After a trip to Italy, Tom Maclean fell in love with the Italian way of doing things and decided to bring back a little piece of the country, adding to it a touch of Australia. It was the Aperitivo, or the Italian cocktail, that Tom thought would resonate most with Aussies so he set about turning this Italian staple into something for an Australian audience.
“In Italy, locals often gather in the early afternoon and into the evening to unwind with good company, an Aperitivo and nibbles,” explains Tom. “It’s seen as a way to slow down, enjoy the company of family and friends and prepare for an enjoyable meal. I thought this would be the perfect addition to our BBQ culture here in Australia.”
Determined to make his dream a reality, he teamed up with fifth generation Mudgee winemaker Simon Gilbert to create the first Aussie born Aperitivo, SOFI Spritz.
The ready-to-serve cocktail is made with premium Australian wine, bitters, herbal extracts, and natural ingredients, which have been sourced from around the country, including blood orange, white peach, ginger, lemon and bitters. The flavours take inspiration from classic Italian cocktails such as the Veneto Spritz, the Bellini and the Hugo Spritz.
Tom started testing the product at the Bondi Farmers Markets in 2013 and harnessed the power of crowdfunding to bring it to Australian customers. The company began expanding, appearing in bottle shops and on tap in bars around the country, as well as on Virgin Australia flights. He developed new recipes and charmed the Shark Tank panel, securing a deal with Steve Baxter and Glen Richards, who remain close advisors to the business to this day.
But when the 2019 bushfires hit Mudgee - the home of SOFI Spritz - and the company lost much of its product, Tom had to move quickly to source an alternative supply to keep SOFI Spritz on shelves. And then COVID-19 followed, wreaking havoc and causing many of the hospitality premises stocking the product to close their doors, which led Tom to realise the potential of selling online.
“We began looking into online as a way to allow Australians to continue to enjoy SOFI Spritz, without leaving their homes,” said Tom.
With the backing of Amazon.com.au’s Launchpad program, SOFI Spritz was able to shift its model to online and reach customers around Australia. By using Fulfilment by Amazon, Amazon’s fulfilment service that takes care of businesses’ inventory, storage, delivery, customer service and returns handling, SOFI Spritz could also have its products delivered directly to Australian homes in as little as two days.
“Amazon Australia allowed us to find a different way to engage with our customers,” Tom says. “I’m really excited to be on the store and looking forward to the opportunities it will provide us during the Australian summer BBQ season.”
Amazon.com.au is putting small Australian businesses front and centre through their ‘Shop Local’ store in the run up to the massive shopping event, Prime Day and beyond. Head to www.Amazon.com.au/shoplocal to shop products from hundreds of Australian small businesses.