[Exclusive interview]: French triple malt challenges world whiskey

Big gains in whisky consumption worldwide are forecast by Vinexpo research partner The IWSR in the run up to 2022*. World whiskies, ie other than Scotch, will account for agrowing share. Guillaume Mastellotto, Commercial Director, describes how French triple malt whiskey brand Bellevoye plans to show that France can produce whiskies of the highest quality.

* IWSR/Vinexpo Report 2012-2022

Q: Please describe the marketing and sales goals of the Bellevoye range over the next three years
A: It is a whisky which is crafted, authentic, and the result of thorough research. A rigorous selection process was carried out at the three best French distilleries. Through blending three whiskies from three different distilleries, each chosen for the originality of its product, BELLEVOYE achieves the sought-for ideal balance. The objective is to show the world that France can legitimately produce whiskies of the highest quality, since it has all the necessary components. We want to create the first big brand of French triple malt whisky.

 Q: What are the major challenges to launching a new range of French made and blended whiskies?
A: France is mainly known for its Cognac, Armagnac and brandies but not about   whiskies. We have to convince the world that we are creating a French whisky that does not exist on the market. A whisky, which is elegant, subtle, unpeated, smooth and balanced.

 Q: Where are the whiskies positioned in terms of price?
There are four single malt whiskies in the range:
BELLEVOYE BLUE (40%) is priced at 39€ inc VAT and is a blend of 3 to 8 years old single malt whiskies, finished in French fine grain casks
BELLEVOYE WHITE (40%) is priced at 49€ inc VAT; it is a blend of 3 to 8 years old single malt whiskies, finished in Sauternes casks.
BELLEVOYE RED (43%) priced at 59€ inc VAT is blended from 5 to 10 years old single    malt whiskies, finish in red wine casks from Saint-Emilion.
BELLEVOYE BLACK (43%) and priced at 59€ inc VAT is blended from 5 to 10 years old peated single malt whiskies, finished in French fine grain casks.


Q: What marketing strategies are in place?
A: The only reality of this market is that you have to make people taste our products everyday and everywhere in the world. The only key factor of success is to find the right partners. i.e importers and distributors that want to be part of this new success story. We don’t launch a product if it’s not above the competition. We are teaching our partners this game plan with their final customers.

Q: Do you plan to distribute through the on and off trades simultaneously?
A: This is what we do. We have distributors specialized in the on and off trade in most of the countries where we have partners. We have brands for off-trade like BELLEVOYE and EL PASADOR DE ORO (Guatemalan rum finished in Cognac casks) but    we also have brands for on-trade premises like EMBARGO (original blend of Agricole  rum and molasses rums from 4 different Caribbean terroirs) and PARATI (premium cachaça).

Q:  What constraints/opportunities are there to growing sales overseas?
A:   We are already in more than 20 countries but there are opportunities everywhere. In the near future, Asia will probably be the big area for our French whiskies. They love our French Cognac. They will adore our French whiskies.

Q: How important is trade and consumer education in establishing the range/what education programmes are in place?
A: We are training our partners (importers/distributors) on the specificities of our products so that final consumers understand the differences between our 4 products. We are making masterclasses in wonderful liquor stores in Germany, China, Netherlands, USA and Canada. This is not even a brand-awareness issue. This is a “market-awareness” issue. We have to explain to the trade and the final consumers that France is now on the map of the whisky world.

Company background: Set up in 2013, founders Jean Moueix and Alexandre Sirech, seek to satisfy the French desire to drink a national whisky, as shown by the dramatic growth of home-grown distilleries.