DESPITE learning to walk in potato paddocks, the youngest member of the Daly Potato Farm clan never thought she would end up working on the family farm.
In fact, the 27-year-old says running a business was the furthest thing on her mind when she left school at the end of grade 10.
“I hated school and I wasn’t very good at it. No one would have said, oh yes she’s going to go off and be in business,” Ms Daly said while on her way to Hobart’s outskirts where she is busy on her next product development for Hellfire Bluff Distillery.
Since joining the Hellfire Bluff Distillery team in 2015, Ms Daly, who is now running the business in partnership with her brother, Nathan, has been committed to driving innovation and new products.
“I think it’s important to always be looking for new ideas and new products and to be releasing these to the market about every six months,” she said.
After recently launching Hellfire’s latest product, a non-alcohol “gin” called Inspirit, she is already onto the next project, making this product portable by adding a premix and putting it in a can.
“There has been so much support for the Inspirit product, this is the next step in making it accessible and easy for people to enjoy,” she said.
The youngest of four siblings and part of a farming dynasty, the Daly family, Ruby says her parents, Susie and Gerard, encouraged all their children to go away from the farm and find their own careers, knowing the family business would always be there if they wanted to come back. She left high school and spent six years building a career in the beauty industry.
“Mum and dad were a big driver for all of us to find our own passions and do your own thing. “And while they said it would always be there, it wasn’t just a case of walking back into it.”
She said she and her brother, Nathan, who is now the other half of the business, had to earn their spot back on the farm, after completing their respective trades in the beauty and building industries.
“We had to work 10 times harder than anyone else to prove our worth,” Ruby said.
“We didn’t just get to rock up and have it handed to us. “I don’t think mum and dad were quite ready to have me involved in the distillery so I had to work out where I fitted and show what I could do.”
The Hellfire Bluff Distillery was born out of need to find a use for tonnes of waste potatoes grown on the Dalys’ Boomer Bay farm on the south-eastern coast of Tasmania.
The family has been growing potatoes there for more than three decades.
“We lived all the highs and lows and we knew we wanted more of those highs, so we had to find a way to use all the waste potatoes that weren’t able to be sold in stores.”
Potato vodka was the result and Hellfire Bluff Distillery launched onto the spirit scene at Agfest in 2016.
“Full disclosure there, I was in it for the distillery,” she said. “If mum and dad hadn’t started the distillery I wouldn’t have gone back to the farm. “I remember spending one day on the (potato) harvester and absolutely hating it.”
Despite some initial hesitation from her parents she became the marketing and sales manager for Hellfire seven years ago.
“I had zero skills, it was a case of fake it until you make it,” she laughs.
But she did have a vision and a passion to drive the distillery business forward and knew there were endless opportunities in social media and online and in growing the branding of the product.
At the time Hellfire entered the market it was the 47th business to be issued with a distillery manufacturing licence in Australia.
Now there are well over 200.
“Back then vodka was such a small market so we did start to think about what else we could do.”
Hellfire Bluff decided to branch out into the gin game.
The range now includes the original potato vodka, three core gin products, a limoncello, a coffee liquor and the recent non-alcohol gin.
“Hellfire is all about inclusion. Increasingly people are choosing to drink less alcohol or none at all and so with this product they can still be part of the party.”
As her parents step back from the farm and businesses, the siblings are taking a firmer hold of the reins.