Prior to coming to Australia, Benjamin Lovric's grandfather was a renowned distiller in his home country of Croatia.
After fleeing his homeland, Mr Lovric's grandfather passed on his talents to Mr Lovric's father, and now the family trade has passed to the third generation.
But in this case, rather than brewing traditional rakija, Mr Lovric has turned his heritage to the tastes of the current generation and started production of an alcoholic seltzer, named Island Mist.
Now, the "guilt free" sparkling seltzer distilled in Unanderra is on the shelves at national retailers BWS and Dan Murphy's.
The beverage is the first alcoholic drink from Unanderra drinks company Wild One, known for its range of juices and kombucha.
Mr Lovric, who joined the business as a marketing manager, knew there was room for a new entrant into the increasingly crowded alcoholic seltzer market, and one that could bottle a positive spirit.
"I worked in bars for years and years and I knew if there was a product that tasted good, that was sugar free, preservative free and gluten free, and was 100 per cent renewable energy powered, that would resonate with health conscious consumers," he said.
The Unanderra factory housing Wild One's operations sits beneath an array of solar panels and is fully powered by renewable energy, and combining this with a sugar free seltzer that was distilled, rather than brewed, in a nod to Mr Lovric's heritage, created the ethos behind the drink.
The seltzer is six per cent alcohol by volume, slightly higher than other competitors in its category, bucking the trend in the drinks space to tend towards low or no alcohol options.
"It gives you that party element without the guilt," Mr Lovric said.
After pounding the pavement, getting the product into local bars and independent retailers, the beverage began to make a name for itself, and was recently stocked by major national retailers. Now the team is making around 6000 litres every six to eight weeks.
So far, the most popular flavour has been passionfruit, and the business has kept tinkering with the formula to get the balance across the four flavours right.
Ultimately, however, the drink is a product of the Illawarra, combining the makers' heritage with the laidback lifestyle of the region, Mr Lovric said.
"We take the elements of what we love about Wollongong, and we put that into our products. We want it to be the best, because we come from the best area."
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