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Swan Valley gin-novation makes history

Anneke de Boer
Anneke de Boer
// // Old Young's gin distillery has won big on the world stage, and raised $2.7M to boot...

A small Swan Valley craft distillery has won two of the world’s most prestigious gin awards on the same night. Not bad timing either, as within 24 hours of winning these awards, the alcohol brand raised a record $2.7M on Birchal’s equity crowd-funding site, taking its valuation to $30M.

Established in 2016, Old Young’s was awarded Craft Producer of the Year and Brand Innovator of the Year at The Icons of Gin competition held in London. It marks the first time an Australian distillery has ever won Craft Producer of the Year, and only the second time an Australian distiller has won Brand Innovator of the year.

Now established on the world stage, Old Young’s sprang from humble beginnings. James Young, now owner and CEO, saw potential in an old mothballed distillery set up in a 36 sqm tin shed.

Old Young’s started to turn heads in the Australian gin industry within a couple of years, winning consecutive Champion Australian Distiller titles at the Australian Distilled Spirit Awards in 2017 and 2018.

“Winning just one trophy at The Icon of Gin Awards would be a career bucket list item – but two, WOW!” Mr Young said.

“When you look at the past winners of these two awards, it’s a who’s who of the world’s most respected brands, selling in dozens of countries, and selling hundreds of thousands of bottles a year. Brands like Adnams in the UK, Citadelle from France, Australia’s Four Pillars, Kyoto gin from Japan, Audemus from France, and The UK’s Warner’s Distillery. It’s humbling to now be mentioned in the same breath.”

Mr Young says that central to winning is the signature gin, Old Young’s 1829 Gin which – like any good gin – has a base of juniper berries.

“I’m like a proud father whose child has just won an Oscar. Swan Valley and surrounds offer some of the finest botanicals I’ve seen which gives 1829 its balance between bright citrus characters and savoury spice,” he said.

Covid induced ‘gin-nnovation’

“When the pandemic hit, I decided to launch Australia’s most unique gin subscription service, The Juniper Society.  It’s like Netflix – but for gin!

“Each month subscribers have a brand new, never to be repeated gin, delivered for $59.

“We’ve released 30 editions so far. This allows my creative side to run wild – it’s the reason why I believe I have the best job in the world. Most other distillers pump out the same gin day in and day out – not us. When it comes to innovation and crafting exceptional gins with a difference – we are match fit,” Mr Young said.

It is this innovation that was fundamental to Old Young’s taking home the Brand Innovator of the year award.

Equity crowdfunding

The double awards come just one week after Old Young’s launched its equity crowdfunding campaign.

Upcoming initiatives include employing a sales team based on the east coast to help infiltrate leading bars and bottle shops, as well as exploring the international export market. Old Young’s has set its sights on tripling production capacity by bringing online a 500L next-generation still and an automatic bottling line. 

Swan Valley gin-novation makes history

Mr Young has plans to build what he describes as a ‘Cathedral of Gin’ in the Swan Valley. Initial designs are already underway with national and international architectural firms, to compete to win the project.

The share offer comes as Old Young’s achieved an Average Growth of 90% per annum over the last 6 years since 2016. The company reached $5.3M revenue in 2022 with 71,835 bottles filled, and $14.9M turnover since launch – that’s 270,000 bottles filled.

“Not long ago we were spit-balling a catchy phrase to help draw in potential investors – ‘become part-owner in the world’s best gin distillery’.  At the time this was just a throwaway line.  Never in our wildest dreams could we imagine this would happen so soon,” Mr Young said.


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Anneke de Boer

Anneke de Boer

Anneke has an interest in the Western Australian startup community, is a contributor at Startup News and Reporter at The Property Tribune. She studies a Bachelor of Arts and Commerce, Journalism and Economics at Curtin University.
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