Authenticity, transparency and proximity are increasionsumers, and contribute to meeting the growing demand for smaller‑scale, local, artisanal and ultra‑premium products. In 2019 the Group launched the newest category in our portfolio, Specialty brands (see House of Brands pp. 24-25).
Over the last few years, the acquisition of majority stakes in several Specialty brands has leveraged this strong consumer trend by extending their profile first in their home territories and then further afield thanks to our global distribution network.
« These distinctive brands are initially acquired through a majority stake in the company, with thengly important to c founder and/or CEO staying in place for several years to allow the brand to benefit from our ecosystem while preserving its unique identity and relying on the talent and passion of its/their founder(s) to grow the brand through our unique global distribution network. The aim for us is to become ultimately the full owner of the brand and its related operations after a few years,» explains Philippe Prouvost, Group Global Head of Strategy and M&A.
This portfolio of singular craft spirits creates strong ties to our communities in a category that usually outpaces the industry average.
BRANDS IN THE SPECIALTY PORTFOLIO
+ 7 %
GROWTH IN FY20
Top‑trending Italicus is an exciting addition. This premium low‑ABV spirit from Italy is a modern take on traditional rosolio, an Italian liqueur made by infusing flowers and spices in alcohol. The reinvented version by mixologist and spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo uses native botanicals such as Sicilian lemons and Calabrian bergamot oranges blended in a distillation of Italian grains with macerated lavender, gentian, yellow rose and lemon balm from northern Italy and chamomile from Lazio at a family‑owned distillery near Turin.
Adding to the artisanal Smooth Ambler from West Virginia, the Group has continued to expand its American whiskey and bourbon portfolio.
Rabbit Hole is a Kentucky straight bourbon that sprung from both the imagination and the talent of Kaveh Zamanian, a former psychologist who left Chicago to follow his passion by setting up a brand and a distillery in the heart of Louisville. While inspired by the spirit’s rich past, Rabbit Hole takes a creative approach to whiskey‑making, reflected by the ultra‑modern and state-of-the art distillery where visitors can sip this ultra‑premium and very unique bourbon or whiskey neat or in cocktails in a rooftop bar where contemporary art exhibitions take place on a regular basis.
Another Louisville-based brand is Jefferson’s Bourbon. This small batch production was named, by its creators Trey Zoeller and his father Chet, after the third American president who embodied both “independence and sophistication”. This family brand seeks out new and aged barrels of bourbon from established distilleries which they blend and experiment with through different processes – including aging bourbon at sea for 18 months and letting the movement of the waves work its magic.
TX, whose Texas straight bourbon is made from yellow dent corn and soft red winter wheat sourced an hour south of the distillery, is fermented with a wild yeast strain captured from a Texas pecan. True to terroir, the bottle itself represents old‑fashioned Texan craftsmanship, with each leather-covered cap made from repurposed cowboy boots and saddles donated by the community. Also adding to its authenticity, its creators Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson, TX chose to build their distillery on a famous old Texan golf course.
In our specialty gins, Monkey 47 was joined in 2019 by Malfy, an Italian gin infused with native botanicals including lemons from the Amalfi coast, and the craft Japanese gin KI NO BI in 2020. Artisanal gin-making is very new in Japan. Created by Marcin Miller and David Croll, KI NO BI is a pioneer in Kyoto, using local botanicals such as yuzu, hinoki cypress, bamboo, gyokuro tea and sansho pepper distilled in a rice-spirit base at the Kyoto Distillery in a process that seeks konwa – the attainment of harmony through blending of several ingredients which are distilled separately. Gin enthusiasts can learn about the ingredients and philosophy of the brand in the House of KI NO BI, a traditional 100‑year‑old machiya townhouse with earthen walls, beams and roof tiles and furniture made by local craftsmen.
Our latest collaboration is Ojo de Tigre, an ultra‑premium mezcal by Casa Lumbre. Crafted according to ancient traditions by cooking the agave in earthen pits and then distilling it in clay pots, this farm‑to‑bottle mezcal is made from sustainably sourced Espadín agave from Oaxaca and Tobalá agave from Pueblao, resulting in a smooth, sweet, herbal profile.