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The Aussie company taking on the soaring tequila market



The pandemic has seen us all drink a lot more tequila. In fact the market has increased by 30 per cent and is rapidly growing. Now one Aussie company is expanding into Queensland, to take on the soaring tequila market.

In the dry fields of tropical North Queensland, inland from the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef – a massive project is underway to transform Australia’s spirits industry.

Seb Reaburn is the Master Distiller with Top Shelf International.

“The agave a project is one great big experiment right now to the level that no one has grown it in this part of dry tropical Queensland and no one has, other than a few experiments, no one has distilled it,” Seb says.

Established in 2014, Top Shelf International (TSI) is an ASX-listed Australian spirits company with global ambitions. it sees the soaring tequila market as a leap forward.

Their current brands include NED Australian Whisky and Grainshaker Hand Made Australian Vodka.

Seb Reaburn is the Master Distiller with Top Shelf International.

Proserpine in the heart of North Queensland

The project is happening at Prosepine, near the famous Airlie Beach. Known as a haven for backpackers. For over a century Australians have produced world class wines – but the spirits industry has recently had a massive transformation, mostly thanks to the pandemic.

Drew Fairchild is the Founder and Managing Director of Top Shelf International.

“I think Covid has accelerated a lot of trends at home cocktail culture people preparing to mix things. The younger generation have a global mindset and are wanting to experiment,” Drew says.

The management and distillers of the Top Shelf International Agave farm

That experiment brought them to an abandoned eggplant farm, which will soon be home to a million agave plants as far as the eye can see. They plan to harvest 250,000 plants a year.

“I’ve spent my career in the liquor industry and through there into distilling but there were no plants. Nothing was growing that you could distil so it’s a privilege,” Seb says.

But you can’t actually call it tequila

“A lot of people come to tequila as a challenge shot. They sort of go and have one sort of attitude and culture which is really not what we are trying to do we are trying to make a top shelf.

“If you look at the wine industry, there’s a lot of wine that is a really reasonably priced. And there’s a lot of exceptional Australian wine which is an expression of place,” Seb says.

The agave plant in north Queensland

And that has led to another experiment – what to call this agave spirit. A problem Drew Fairchild is trying to fix.

“The brand strategy has to navigate that. But we think it presents an opportunity to create a category of one,” Drew says.

“When you look at the spirits industry in Australia it’s an $11 billion industry and 60% of that is dark spirit’s scotch and bourbon. So clearly it’s started around whiskey and talking to that market but also a scale.

Vodka is the single largest outside of dark spirits. So again, the opportunity to play in that space within Australian vodka. When we looked at tequila, it was the fastest growing spirit in the world,” Drew says.

Plans for the agave bar and customer facing building.

The company is working with local tourism authorities in tropical North Queensland to create a great destination for tourists, especially from the southern states.

Top Shelf has plans to build a massive distillery and agave spirits bar on the property too.

Top Shelf International highlights

Top Shelf Intentional highlights

But in the end, it all comes down to taste.

Drew says it’s not about replicating the taste of Mexican tequila.

“We’re In the process of finalising brand. And Australian agave spirit, in many ways, when you’re talking about introducing brands competing at scale against internationals, which led the way in terms of what does an Australian whiskey taste like? We are not seeking to copy scotch or bourbon.

“We are comfortable in our own skin in terms of defining the taste profile,” Drew says.

Agave plants use the light from the moon to grow overnight

So what’s the best mixing drink to go with Agave spirit? Seb has a rather expensive answer.

“Tequila and orange is probably a little retro nowadays. But when someone else is paying, honestly margaritas topped with champagne can’t be beaten. It’s lovely and extravagant and delicious.”

Ahron Young travelled to North Queensland as a guest of Top Shelf International.

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Disney trumps DeSantis with legal loophole



Disney has outplayed Ron DeSantis by leaning on a decades-old royal clause

In February, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis moved to take over Disney World’s governing body.

It was all in retaliation to the company’s public stance against the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

But now, new reports suggest this whole plan may have backfired.

Members of the new governor-appointed board argue the previous members stripped the board of its power before they left.

It was all part of an agreement, which was approved a day before DeSantis assumed more control of the land around Disney’s theme park.

Disney is leaning on a property law which essentially makes the company the government of the area.

New board member Ron Peri says the board has lost the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and basic infrastructure.

For just under six decades, Disney has operated its expansive theme park and resort in Florida under a specially designated district.

A board oversaw the area and had free reign of development processes.

Disney also had the authority to appoint district board members.

But this special status came under threat when Disney clashed with DeSantis and his “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Florida lawmakers the passed a bill in February to end Disney’s self-governing status and give the governor the authority to appoint new board members to the district.

DeSantis appointed five supervisors, including a parents’ rights activist and three Republican donors.

But the new supervisors say previous board members entered an agreement before they left their positions – effectively stripping them of any powers. #trending #featured

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The Power of Play



Let’s take a look at the history of video games and the exciting future of the gaming industry.

From classic arcade games to the latest consoles and online multiplayer experiences, gamers have been lining up for decades to get their hands on the hottest games.

But what goes on behind the scenes to create these immersive worlds? The Power of Play takes you behind the curtain to explore the hard work and dedication of game developers as they bring these virtual experiences to life.

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Avoiding mass company layoffs



What alternatives can companies implement, other than just sacking employees, to save something in the short-term?

Let me give you some numbers: Meta, 18,000; Amazon, 9,000; Disney, 7,000.

No, that isn’t the amount of daily subscribers joining the respective platforms, but the amount of job cuts each company has recently announced.

As sexy as that headline ISN’T – it’s a fact of reality that after spending too much during the pandemic, the financial books need to be reined in.

And yes, this may look good to investors in the short-term, but what does it do for the employee – and company morale – going forward?

Are there other alternatives that may satisfy all parties involved?

Digital transformation expert Kamales Lardi discusses the matter.

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