100 batches later, local spirit still a market heavyweight
A NORTHERN Rivers alcohol icon has been a driving force in the massive growth of the Australian gin market.
Ink Gin, produced by Tumbulgum-based Husk Distillers, will this month reach its 100th batch, just over five years in.
Ink Gin is infused with pH-sensitive butterfly pea flower petals which give it a mystical quality, turning from indigo to blush pink when mixed with tonic water, lemon or lime.
The first batch was released in July, 2015 and since then, Ink Gin has become one of the most popular brands of the spirit by market share.
Batch One hit shelves before the craft gin boom reached Australia and the 105-bottle batch was hand-labelled by the Messenger family.
At the time, the aesthetically dramatic spirit shocked experts who believed gin should be clear.
It was the first patented colour-changing gin.
"When we launched Ink Gin not everyone was impressed, with several industry veterans
commenting 'It tastes great - but gin is supposed to be clear!'," founder and distiller Paul
But Ink held its own.
In 2016, Ink Gin claimed the coveted Australian Drinks Industry Award for Best Innovation in Spirits over well-established global brands.
The same year, a photo of Margot Robbie with Ink Gin in hand catapulted the spirit into star status.
"Sales started growing strongly and we had a hunch that we had hit onto something," Mr Messenger said.
"Gin was about to take off."
Australia's gin market has grown by 95 per cent since 2015.
The ultra premium sector (involving gins more than $80 a bottle, like Ink), has grown by a whopping 1216 per cent from 9500 cases in 2015 to 125,000 in 2019, according to the latest IWSR Report.
Today, Ink is Australia's best-selling ultra premium gin and it accounted for 20 per cent of that segment in 2019.
Half a million bottles of Ink Gin have now been sold.
Batch 100 of Ink Gin is being celebrated with a commemorative label and a COVID-safe community cocktail competition.