A unique new product born from a partnership between FNQ Spirits and Skybury has taken out a huge international accolade.

The two local companies’ Papaya Vodka, also known as Croc Vodka, was among 20-odd other products from around the world to win top awards at the 2021 Vodka Masters in London this month.

Winning a ‘Master’ award in the ‘Rest of the World’ category – excluding Russia, Europe and Scandinavia – the product scored between 90 and 100 points in a blind tasting.


The judging panel described the drink to have an “interesting, Aussie gin‐like nose” and “clean and crisp” flavour.

Distiller Troy Read of FNQ Spirits told Tropic Now the collaboration with Mareeba-based farm is a mutually beneficial in more ways than one.

“I first made a coffee liqueur with Skybury a couple of years ago, but over time we found more ways to use their by-products,” he said.


“They’re either too big or too small, or there’s a blemish on skin, but it’s perfect fruit.

“It works as the farm is sustainably getting rid of waste, and I’m able to make really good stuff.”

The vodka, which Mr Read describes as “really palatable”, doesn’t have a distinct papaya flavour but is slightly sweeter than others distilled from non-fruit bases.  

“A large proportion of vodka, I’d say over 50 per cent around the world, is made from sugar,” he said.

“We still use some sugar, but we add quite a bit of papaya too to form the base.

“We add it to the ferment stage, at the beginning of the process, which makes the yeast’s work easier.”


The product had actually achieved international recognition two other times, all within twelve months of its launch.

It won silver medals at the Melbourne International Spirits Competition and the London Spirits Competition earlier this year.

Other local producers Mt. Uncle Distillery, Wolf Lane Distillery and Devils Thumb Distillery also took home awards among their range of gin, rum and liqueurs.

FNQ Spirits’ range of rum and whisky topped the competition in both sets of awards too.

The partnership between Skybury and FNQ Spirits extends to five different products – an espresso liqueur, an espresso and papaya fusion liqueur, a papaya and passionfruit liqueur, a papaya schnapps, and the papaya vodka.

You can buy the products online from both companies’ websites, as well as in some Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores.

local business
Each week they have tons of papayas that can’t be sold on the market.
Troy Read
FNQ Spirits
As far as I know, there isn’t any other vodka on the planet distilled from papaya.”
Troy Read
FNQ Spirits