If you go back far enough behind a lot of liquor brands, you will inevitably find the small family initiative that started it all.
Throughout the years, the business might grow and scale, making a name for itself across the world. Often when this happens over time, the growth means that it’s not just the family running the company any more. It’s rare to find a century old internationally recognised producer that still has a family member at the helm.
In the Alsace region of France, there is one – Grandes Distilleries Peureux, which is a group that incorporates Massenez. Heading up the group is President Bernaud Baud, who has a family connection to distilling at Peureux.
Baud, a distiller by trade, was dropped into the industry by his parents, who were also distillers. His father, Pierre Baud, led Peureux through a turning point as Head of Production in 1968, expanding the business and eventually becoming Chairman.
The original Peureux distillery was founded in 1864, with Massenez following close after in 1870. Baud said: “They were like twin sister companies and the two families used to work together for a long time.”
Baud took leadership of Peureux and Massenez in 2010 and set out to create something new on the brand, while also preserving the history that had seen the distilleries through great success on a global scale.
One of these heritage elements is the fact that there are just 12 employees in Massenez.
“We have Master Distillers, and the others are responsible for all the liqueur, the blending and elaborating. We have a good separation of the task, and a strong know how in fermentation, fruits treatment, distillation and aging,” Baud told Bars and Clubs.
Although they have new and modern tools, the principles of the company have remained the same, even throughout changes and growth.
Baud said: “Innovation is the key to be alive today. The idea is, how do we make our know-how modern? How could we work with this know-how to elaborate new products, but always in the same direction of the distillery?”
An example of what they’ve done is move from fruit liqueurs into other areas of the garden with their Garden Party range. After years of distilling fruit for cocktails, they realised what was missing in the market was vegetable distillations, helping bartenders innovate their mixology to trends such as savoury and gastronomic cocktails.
Baud was recently in Australia for Massenez’s 150th Anniversary, where the company celebrated with its first-ever cocktail competition. Through this competition, and his previous travels in the country, Baud said he’s noticed an innovative nature in Australia’s bar scene that shows the need for creative products like these that bartenders can experiment with.
“Australia is one of the most innovative and creative countries in the cocktail world,” Baud said. “For the finalists [in the Massenez competition], the way they built their own small story around the cocktail was amazing. I was very particularly impressed.”
As for the future, Baud again raised the challenge of how to remain modern and desirable, while also celebrating the heritage of the brand. There is something coming soon that might address this concern, and although Baud wouldn’t say exactly what it was, he did hint it would be “back to the origins” of the brand.