Jul 22, 2020
In this episode, I interview
Patrick Maguire, the Master Distiller for Sullivans Cove Distillery
in Hobart, Tasmania, and the Chairman of the Tasmanian Whisky
Producers Association in 2012. Sullivans Cove was one of the first
craft distilleries of commercial scale in Australia founded in
1996, sold in 1999, and went into liquidation in 2003 when Patrick
and a few investors salvaged it.
Closing the cellar door in
Central Hobart and moving the distillery twenty minutes out of town
into an industrial park, they invested heavily in production with a
big focus on quality spirit and then marketing. In 2014, they won
Best Single Malt Whiskey in the world, the first distillery to do
so outside whisky’s traditional homes of Scotland, Ireland, and
Japan. A year later, they opened the cellar door and a year after
that, the business was sold again to the current owners, and
Patrick left the business in late 2019.
The business grew from a handful
of full-time employees to nine, down to just two after liquidation,
and now twenty-three. He believes the hardest thing in growing a
small business is keeping an eye on cash flow. The advice he would
give himself on day one of starting in business is, “Back yourself.
Have a plan. Stick to the plan. You’ll go through times where you
hate yourself for doing what you’re doing, but it will all work
out” Stay tuned for more on Patrick’s inspiring small business
This Cast Covers:
business backstory and how everything led him into the distilling
uphill task of getting Australians and the world to buy Tasmanian
whisky at a time when it was not so popular.
- Overcoming the initial production nightmare by
moving to a better location and improving on marketing to increase
patience all the partners had to master until the business was
- Educating Australians about whisky and scotch,
and the support they got from the Tasmanian state
- Valuable feedback they got from Asian
importers, distributors, and retailers about their scotch and how
it helped them improve their branding.
value of investing in proper marketing and ensuring that the
production and marketing teams are always on the same
- Taking time to allow their spirit to mature and
get credibility for their whisky.
- Getting published in the whisky bible and
achieving three liquid gold awards.
- Learning a lot from how different markets
determine what product is worth buying.
- Becoming the first distillery outside of
Scotland, Japan, or Ireland (And the first one in the Southern
Hemisphere) to win Best Single Malt.
three reasons why 90% of their sales went overseas.
- Defying warnings from wholesalers to sell their
annual stocks through Dan Murphy’s.
- Losing 25% to 30% of their margin to get
funding to cover their tax bill.
real game-changer that had them bottling every single
- Growing the team from 12 full-time employees to
22 and their casks to their current five warehouses.
moment of success: Winning different awards, setting things up
properly, having a great crew, becoming a top brand, and selling
frustrations they went through trying to sell in the Australian
importance of the people a business owner employs and setting up a
dynamic within the team.
managing the massive business growth led him farther and farther
away from the team.
difference in how a business operates once their brand becomes
- Having a business plan from the very start and
sticking to it.
Tips: Don’t bring on relatives unless they have some value that
they can offer.
- Having board directors based in the US, UK, and
Spain, and the importance of constant and transparent
is king: Keeping an eye on cash flow, sticking to the business
plan, and not spending beyond your needs
Music from https://filmmusic.io
"Cold Funk" by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC