L’Maestro, The Liquor Master in Killara is a boutique bottle shop that many KL members swear by. We caught up with owner Chris Goodwin to find out what makes his bottles the best… 

“I’m a sommelier. I studied wine, beer and spirits, and have worked as an industry professional for over 20 years. I started in hospitality, finished my HSC and moved into proper restaurants. I really liked food and wine. I had a great sense of smell and taste, and trained as a sommelier. After working in management for various companies, I chose retail because it’s more conducive to family life and doesn’t compromise on quality.

I taste all my products to understand the quality of ingredients and flavours present. I taste 60 to 80 wines per week! But I spit them out. We have to. Otherwise we’d spend the days inebriated. The advantage is confidence in quality. 

There’s significant difference between labels in popular bottle shops compared to L’Maestro. Branded products are mass-produced whereas with smaller names, techniques are critical. Big names use all kinds of additives: acids, concentrates, flavourings, tannins, sulphites, and preservatives. These mean side effects like acid reflux, hangovers or that heavy feeling people get, even if a small amount is consumed. 

Right now Australia is making some of the best wines and spirits I’ve ever seen, and it’s happening at smaller wineries. But they’re at risk of being strangled out of the market. When a small producer gains popularity, big business offers a buy-out. It’s hard to refuse, because the struggle to stay open is real. If accepted, the corporation industrialises the product to meet short-term profit targets. 

Small producers live in a worrying scenario. We’re good at our specialties. Yet corporations take customers with convenience and big marketing budgets, leaving us with the knowledge that our product is superior, but unsure if our livelihood is sustainable. 

Some of the other unseen or challenging aspects are consumer awareness. Small business support is critical because without support, we will actually disappear. I want people to understand that their dollar matters. Spending it on product from smaller producers means great talent stays in the industry. 

The second big thing is that boutique wine and spirits are assumed to be more expensive. That’s incorrect. What you will get is higher quality and better product for your dollar. Small producers are making amazing products, and I find them so I can introduce customers to quality they’ve never tasted before. New things are always coming into my shop. I keep records of customer purchases so it’s easy to pick up another bottle, chat about what someone liked or didn’t, and try something new. 

It’s always rewarding to talk with people who are interested. It’s also satisfying to see customers become more discerning about what they drink. We have incredible customers. Some of them drive quite a distance for the quality the shop offers. We often hear, “The $20 I spent here was better than $30 big name.” or “If you move to a new location, we’ll follow you!”. We’re always keen to further develop our local clientele!”

L’Maestro, The Liquor Master can be found in East Killara at 7/50 Koola Ave, East Killara. First time customers referencing this article will receive 10% off their initial purchase.
*This offer is valid from November 18 to December 18 on wines and spirits excluding vintage or rare.

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