Page 29 - Food&Drink magazine November-December 2022
P. 29

                For Feels Botanical, it’s all in the name. Based on ‘feels’, Vanderfield-Kramer says the Eau De Vie adds structure to the liquid, while botanicals added flavour and emulated emotions.
“We did a lot of work figuring out how to create a product that played to certain moods and feelings,” he says.
In the middle of a lengthy discovery and R&D process, a boost of confidence came by way of former SouthTrade International joint partner Tony Stubley, now an official advisor and investor in the company.
On a visit to Stubley, Vanderfield-Kramer introduced him to the ideas and initial workings behind what would become Feels Botanical. Stubley wanted in on the project.
“That was the moment we knew we were onto something. If someone like Tony, with over 40 years of experience thinks we’re going in the right direction, then we knew we had something special,” says Vanderfield-Kramer.
“We had 20 to 30 botanicals options and ideas for each product, and whittled it down to about five to 10,” Vanderfield- Kramer says.
While working from home during Covid in 2020, Vanderfield-Kramer had each individual botanical steeped in Eau De Vie spirit on his dining room table for testing.
“I started blending and working out the flavours, and then I would take it to people I knew in the industry, I’d even take it to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and everyone in between to taste test blends,” Vanderfield-Kramer says.
He explains that once they got to a stage where they were happy with the flavours, they fine-tuned each blend to three botanicals for each one, wanting customers to be able to taste each of them in a glass.
Finding a botanicals supplier came hand-in-hand with finding an appropriate distiller. Leaning on his industry connections, the pair applied the brand’s ethics when pairing with a distiller.
Vanderfield-Kramer says, “We
were looking for a distillery that understood our vision and where we were going; sustainability, ethics, and environmental factors are also part of the brand that factored into the decision.”
They landed on a distillery in the Adelaide Hills, one of a select few B-Corp certified operations in the country that also had the ability to source botanicals, and ensure they were sustainably sourced, native, and natural.
“The process was a real combination of both wanting to create a unique product with a unique flavour proposition that would also work in unique formats and occasions,” he says.
October 2022 arrived and both consumer tests and family feedback were positive. While Vanderfield-Kramer and Pillemer were liaising with the distillery, exchanging tasting notes and product development, budgets, pack design, and bottles were all being planned in the background.
“We got to October and knew we were happy with the products. So, we pulled the trigger and went into our first production run, launching with four variations: Bask, Vivify, Rouse, and Revel.”
Feels Botanical Bask is eau de vie distilled with Hemp, Quandong & Kakadu Plum; Vivify features Turmeric, Coconut & Ginger; Rouse features Rose, Horny Goat Weed & Davidson Plum; and Revel is
distilled with Ginseng, Coffee & Illawarra Plum.
Following the release of its first batch, the backing of some impressive independent stockists, and collaborations with well-known brands such as Capi, Regal Rogue, and Brookie’s Gin, the pair remains focused on establishing the brand both locally and in the global market.
“There’s so much to the eau de vie category that can be played on and developed, while delivering quality, flavour, and differentiation. For me, that’s what is really exciting,” says Vanderfield-Kramer.
After the pandemic years, Vanderfield-Kramer says the team are working on building Feels’ Australian presence, and consumer awareness of the brand and eau de vie. ✷
OPPOSITE & TOP RIGHT: The eau de vie blends are designed to give drinkers all the feels.
TOP LEFT: The founders had access to some of the best vineyards in Australia.
ABOVE: Founders Blake Vanderfield-Kramer and Steve Pillemer.
BELOW: Vanderfield-Kramer has worked in spirit creation for the last 13 years. | November-December 2022 | Food&Drink business | 29

   27   28   29   30   31