Independence Pays Off for Edrington

It’s been a full year since Edrington launched Edrington Americas, its wholly owned sales, marketing and distribution company for the U.S. market. I talked to Raul Gonzalez (pictured above), Marketing Director for single malts at Edrington, about the transition and what the company is working on next.

BD: What has the past year been like for you and your team?

RZ: Excellent. We’ve managed to not only start our own operations and have all our distributor partnerships in place, but we did it while our brands maintained their growth. The Macallan is growing double digit year over year, so we’re very happy with the results and excited about the future.

BD: What differentiates Edrington from other spirits suppliers?

RZ: I would start with our values. We’re all about great people, great brands and always giving more. On our luxury brands, we have a very talented pool of individuals. We’re very passionate about our brands, and we don’t publicize this a lot, but we partner with a number of charities around the globe. We’re very proud of that.

BD: Same question for The Macallan: What differentiates it from other Scotches?

RZ: I would consider it the King of Scotch. There are several reasons I think that – it’s the most premium Scotch on the market, plus it holds the record for the most expensive bottle sold at auction. It’s also not comparable with any other brand’s wood quality, since we have more than 90% of the Sherry oak casks in the whisky industry. That gives us a very different profile, with a characteristic flavor that’s created using natural coloring. It’s really unlike any other Scotch band.

BD: What marketplace trends are most impacting the Scotch category right now?

RZ: Consumers are searching for meaningful luxury – in particular younger consumers are diving deeper into provenance and history, caring more about the roots of the brands they consume. They want to understand not only how a product is made, but where it’s made and what its intrinsic values are. Consumers searching for substance have definitely helped The Macallan become the brand we are today.

BD: How are you working with the trade to ensure your message reaches retailers, and ultimately consumers?

RZ:: We have a complete marketing program, including brand ambassadors in key markets who educate consumers and work with retailers and sales forces on brand dedication. Our brand grows through recommendations, word-of-mouth and trial in the on-premise, so our brand ambassador job is key. We know we have two audiences – the consumers who try our brand and the retailers who recommend our brand. So we work to maintain the attention of both audiences. You can’t just concentrate on one or the other – we’re very careful about that.

BD: What’s next for Edrington in the coming year?

RZ: Right now our new launches are out. We have Rare Cask, which is the most-supported launch ever for us in the U.S. and the results have been fantastic. We have a product that retailers for about $300 and it’s flying. We’ll focus on that for the rest of the year for The Macallan. For Highland Park we just released Odin, which is the last expression in the Valhalla Collection, and we’re running out of product faster than we expected. Those two products are our key innovations for the year and we’re very happy about how they’ve been received by consumers and the trade.

Jeremy Nedelka is managing editor of Beverage Dynamics and StateWays magazines.

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