Asahi buys Australian gin maker Never Never

The Australasian arm of Asahi Group has purchased Australian gin producer Never Never Distilling Co for an undisclosed sum.

The deal was made through Asahi Beverages, the Australian and New Zealand arm of Japanese conglomerate Asahi Group.

Never Never was launched in 2016 by three friends George Georgiadis, Tim Boast and Sean Baxter, who started distilling gin in an Adelaide shed.

The brand’s distillery is located on top of Chalk Hill in the McLaren Vale region in South Australia. The company produces expressions such as Triple Juniper Gin, Oyster Shell Gin, and Grenache Gin.

Asahi said Never Never’s ‘flavour concentration, innovation and obsession with quality’ distinguish it from other brands in Australia’s AU$3.8 billion (US$2.5bn) premium spirits segment.

The acquisition will enable Never Never to reach a wider range of drinkers, and ‘provide better support and offerings for existing customers and consumers’.

Asahi Beverages group CEO Amanda Sellers said: “Combining Asahi’s reach with Never Never’s amazing portfolio, extensive spirits knowledge and capability will enhance the value proposition for our customers.”

Never Never will be sold through Asahi’s alcohol division in Australia, Carlton & United Breweries (CUB).

The CEO of CUB, Danny Celoni, called the two companies a “terrific fit” and said the deal would help the brand “achieve the scale it deserves”.

He continued: “Never Never’s rapid growth has been driven by premium products, commitment to quality and strong hospitality offering – attributes we share. Adding a high-quality, Australian-made gin to our range plugs an important gap in our offering and complements our leading multi-beverage portfolio.”

Following the deal, the three founders will remain in their positions in the company.

‘Grow Australia’s gin market’

“When we founded Never Never, our vision was to create exciting and innovative gin that competed with the biggest brands in Australia and pushed the boundaries of what’s possible,” said Georgiadis, the brand’s managing director.

“This partnership allows us to realise our vision by helping change, and also grow, Australia’s gin market, where around 80% of gin Australians drink is imported – despite Australia being home to some absolutely cracking gin brands.

“With their consumer brand expertise and deep customer relationships, Asahi will help grow Never Never in a way we’ve always aspired to.”

Asahi’s portfolio includes Nikka Whisky, Vodka Cruiser, pre-mixed vodka-based brand Long White, and hard seltzer brands Viper and Good Tides.

In October last year, Nikka unveiled the third and final Japanese whisky in its Discovery series.

Asahi is not the first Japanese conglomerate to recognise the potential of Australian gin. In July 2023, Kirin’s Australasian division, Lion, took over spirits producer Four Pillars.

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Author: Nicola Carruthers