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Drinks innovators triumph at 2021 Coles Supplier Awards

Five drinks suppliers have taken out top awards at the 2021 Coles Supplier Awards, with Carlton & United Breweries winning Liquor Supplier of the Year.

The awards celebrate creative Australian businesses that are leading the way in areas of sustainability, community and health innovation.

Coles CEO Steven Cain said: “At Coles, we’re grateful for our long-held partnerships with farmers, producers and suppliers, which help drive our purpose to sustainably feed all Australians.

“COVID-19 has certainly proven to be tough on businesses around the country, but it is heartening to see examples of remarkable resilience and passion from suppliers who have continued to achieve amazing feats, despite the challenges.”

Carlton & United Breweries won the Coles Liquor Supplier of the Year Award for a range of initiatives. This includes pack differentiation through 8-packs on iconic brands such as VB, Carlton Dry and Great Northern and reinvigorating heritage brands such as KB Lager.

In addition, there was a range of exciting new releases on local craft beers such as Pirate Life, 4 Pines, Mountain Goat, Balter, Green Beacon and Matilda Bay.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners won the Coles Express Supplier of the Year Award for its activations to inspire customers throughout the year including promotions for Easter, AFL season, Christmas and Movember which helped raised funds for men’s health.

Samuel Smith & Son/Negociants Australia was the winner of Wine Supplier of the Year.

Wolf of the Willows won Local Supplier of the Year. The team behind Wolf of the Willows, Scott and Renae McKinnon, have built a craft brewing powerhouse from their taproom in Mordialloc. Their passion for creating hand-crafted ales has generated a huge local following and they’ve leveraged that local support to share their beer with customers all over the country.

Wolf of the Willows has worked closely with Coles to develop new beer styles and brands, such as the hugely popular Dad’s Lager which was launched for Father’s Day.

Coles names Spirits Supplier of the Year

Vivir Group was crowned Spirits Supplier of the Year. VIVIR Group is the driving force behind Coles’ hugely popular El Sueno seltzers, Australia’s first-ever tequila seltzer, while its premium VIVIR Reposado was crowned the Reposado of the Year at the Melbourne International Spirits Competition 2021.

Liquorland and First Choice Liquor Market launched the tequila seltzers last year. The range includes Pink Grapefruit and Watermelon Margarita seltzers blended with El Sueño Silver tequila with natural fruit, plus a Margarita Seltzer, a sparkling version of the classic lime and agave cocktail

In addition Vivir has launched innovative flavoured tequila liqueurs, capitalising on the burgeoning interest in tequila cocktails in Australia.

El Sueño and VIVIR are the culmination of more than five years of hard graft for co-founder Paul Hayes, whose passion to create a premium spirit took him from the traditional distilleries of Mexico all the way to the top shelves of London’s storied Mayfair cocktail bars.

It all started when Paul and fellow IT entrepreneur and tequila aficionado Nav Grewal caught up for a drink in a London bar, only to find themselves disappointed at the lack of high-end tequilas on offer.

“There were top shelf vodkas and craft gins in the market but nothing comparable in the tequila space,” Hayes said.

Rising to the challenge, the pair have built a sustainable, independent tequila producer that has been at the forefront of tequila’s resurgence as a premium spirit, with El Sueño and VIVIR now the top-selling independent tequilas in the UK market.

“Initially it was challenging to get people to try our tequilas because they hadn’t tasted a premium product before and they thought all tequilas would be like the entry-level brands which was all they had experienced – sometimes towards the end of a horrible night out,” Hayes said.

“Fast forward to the end of lockdowns in the UK and more and more customers were swapping their G&T for a T&T.”

Hayes said he is proud to have built a sustainable business that respects the age-old techniques of tequila making and sits lightly on the natural environment.

“We are one of only four distillers in Jalisco Mexico with access to natural spring water, so we don’t have to use reservoir water – that’s really important to us particularly when the local villages are often struggling to find water,” Hayes said.

“Building a sustainable business has been at the heart of every decision we have made from sourcing mature agave and using traditional clay ovens to using natural processes to break down the agave fibres.”

Spirits & RTDs drive growth for Coles Liquor in FY21

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