Better Together: Feels Botanical
Would you mind giving a short introduction of yourself for the folks across Australia?
Hello, I am Blake, one of the creators of Feels Botanical Eau De Vie grape spirit. I was born and raised on the Northern beaches of NSW in a coastal town called Newport. It’s a close-knit community with a mix of people from different backgrounds, cultures and professions.
Everyone gravitated to the beach and that was where lifelong friendships were made. I have been lucky enough to also live in the Whitsunday’s and Adelaide Hills and I developed a real passion for wine, agriculture and working with the environment.
I now live on a property in Northern NSW with my wife Ellie and our 2-year-old son, Otis. The region has a great mix of agriculture, tourism, hospitality, creative industries and beautiful beaches, so we are pretty lucky.
What does it mean to be Australian to you?
Born on the coast, the beach is a big part of my life and I think that is true for a lot of Australians. However, I think diversity, open mindedness and inclusion is something that Australians are big on and working to continually improve.
Our landscape reflects this, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Alpine ranges, across the dusty central plains, into the lush green rolling hills and landing on the white sandy beaches - Australia is vast, diverse and a beautiful place for discovery & change.
Of course, our food, beverage and agriculture industries are world renowned and something we should all be proud of.
Tell us about Feels? How is it made; how do you source the materials? What makes you guys a bit different?
Feels Botanical was created over lunch between Steve Pillemer (co-creator) & I. We realised that we were both at a pivotal point in our lives. We decided to create something real, something that lived and “breathed” life back into our day-to-day. Something that would make us feel and inspire the natural creativity and connection we had lost. We discussed the idea of a new alcohol brand that approached consumption differently, that was creative and true, that paid respect to Australia’s natural bounty and history, and a brand & business that was the eclectic combination of the two of us.
Feels Botanical was created with exactly that in mind; to make people feel- It is an emotive and sensorial brand. From the shape of flavour, the label texture, the botanicals we have used, to the creative interpretations and executions of our creative partners.
It is about the combination of independent elements or people coming together to create something unique and special. It is this individually blended ethos that our business and brand embody.
With regards to the flagship range, we are launching with four products under the Feels Botanical brand. These four products all utilise Australian grape Eau De Vie spirit as the base, which is then distilled with a unique combination of 3 botanicals for each product:
- Feels Botanical Bask, 43%, Eau De Vie grape spirit distilled with Hemp, Quandong & Kakadu Plum.
- Feels Botanical Vivify, 43%, Eau De Vie grape spirit distilled with Turmeric, Coconut & Ginger.
- Feels Botanical Rouse, 33%, Eau De Vie grape spirit distilled with Rose, Horny Goat Weed & Davidson Plum.
- Feels Botanical Revel, 33%, 500ml Eau De Vie grape spirit distilled with Ginseng, Coffee & Illawarra Plum.
What is your goal in what you do or what is the message you hope to get out?
We want to create things that are unique, that challenges the orthodox, inspire creativity, while being mindful of what we take (and do) to the earth, to try to minimise our impact and create change.
We embrace the freedom of spirit and feel that everyone should be able to express themselves, that your creativity or connection to something is different to others, but that is ok and should be celebrated.
Steve and I are from two very different backgrounds, and it creates challenges at times, but with an open mind usually leads to somewhere better for the both of us. We want this to come through in everything we do within our business and brands.
Who are some local heroes or brands that inspire you?
There are heaps - Australia is producing so many great brands and businesses - it is amazing. Here a few by category :)
- Nick & Kiri from Indosole footwear
- Our good mate Eddie at Cape Byron Distillery & Brookies Gin, their “slow” gin is so good.
- Laura and Brendan Carter at Unico Zelo produce progressive and fresh wines.
- Stone & Wood. But you also can’t go past the heritage and craft of Coopers beer.
- Will & the team at Archie Rose are doing really progressive things with their cold distillation process.
- The Critical Slide society, The Hemp Temple & Afends clothing brands.
- Monster Children mag.
What are some of your favourite bars and restaurants in LA and Sydney?
Steve, would have been best to answer this as he resides in LA. However, I have been there a few times. I enjoyed the Roosevelt bar, my wife & I had our engagement dinner at Cross Roads and cafe gratitude was pretty good. But I always loved stumbling upon a good burger or taco shop with cold beer & some whiskey.
Sydney bars; The Barber Shop, Old mates & Employees Only.
Sydney restaurants; Berts, Bar Elvina, Barrenjoey House, Lovat Newport.
However, my go to is a good burger, wings and beer at the Newport down in the beer garden more times than not.
If you had to pick the signature Sydney late night had a few cocktails meal, what would it be?
I have a 2-year-old son and live in Northern NSW now, so late-night Sydney sessions are few and far between. But when we do, a good old Shady pines & maybe Sammy's session is always fun.
What’s your go to CAPI Cocktail?
We have been doing Rouse, CAPI Soda, a splash of tonic & lime - super refreshing and sessionable.