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The Aussie company taking on the soaring tequila market

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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.

https://www2.asx.com.au/markets/company/tsi

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Business

Snapchat is growing faster than it has in years

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Snapchat announces new climate plan

Snapchat’s parent company has continued to see record growth – and profit – of the platform

Just a couple of years ago, there were concerns that Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, wouldn’t survive as a standalone company, but the social media platform is growing faster than it has since 2017.

The camera-based messaging app stated it added 13 million daily users during the second quarter of this year – a 23 percent increase from the same time a year ago.

That means 293 million people use Snapchat every day around the world, up from 173 million this time four years ago.

Snapchat’s revenue has also soared 116 percent to $982 million – making it a faster growing business than Twitter or Facebook

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has said he expects the app’s user base to actually grow faster as pandemic lockdowns end, since Snapchat is designed to be used out and about with friends.

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Battle of the Crown: Star Entertainment ditches bid

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Australia’s Star Entertainment Group has ditched a bid to merge with Crown Resorts

In the latest showdown in the battle for the Aussie Casinos – Star proposed a merger bid back in May worth $12 billion.

Star Entertainment operates casinos in Sydney, Gold Coast, and Brisbane while Crown operates venues in Melbourne and Perth, while a built casino in Sydney hasn’t been granted permission to open.

The Star merger with Crown would have created an Australian gaming and hospitality giant with a total market value of $12 billion AUD.

Crown shares dive following Star’s announcement

Shares fell as much as 4.2% in early trading today, cleaving its market value to $6.7 billion.

Star, which is best known for its casino in Sydney, said it “remains open to exploring potential value-enhancing opportunities with Crown,” though engagement with Crown on the merger plan had been “limited.” It said it will closely monitor the outcome of the Melbourne investigation, as well as a concurrent probe into Crown’s Perth casino.

In a separate statement, Crown said it remains “willing to engage” with Star in relation to a potential merger. “The board is committed to maximizing value for all Crown shareholders and will carefully consider any proposal that is consistent with this objective,” it said.

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Why businesses should be tapping into the world of eSports

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Gaming has run a parallel race with tech businesses for years now with many industries embracing the competitive advantages.

CARLOS ALIMURUNG EXPLAINS THE PERKS OF MOBILE GAMING

It’s no secret that eSports is an area that many gamers imagined thriving since the early days of couch multiplayer – Businesses are now witnessing the momentum first-hand with companies such as ONE eSports acting as a vanguard to this new era.

CEO of ONE eSports, Carlos Alimurung was able to shine some light on the industry looking to explain the benefits for players, sponsors, and streamers.

Mobile gaming, whilst often considered “beneath” many traditional gamers have seen exponential growth with the power of smartphones and mobile devices increasing significantly, and eSports teams have noticed the potential of the games on offer and the convenience with which the platforms contain.

Celebrating the narrative of content creators and players within the industry is another area boasted by ONE eSports as they encourage and promote the players, seeing them as no different to athletes seen on a field, court, or even the Olympics. Though as Carlos explains “eSports doesn’t need the Olympics” – A wonderful expression of confidence for a passionate group of gamers desiring to be taken seriously.

Balancing a traditionally male-dominated industry can be a challenging task for a lot of big businesses which look to make a difference.

Articles outlining the struggles of female employees within game development are rife and deeply troubling, with major developers coming under fire for their response to the traumatic experiences inflicted upon women in the gaming industry.

INCLUSION IS PART OF THEIR INDUSTRY MISSION

They seek to enable and uplift players, streamers, and content creators of all genders to succeed – a breath of fresh air in an otherwise tainted space.

The numbers of female players look to increase with nearly 47% of gamers already being female there is plenty of room to see growth within eSports. (It doesn’t matter what gender you are when you’re on the business end of a no-scope trick shot in the arena!)

carlos alimurung gives insight into the business branding within esports

With brands like Netflix looking to get involved in the gaming industry, it is no longer a question of how but when other major companies will look to plug in and play.

Brands will also need to get smart about how their marketing will be presented to a younger more active audience (without hitting players over the head with it) Games like the basketball simulator: NBA 2K21 integrated unskippible advertising during loading screens which saw fans upset with being force-fed content onto their screens.

And whilst some could argue this made the game more authentic as advertising of course coats the sporting space, there are definitely more clever ways to do this… the spectacle of an esports arena for instance and the opportunities available have untapped potential, again the key is to be clever with the integration of marketing to Gen Z.

EXPANDING REACH

eSport will continue to expand its traditional reach from North America and Southeast Asia through onto Australian shores the question again, is not how but when this will occur as many Aussie gamers go without representation and limited faculty on home soil.

With the pandemic and vaccine rollout yet to play out in full there is a great opportunity to expand the digital market and competitive gaming space worldwide.

For the full chat with Carlos and more gaming goodness check out the rest of Ticker Gaming

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