YOUNG BLOOD

Al­fred Coin­treau, the 30-year-old scion of the Coin­treau em­pire, is part of a wave of youth­ful head hon­chos charged with en­gag­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of tip­plers who are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated in their tastes.

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Global Luxury - By JOSH SIMS

A lfred Coin­treau is the sixth gen­er­a­tion to work for t he f amed t riple s ec drink of the same name - charged with ex­press­ing and build­ing on the long her­itage of the fam­ily-run brand that is more than 160 years old.

Be­ing the sixth-gen­er­a­tion Coin­treau must be chal­leng­ing?

When I joined the com­pany five years ago, a lot of peo­ple won­dered if the pres­sure of be­ing a Coin­treau would be too much, but I’ve come to know the busi­ness from the ground up, in­clud­ing work­ing on the bot­tling line. Of course, it’s still my name on those bot­tles, so there’s an in­cen­tive to not do any­thing stupid. That said, ev­ery gen­er­a­tion wants to rep­re­sent it­self dif­fer­ently. In fact, the Coin­treau bot­tle shape was rad­i­cal for its time and that was de­signed by Edouard Coin­treau, the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion, when he was still young too.

How does your gen­er­a­tion view your prod­uct?

A drink like Coin­treau is much more than the drink now - it’s the his­tory, the pre­sen­ta­tion, the chat with the bar­tender. Gen­er­ally, peo­ple want to know what they’re buy­ing.

“The Coin­treau bot­tle shape was rad­i­cal for its time.”

The drinks in­dus­try is more fo­cused on the small scale now. Is that a prob­lem for a global brand?

We’re part of an in­dus­try that is see­ing a boom in mi­cro brew­ers and craft dis­tillers, that cel­e­brates the lo­cal and the spe­cial rather than just the big in­ter­na­tional brands, so we have to keep that in mind. We launched Coin­treau Noir on that ba­sis. It’s from a 1903 recipe and is more a con­nois­seur’s drink, ap­peal­ing to those who en­joy a rum or whisky neat with ice.

You’re al­ways on the move, telling the Coin­treau story. What have you learned?

When you travel as much as I do, you re­alise just how dif­fer­ent the at­ti­tudes to drink are be­tween cul­tures and coun­tries. The French, for ex­am­ple, still ed­u­cate their chil­dren from a young age to drink with a meal. In the US, it’s more about cock­tails. So it’s al­ways a chal­lenge to make Coin­treau rel­e­vant to dif­fer­ent ways of drink­ing. We’re lucky in that it’s so ver­sa­tile. You can use Coin­treau in your cook­ing, have an aper­i­tif while you cook, a di­ges­tif af­ter and then a cock­tail later.

In­evitably you must drink a lot. How do you cope?

When you have Coin­treau in your blood you de­velop a re­sis­tance to al­co­hol. I get of­fered a lot of drinks so I tend just to sip and not fin­ish many of them. When I started with the com­pany I quickly learned to drink a lot of wa­ter - one glass for ev­ery glass of any­thing with al­co­hol in it. It works. I only have one or two hang­overs a year. A good cock­tail helps me get over those.

Coin­treau is one of those drinks that has claimed to be the prod­uct of a se­cret recipe. How of­ten are you asked to re­veal it?

For me, look­ing af­ter the her­itage of the brand is based on an idea that came from my grand­fa­ther. When

“I get of­fered a lot of drinks so I tend just to sip and not fin­ish many of them.”

I was 11 he de­cided it was time I knew the recipe for Coin­treau. I was very ex­cited at be­ing let into this big se­cret. So, he told me all the in­gre­di­ents and there was noth­ing un­usual. He turned to me and said: ‘What did you ex­pect - that we put flour in it or some­thing?!’ I was a bit dis­ap­pointed. But the les­son there was that it’s not about the in­gre­di­ents. It’s about the art of dis­till­ing. That’s what’s im­por­tant to main­tain through the gen­er­a­tions.

EN­GAG­ING A YOUNGER AU­DI­ENCE

The Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret cat­walk show is per­haps not the most ob­vi­ous place to cel­e­brate a drinks brand - un­less you’re tar­get­ing younger peo­ple. That’s the think­ing at vodka com­pany Ciroc ( www. ciroc.com), which launched its On Ar­rival cam­paign with a spe­cial- edi­tion Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret bot­tle.

But Ciroc is not alone in seek­ing to tap a younger de­mo­graphic. Martell ( www. martell. com), for in­stance, cre­ated Martell NCF ( Non Chill Fil­tered), specif­i­cally for mil­len­ni­als. It’s fil­tered at room tem­per­a­ture to cre­ate a cognac that is ideal as a mixer, no­tably smooth and, as the com­pany puts it, “de­li­ciously easy”.

In­deed, while the spir­its in­dus­try is wak­ing up to the idea that con­tem­po­rary pack­ag­ing and im­age mat­ters to younger drinkers - Martell teamed up with DJS and hiphop artists for its Sin­ga­pore launch last Novem­ber - it is also recog­nis­ing that the drink it­self some­times has to ap­peal to, as it were, a less­de­vel­oped palate.

Not that younger drinkers are nec­es­sar­ily un­so­phis­ti­cated.

A Min­tel re­port con­cludes that mil­len­ni­als are driv­ing de­mand for craft beer.

The same group is said to be be­hind the boom in craft bour­bons, which are pre­dicted to be the fastest grow­ing spir­its world­wide over the next five years.

Cer­tainly some brands are go­ing all in to make sure they chime with this pro­gres­sive con­sumer seg­ment.

Last Jan­uary, Bac­ardi ( www. bac­ardilim­ited. com) ap­pointed a global mil­len­ni­als man­ager, tasked not only with tar­get­ing th­ese con­sumers, but - cru­cial to fu­ture suc­cess, it ar­gues - also get­ting more of them to work for it. ™

Martell, for in­stance, cre­ated Martell NCF ( Non Chill Fil­tered), specif­i­cally for mil­len­ni­als.

The fresh­ness of the orange flavour min­gles with the vel­vety smooth ca­ress of cognac in Coin­treau Noir.

From top: Coin­treau’s dis­tillery in Angers; Al­fred Coin­treau.

Martell NCF is char­ac­terised by its ex­cep­tion­ally fresh, lively style, with sen­sual hints of apricot jam and vanilla.

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