Welcome to Local Heroes, a new column dedicated to emerging local and national brands across all categories and geographies.

Today’s spotlight falls on Sydney-based, premium spirits brand, Otter Craft Distilling (OCD), an independent distiller which uses only sustainable and traceable ingredients and reflects its co-founders’ shared values of creativity, style and taste.

A “uniquely opulent drinking experience” – OCD and Heinemann Australia introduce Pride Gold Leaf vodka

AUSTRALIA. When  Otter Craft Distilling (OCD) teamed up Heinemann Australia earlier this year to launch a travel retail-exclusive Pride Gold Leaf vodka at Sydney and Gold Coast airports, it marked a key leap forward for the Sydney-based family-owned distiller.

The ‘bedazzled’ Pride label is the result of a collaboration with Los Angeles-based, Emmy award winning costume designer Perry Meek. It signals the first in a series which will continue an exclusive collaboration with Heinemann Australia.

The launch was timed to coincide with Sydney WorldPride, the global not-for-profit festival (which this year incorporated Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras), a mass celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community that ran from 17 February to 5 March.

As part of the Pride label and Heinemann partnership, the two companies are making private donations to Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, Australia’s longest-running HIV charity {Click here to read our recent interview with Heinemann Australia Managing Director George Tsoukalas}.

At the two Heinemann airport locations, the bespoke Pride vodka is featured alongside other OCD single malt vodkas, including Pure, Lemon Drop, Coffee and Cocoa, as well as another Heinemann exclusive, the OCD #23 vodka, a blend of rose, hibiscus and juniper.

The Gold Leaf vodka expression, which follows the same distillation process used to create OCD’s single malt Pure, includes generous amounts of 24ct edible gold leaf.

Pure, Coffee and (on the right) #23 are included in the OCD vodka line-up with Heinemann Australia

Mary St gin enjoys prime positioning with Heinemann Australia at Sydney Airport

Heinemann Australia also features OCD’s Mary St gin and gin liqueur range, which includes travel retai- exclusive sets and mini packs.

The full OCD range includes Port, Sherry, Bourbon and Pinot Cask whiskies, along with ‘Ex-porter’ and New French Oak Cask expressions, with other barrels – including Oloroso and Cognac – resting.

OCD also offers Espresso Martini and Bloody Mary kits, pre-made cocktails, and “the ultimate gift for someone who has everything”, personalised barrels of whisky.

Travel retail as the perfect brand showcase

OCD Co-founder Julie Otter describes travel retail as a “critical part of OCD’s growth strategy” and underlines the importance of the timing and opportunity to partner with Heinemann Australia.

“Heinemann’s support and belief in OCD has been fantastic,” she said. “We met with the team in between lockdowns. None of us knew how long each lockdown would be, or when it would end, but we all wanted to keep the conversation going, so that as soon as the world was getting back on its feet, we could launch OCD at Sydney Airport.”

Otter says the partnership with Heinemann allows OCD to “share its brand, story and spirits with an audience that we literally cannot connect with or create in any other space.

“We launched OCD not knowing a pandemic would hit six months later, so the ability to showcase our brand in travel retail to the widest possible range of consumers from all over Australia and the world is so exciting for us.

“The focus for OCD is to expand both our travel retail and local presence around Australia and the world. We are excited to have entered the Singapore domestic market and have been so grateful for the incredible feedback and support we have received there.”

“Premium, hand-made, locally distilled” – OCD vodkas are based on single malt barley, sourced and malted in the Riverina region of New South Wales

From an international perspective, OCD hopes to expand into New Zealand and across Asia, with the UK, European and US markets future targets.

“For all of our consumers, wherever they are from, we offer a spirits range we know they will not find anywhere else in the world. They are all true single malt spirits, that are fermented, distilled and created in a very unique way,” Otter adds.

“For the travel retail consumer at Heinemann, we offer an exclusive range of bespoke packaging across labels and bottles, for both our OCD vodkas & Mary St gin and gin liqueur ranges, as well as flavours that are not available anywhere else. It is important to us that the consumer is able to experience and hopefully taste and enjoy as much of OCD as possible whilst travelling; so creating these personalised touchpoints is a priority for us.”

The story behind Otter Craft Distilling

OCD is the brainchild of brother and sister Eduard and Julie Otter, whose background includes strategic brand and business development, as well as CEO roles for local and international brands.

With a corporate background in hospitality, including almost three years at Pernod Ricard, Eduard began many years ago formulating ideas that reflected his love of whisky and other spirits, along with his strong respect for tradition, provenance and innovation.

“Every element of OCD reflects a process that combines tradition and innovation” – OCD Co-founders Eduard and Julie Otter

In 2015, after years of experimentation and distillations in his garage – and creating his own mash by hand – Eduard produced the first 50-litre barrel of whisky.

In mid-2019 he and his sister walked away from their successful corporate careers to create the family business; an independent distillery which would use only sustainable and traceable ingredients and would reflect their shared values of creativity, style and taste.

“One farm, one paddock, one malter and one distiller. We know each of our suppliers and we all work hard to support each other, and to share ideas and grow together.” – OCD Co-founder Eduard Otter

Following the launch of a suite of signature OCD vodkas, as well as single malt, single barrel whiskies, OCD added the Mary St gin and liqueur range.

As co-founders, Eduard is OCD’s Distiller and “creator of everything inside the bottle” while Julie serves as Director and “the creator of everything outside the bottle”. A critical part of the OCD story is the commitment the duo have to work only with like-minded suppliers who are passionate about sustainable and traceable ingredients, that are ethically sourced.

As Eduard explains, “every element of OCD reflects a process that combines tradition and innovation. We create everything by hand and in small batches.

“They are all distilled and created with Australian ingredients, starting with a single malt barley base that is sourced and malted in the Riverina region of New South Wales,” he says. “One farm, one paddock, one malter and one distiller. We know each of our suppliers and we all work hard to support each other, and to share ideas and grow together.

“The integrity of craftsmanship, from designing all of the stills, to the distillation process… every element of the OCD brand ensures that the final product is individually crafted to ensure the very highest of flavour and standards,” he adds.

According to Julie Otter, OCD’s core brand values of sustainability, traceability, transparency and fair trade are reflected again in the Mary St gin and gin liqueurs range.

“We decided to name this range after the street our distillery was on at the time we created the brand,” she says. “As gin uses a juniper and not a barley base, we needed to differentiate this from our vodkas and whisky, as these are all made with an Australian single malt base.

“We also really like that there are so many Mary Streets in Australia and around the world. It fits beautifully into our story that this range is for everyone, no matter where you are.”

The bottle label includes a message: ‘From our street to your street – however you want, wherever you want to, from wherever you are. The heart of Sydney’s inner west, from us to you – no judgement… just great gin.’

“For OCD, the goal was always to create the best possible premium Australian spirits brand that we could, and one that would sit equally amongst the world’s best like-minded spirits brands,” Julie concludes. ✈


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