Following on from Part One, Drinks Trade brings you Part Two of our Iconic Australian Brands series during Australia Day week.
From wines to beers to RTDs, Australian creativity in the drinks sector knows no bounds. Here are three famous local drink brands that transcended the Aussie backyard to become internationally recognised icons and blueprints for generations of drinks brands. They were the original brand influencers and the best.
Orlando was a household name in the 1950s and 60s. However, the wine brand had been in the making since 1874 when the legendary Gramp family established the Orlando vineyard in Barossa Valley. By 1912, Orlando was one of Australia’s premium wine producers and made fortified wines like everyone else. However, Orlando wasn’t one to rest on its laurels and began experimenting with new winemaking techniques. The company’s decision to import the first temperature-controlled pressure fermentation tanks from Germany changed the face of Australia’s table wine production. One of the first wines made with the tanks was a Barossa riesling – judged Best Riesling at the Sydney and Melbourne Wine Shows. Orlando achieved what many believed wasn’t possible. Its famous Steingarten Riesling was also the first of its kind – a new style made in 1962 from a high-altitude vineyard grown on rocky terroir. The first Jacaranda Ridge Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon was released twenty years later, followed by the first Lawson’s Padthaway Shiraz two years later. In 1989, Orlando was purchased by Pernod Ricard and subsequently rebranded. It’s been a quiet period for the Aussie icon; however, this year the parent company announced Orlando would return to shelves with a portfolio of regionally focused wines, including the Steingarten, Jacaranda Ridge and Lawson’s classics.
WEST COAST COOLER
The saying, ‘what’s old is new again’ couldn’t ring truer when it comes to wine coolers – although now the health-conscious are drinking ‘hard seltzers’. Yet today’s mix of sparkling water, alcohol and fruit flavours haven’t come far from yesterday’s wine cooler, simply swapping out wine for any alcohol. Pernod Ricard’s West Coast Cooler is a retro survivor from yesteryear – the 1980s – made by the company’s subsidiary, Irish Distillers to keep up with the category leader, California Cooler, targeting middle-aged women. One can only assume its name was a nod to its Irish home – a far cry from sunny California but popular with drinkers the world over. Wine connoisseurs may have turned their backs on the white wine mixed with sparkling water and fruit flavours, but they can’t deny it didn’t sell – and by the thousands.
Did you know there is a Reschs Appreciation Society? This group of Reschs biggest fans are charging a revival of Australia’s iconic beer – and winning. Saddened by the demise of Reschs on taps in pubs and clubs, and frustrated with the explosion of craft beer, the society decided to fight for the return of “good honest beer at a reasonable price”. Reschs was the name of the Sydney brewery founded by Edmund Resch in 1898. It collapsed in 1929 and was taken over by Tooth and Co, but the name lived on in the beer brands. Production of Reschs endured for some time, however, by the 2000s Reschs Double Bitter and Dinner Ale had been phased out. Reschs Real Bitter was discontinued later in mid- 2018. Reschs Draught, on the other hand, is arguably Australia’s most enduring beer and continues to survive and thrive with Carlton & United Breweries. What’s more, the brewing company returned Reschs iconic Silver Bullet cans to shelves in New South Wales bottleshops in July last year after a campaign by our friends at the society. The cans of Reschs Pilsener – named for their distinctive colouring – held a special spot in NSW drinkers’ hearts before they were replaced with bottles around 2005 as sales plummeted. But Reschs fans never forgot their beloved cans and even had a say on the new design – silver with a map of NSW found on the original.