mostly due to its current business model.

“We mostly look to address and satisfy demand where it appears, such as in Australia, but are not so much looking at creating demand or new markets just yet. So for now we’re looking at building a bigger business in Australia, and possibly finding a local manufacturing partner there, from which a natural extension may be New Zealand,”​ he said.

“If we do look to building new markets though, somewhere like Singapore might be nice.”

Adding that McQueen Gin’s usual clientele are the more adventurous kind who ‘don’t want the boring dry gin style’​, he said that the firm had ‘many more inventions to come’​.

“We actually develop 200 to 250 types of gin every year, just that not all of them are brought to market for various reasons – we want to feed the right product into the market at the right time,”​ McQueen said.

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