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Financial Review: Budget extends happy hour for gin maker

Distillers and brewers are hoping that tax cuts targeting craft spirits and beer production will help Australia’s burgeoning boutique alcohol industry expand its footprint globally, mirroring the export push undertaken by the wine sector 30 years ago.

Tuesday’s federal budget offered small breweries and distillers $255 million in savings by lifting the excise relief cap – which is the mechanism by which both beer and spirit production is taxed – from $100,000 to $350,000.

“It’s an amazing shot in the arm to the burgeoning Australia craft [distillers] scene and brings us in line with the [tax relief] support wine has had for 30 years,” distiller David Whittaker said.


“A welcome shot in the arm”: David Whittaker and Vanessa Wilton will use tax cuts to help expand Manly Spirits Co overseas. 

He planned to pour the savings straight back into investments in salespeople, bottling, product development and overseas expansion at Manly Spirits Co, which he co-founded with his wife Vanessa Wilton in 2017.

The potential of overseas was key to the Australian Distillers Association’s lobby for excise relief, in which the industry body joined forces with several crossbenchers to push Treasurer Josh Frydenberg for support.

“Coming into export markets you don’t really make money for a number of years, so you need a bit of a war chest to get you through until you’ve gotten established,” Mr Whittaker said.

Mr Whittaker – who launched Manly Spirits in the UK two and a half years ago and is moving into the US and EU markets currently – said overseas expansion was the logical next step for Australia’s rapidly growing craft spirits scene.

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