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Stéphane Morizet, Marketing Director Global Travel Retail, Brown-Forman, Interviewed

Peter Marshall (PM):  Stéphane, welcome to TRunblocked.com. This is the first feature we have done with Brown-Forman, so I’d like to start by asking you to briefly cover the key business dynamics and trends of the global TR spirits sector as you see them and where Brown-Forman sits within it.

Stéphane Morizet (SM):  Thank you, Peter. It is indeed exciting to finally connect with you and TRUnblocked to discuss the developments coming out of our (ever evolving) TR business.

I would be remiss to begin this discussion without first acknowledging the resiliency of the Brown-Forman Travel Retail division in the face of the many challenges we have confronted these past few years. It is because of the agility demonstrated by this team that we are able to sit here and talk today about our key strategic approach and trends in the Spirits industry. So, where to start? 

This year the Travel Retail sector saw advancements in the worlds of the digital retail space, brand advocacy, and environmental sustainability, to name just a few. These topics have emerged as key strategic pillars that are deeply important both to us as a company, and to the consumer. 

We believe that our answer to travelers in search of something better can be found in our brands, our brand stories, and ultimately our authenticity as a spirits company that has over 150 years of experience in the business. These strategic pillars have shaped the way we put bottles on shelves in airports across the world. The travel retail shopper is often looking for super premium spirits with a story to tell, and you’ll find that our newest travel retail exclusives (and innovation to come) provide exactly this. A good drink to share with friends, and an even better story to tell. 

PM: I’d like to start with Tennessee Travelers. This is currently a TR exclusive with Heinemann. What is the background to this launch and its key differentiators as a product?

SM:  The Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Travelers series was created in the spirit of Mr. Jack Daniel and his adventurous spirit at heart. The Tennessee Travelers series (made up of two expressions Bold & Spicy, and Sweet & Oaky) were designed for the whiskey drinkers with this exact attitude.

The two expressions were created in close collaboration with Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller, Chris Fletcher. Chris has since said that this new addition to the Jack Daniel’s Family of Brands pays homage to the brand’s desire for people across the globe to enjoy our Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

Chris Fletcher, Master Distiller, Jack Daniel’s

Tennessee Travelers “Sweet and Oaky” highlights caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak flavors derived from our hand-crafted barrels. While the Tennessee Travelers “Bold and Spicy” leads with the flavor provided from grains, with notes of caramel, baking spices, and a peppery finish. 

PM: Moving on, Benriach is a range of single malt whiskies. You have recently  added some important new expressions. I have three key questions here. What are the new varieties? Given the proliferation and competition of quality, single malts in the sector, how can they find the right place on the shelf? And, finally,  how are you performing –  just how has the TR business reacted? 

SM:  Our range includes Benriach Quarter Cask, Benriach Smoky Quarter Cask, Benriach Triple Distilled Ten yo and our oldest ever triple distilled expression, Benriach Triple Distilled 22 YO.

In the spirits world, in order to stand out you need to bring a unique proposition and amazing quality. Benriach is an eclectic/creative Speyside Distillery, known for marrying heritage and innovation. With the recent launch of our four expressions, we showcase the marriage of tradition and creativity. 

We embody the tradition from the practice of triple distilling small batches, a practice which is continued only once a year at the distillery. On the other hand, Rachel Barrie, our Master Blender, plays with different casks finishes, sizes of casks and also we offer to the consumers a range of Aged statements and Non-aged statements, all having flavour prolificity at its core.

Dr Rachel Barrie, Master Blender, Benriach

Since our relaunch, we have experienced strong growth and have received appraisals from our customers and consumers. This high praise reinforces our ultimate goal to continue to invest our efforts in the Benriach world of flavour and to keep innovating.

PM: And so to Irish Whiskey and Slane Extra Sherry Wood, Brown-Forman’s most recent launch of Slane’s well-regarded Wood series. Can you provide some details of its DNA and how you see its place in TR.

SM: Slane’s Wood Series was created with the overall aim to demonstrate the impact of different casks on the taste of our core blend of Slane Irish Whiskey. Slane Extra Sherry Wood is a special blend, created using Slane Distillery’s triple casking method with a more pronounced sherry character. This approach allows the development of a full and complex depth of flavour in Slane Extra Sherry Wood. 

The SKU was released initially as a Aer Rianta exclusive, and is currently only available at The Loop in Dublin and Cork Airports and Slane Distillery Homeplace. As the Super Premium Irish Whiskey segment expands, Slane Extra Sherry Wood will expand with it — starting in 2023, it will become available in more outlets across the world, but will remain a Global Travel Retail Exclusive. 

PM: One final question that I simply  have to ask, and it’s all about your most recently announced partnership with Coca-Cola. Now, as we know, they recently went on record to say that they were to continue to develop ‘experiments’ with some liquor companies. Your partnership is clearly no ‘experiment’ with the launch of Jack and Coke, a ready-to-drink cocktail. Do tell us more…. Actually tell us everything! 

SM: It is true indeed that the news of our global agreement with Coca-Cola spread rapidly throughout the spirits and drinks industry, as well as our travel retail business.

 As stated by our CEO, Lawson Whiting, in the most recent press release, this global relationship brings together “two classic American icons to deliver consumers a taste experience they love”.

Lawson Whiting, CEO, Jack Daniel’s has said that the global relationship between his company and Coca-Cola will bring together
‘’ two classic American icons to deliver consumers a taste experience they love’’.

With this being said, the Jack Daniel’s & Coca-Cola RTD will be shared with friends around the world –  beginning in the Mexico domestic markets in 2022.

For over 150 years, Brown-Forman Corporation has enriched the experience of life by responsibly building fine quality beverage alcohol brands, including Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee RTDs, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Coopers’ Craft, The GlenDronach, Benriach, Glenglassaugh, Slane, Herradura, el Jimador, New Mix, Korbel, Sonoma-Cutrer, Finlandia, Chambord, and Fords Gin. Brown-Forman’s brands are supported by approximately 5,200 employees and sold in more than 170 countries worldwide. For more information about the company, please visit www.brown-forman.com.