Speaking to National Liquor News for its 2018 Leaders Forum issue, Colin Rochester the General Manager ANZ for William Grant & Sons (WG&S), has revealed where he sees the company’s opportunities for the year ahead and which trends he is particularly excited about.
Describing Malt Scotch whisky as an area that is underdeveloped in the Australian market, Rochester told the Leaders Forum that he sees “enormous potential” in assisting customers to premiumise their sales through building reputation and capability.
In terms of the opportunities for the year ahead, he added: “Apart from our leading brands of Glenfiddich, Hendrick’s Gin, Grant’s and The Balvenie we have a number of real emerging ‘heroes’ such as Monkey Shoulder; a blended malt Scotch, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum; Australia’s number one spiced rum and the relaunch of one of the world’s most iconic spirit brands in Drambuie.
“Apart from Scotch whisky, we also see the Irish whiskey category as an exciting one to develop. William Grant & Sons owns Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey and this year our business commenced distilling in the new plant in Tullamore. We see our Irish blend having immense appeal for the increasingly discerning and premium Australian spirit consumer.”
Looking at the ‘big trends’ for 2018, Rochester said that the company was excited about how the market was developing long term trends that work well with the WG&S portfolio.
“We get really excited about how consumers and shoppers are exploring Scotch whisky, gin and spiced rum as well as their increasing experimentation and knowledge of cocktails,” he said.
“The reason we are excited about this trend, which isn’t particularly new but is now becoming a long term trend, is that we have a portfolio of brands that tap into this need.
“As consumers premiumise, experiment and increase their knowledge of spirits, they will continue to demand quality – another key need which our portfolio satisfies. Once again this year, William Grant & Sons was named ‘Distiller of the Year’ and ‘Scotch Whisky Producer of the Year’ at the prestigious International Spirits Challenge awards and our Master Distiller; Brian Kinsman was also awarded the title ‘Master Distiller of the Year’.”
Rochester also spoke about the key factors that he thinks the industry should be discussing in 2018, saying: “There is no doubt that our industry has never been more aligned to the joint obligation of presenting and promoting beverage alcohol in a safe and responsible manner. We all have a vested interest in the sustainability of our great industry and supporting responsible commercial practices requires ongoing diligence by everyone.
“We are very fortunate to work in the industry we do – our industry is very sociable, hospitable and friendly despite being fiercely competitive – let’s keep it this way.”
And while he is excited about the year ahead, it comes off the back of a successful 2017 for WG&S, and he spoke of a number of highlights that the business was proud of.
“Firstly, the William Grant & Sons business in Australia has continued to implement its strategic change program and I’m delighted in the way our customers and team here internally have embraced the new ways in which we go to market and present our wonderful portfolio,” he said.
“As a small player in the Spirits category, we have worked very hard to engage with our customers to develop more collaborative working and trading relationships with them.
“We have continued to drive value growth for our customers’ premium spirits categories and we’re delighted that the trade feedback continues to indicate that our business is increasingly being recognised as improving in all aspects of what we do.
“The launch of the Glenfiddich Experimental Series was consolidated this year and new variants of IPA and XX have been well and truly established. Both these new and premium Glenfiddich expressions have brought new news to the malt category and have tapped in to shoppers and drinkers’ increasing knowledge and curiosity of malt Scotch Whisky.”
For more from Rochester including the major growth areas for WG&S and the challenges 2017 presented, take a look at the 2018 Leaders Forum issue of National Liquor News.