A unique farm-to-bottle producer, Tasmania’s Lawrenny Estate Distillery uses a Qantas Points earning Business Card to unlock flexible funding and take its award-winning whisky and spirits to the world.
Lawrenny Estate was given new life when its owner, the Mace family, took the former cattle farm in Tasmania’s Central Highlands – an hour north west of Hobart – and turned it into a whisky distillery in 2017. “I knew the family and when they told me their idea, I had to be involved,” says the co-founder and general manager of Lawrenny Estate Distillery, Jensen Farley, who had experience in the wine and spirits industry.
The property is a complete paddock-to-bottle operation. The team grows its own barley, malts it and then uses local water from the Derwent River to distil whisky on site. As Farley explains, Lawrenny Estate would be “one of the very few properties of its kind in the world”.
Whisky is a long game, with barrels of the spirit needing years to age before hitting the market. In order to keep cash flowing, Lawrenny Estate Distillery expanded its offering in the early years to include ‘white’ spirits, like gin and vodka, which could land on shelves sooner.
With a new product line came new suppliers and costs, so the distillery turned to the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card. Having access to a dynamic line of unsecured funding¹ and up to 51 days to pay for purchases² on the Card allowed the business to stay on top of its expenses – then and now. “We use the Card to manage the business’s cash flow by paying many of our suppliers and to attend and host events both here and internationally,” says Farley.
The strategy to diversify the distillery’s offering was a success and after just six years the business now sells over 20,000 cases of spirits annually, boasts a 10,000-strong database and was recently awarded gold at the 2023 London Spirits Competition for its Cellar Collection Port Cask Single Malt Whisky.
“Earning Qantas Points was another draw of the Card,” says Farley, who earns up to 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on everyday business expenses and 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Qantas products and services.³
“It helps us travel more comfortably, with upgrades for the team when we’re flying in Australia or overseas, going to trade shows to take our products to the people or meeting with new distributors in places like Japan. Being based in Tasmania, we’re on planes a lot.”
With team members often in different parts of the country (or world), there was a need for the Lawrenny Estate Distillery team to create working efficiencies when it came to using the Card. The American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card offers up to 99 Employee Cards at no additional charge, meaning it’s always on hand.⁴ “We pay fees for the one Card and have four individual Cards issued,” says Farley. “It’s a nice saving.”
The number of sales is set to increase exponentially with the distillery sitting on stores of about 200,000 litres of whisky currently ageing in barrels; with the label’s core range of whisky ready to take to the world from July.
Farley is excited about a new era for the label. “I think small businesses need a really clear five-year vision,” he says. “For us, we want our distillery to be recognised globally as a leading producer of Tasmanian single malt whisky. And we’re on our way.”
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Jensen Farley shares his top small business tips …
The key to... managing large capital expenses
“Whisky is an expensive hobby and an expensive business. While there’s only three main ingredients – barley, yeast and water – there are plenty of peripheral costs like barrels and storage and time,” says Farley. “We were lucky with the success of our gins and white spirits but their popularity meant that we had to get more supplies, build new stills to make the product and find bigger stores than anticipated. We know our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card and the dynamic line of funding¹ is there to help us scale and get hold of any supplies that we need.”
The key to… telling your story
“We have quite a unique story. We’re a farm-based distillery, we grow our own barley on the farm and we can take directly out of the fresh waters that run through the property. We travel across the country using Qantas Points we earned from charging business expenses³ to our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card to attend all the trade shows and competitions to tell our story to as many people as we can,” he says. “It’s important for us and I think it’s important for other businesses to have an authentic story for their customers.”
The key to … hiring to your needs
“In the six years that we’ve been operating, we’ve grown from three full-time employees to nine staff members and are continually looking to grow,” says Jensen. “Finding the right people comes with having a really clear vision for your brand needs – for instance at the beginning we needed distilling expertise and found our head distiller Joe Dinsmoor – and hiring people that really believe in that story and want to work towards that collectively.”
The key to… building a new brand
“While a lot of whisky brands lean on their history, ours is a story that’s really about provenance,” says Farley. “There’s a lot of interest in whiskies outside of the traditional areas, such as Japan, Taiwan and even Iceland. I think Australia and Tasmania are in that mix because we’ve got fresh air, water, and natural resources on our side to produce beautiful Tasmanian single malt whisky. We’ve just got to show them”
*100,000 bonus Qantas Points: Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply, are approved and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on their new Card in the first two (2) months from the Card approval date. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any other Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the preceding 18-month period are ineligible for this offer. 100,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member's Account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Subject to the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and Conditions. $450 annual fee applies. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer. This offer may be withdrawn at any time without notice
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American Express approval criteria applies. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. All information is correct as at 1 June 2023 and is subject to change. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Cards are offered, issued and administered by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company.