Following the announcement that SouthTrade International will begin exclusive distribution of Australian craft spirit brand Mr Black, Managing Director Ray Noble has revealed why the deal was crucial to the company and hints there’s another big announcement in the works. By Drinks Trade Editor Hannah Sparks & Alana House
Local craft spirits are a passion for Ray Noble, so when the opportunity arose for SouthTrade to represent Mr Black, he jumped at it.
The deal includes representing their Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur and Coffee Amaro expressions and is effective July 1, 2018.
“I’m really proud that SouthTrade has been able to support local craft brands in Australia and that’s a strong platform for us now with Starward Whisky, Adelaide Hills Distillery, Mr Black and there’s one more to come, which should be announced in the next four weeks,” he said. “Then we’ll have a complete portfolio of Australian craft spirits that we can really get behind.
“Mr Black is definitely the new ‘up and coming’ brand which is rapidly gaining a following with bartenders, baristas and consumers alike. We look forward to helping Mr Black reach its full potential.”
Noble admitted there was also a commercial imperative behind the decision.
“The other reality was that Patron is leaving the portfolio and over 75% of our Patron business was XO Café. It was really important to us that we found a replacement for that – a good, high quality, well-respected liquid – and we found that in Mr Black, hence the partnership was formed.”
Mr Black is created at Distillery Botanica on the Central Coast, with Noble proudly noting “it’s all handmade using locally sourced coffee beans; the brand really does care about it.”
Since Sydneysiders Tom Baker and Philip Moore launched Mr Black in 2012, sales have doubled each year and it’s now sold in more than a 1000 bars, restaurants and liquor shops across Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the UK and New York, with distribution deals in place for Chicago and California this year.
Baker told Entrepreneur he plans to sell a half million bottles of Mr Black in the next three years.
He explained the decision to team up with SouthTrade: “We are looking forward to joining the SouthTrade family and are confident this move will allow Mr Black to develop further as the world leader in premium coffee liqueurs. We make coffee by night and distill botanicals during the day, and we’re excited to continue our mission to take Australian craft coffee into the night. With the SouthTrade team’s knowledge and expertise, we plan to expand Mr Black through a broader distribution footprint, drinks strategy and further innovation.”
While Noble couldn’t reveal too much about his future plans for Mr Black just yet, he said: “The guys have already done great things getting involved in a lot of events and festivals and we want to build on all of the great work they’ve done and there are probably some easy wins to be had in terms of getting a bit more exposure for the brand, increasing the distribution footprint, a bit more consumer promotions and a fair bit of play in the digital place and I think that brand can really go to the next level.”
Mr Black is available through Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Independent retail and on-premise locations nationally.
Pictured main: SouthTrade’s Ray Noble with Mr Black’s Tom Baker.