The Spirits Business Interview - Confessions of a Retailer: Destination Cellars
Confessions of a retailer: Destination Cellars
Todd Morrison, owner of Destination Cellars, discusses the challenges and rewards of running a spirits store in Hobart, Tasmania.
Where did your interest in spirits come from?
I returned home to Tasmania in 2009 after living abroad for more than a decade and started working in the family bottle shop. I found that the local spirits industry, whisky in particular, was starting to gain momentum and I needed to understand it better.
What inspired you to open Destination Cellars?
After being home for a couple of years I got a feel for the local retail industry and wanted to open an independent liquor shop specialising in whisky as I had fallen in love with the industry and there was nobody doing it at the time. My goal was to create a place where people could talk about and purchase great products, and find out the story of the people who made them.
How would you describe the store to someone who has never visited?
Whisky heaven, with a generous dash of artisan spirits, craft beer and local wine. I have wonderful, knowledgeable staff that love the industry – their enthusiasm is contagious. It is a great place to start your artisan spirit journey and to wax lyrical with enthusiasts.
Do you have a favourite spirit in stock at the moment?
It’s winter here in Tasmania now, so it is all about the whisky. The new GlenDronach Batch 7 Single Cask, Kavalan’s latest Solist Vinho Barrique, Amrut’s Limited Edition Madeira Finish Indian Single Malt, and our local favourite, Heartwood’s Shot in the Dark, which is aged in a Muscat cask, have all been phenomenal drams.
How do you keep ahead of changing trends in the industry?
A big part of what we do involves customer interaction and feedback. Their invaluable opinions keep our shelves reflective of the things they like to drink, and our team’s knowledge and passion for learning allows us to keep up with current trends and product launches. By combining this knowledge base we have a really great handle on what releases our customers will love.
Do you have any stand-out memories of your time in the store?
We have had a lot of famous people in the shop, and I love it when new customers stop and smile when they see wall-to-wall whisky. But recently we had a customer travel all the way to Iceland, where he tried to buy a local whisky called Flóki. It was impossible for him to buy a bottle, no matter how much money he offered. He was floored to learn that we had it in his hometown the whole time.
What challenges do you face?
Physically getting products to Tasmania in a timely and economical way. At times the Bass Strait can seem like the Bermuda Triangle when it comes to freighting goods here. Also, finding our audience and competing with big business marketing is a challenge, but one that we are up for.
How has Destination Cellars changed since it opened?
We opened as a Tasmanian concept store that focused on local spirits, beer, cider and wine, but particularly on whisky. After some deep thought, I decided to specialise in the greater world of whisky and built a store that had drams from 20 of the 25 whisky-producing nations. Four years later, and with 42 registered distilleries in Tasmania, we are starting to see the shelves fill up again with local whisky.
Where do you see the business in five years’ time?
We will continue to present the best spirits and push the boundaries between new and established products. We will also strive to keep bringing our customers the best producers and brand ambassadors from around the world with our events.