Gruppo Campari has become a major force in the global drinks industry. Patience Gould looks back on its humble beginnings
A scotch whisky distiller, when asked recently if he made any blends, was gloriously sniffy and dismissive of blended whisky. It would have been interesting to see and hear what he would have made of the Johnnie Walker Directors Blends, which I got to taste last Thursday (November 28) in London.
I have just returned from the celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of Havana Club International. Standing in a huge hall with more than 1,000 people – mostly employees but also people associated with the company and the eponymous Cuban rum brand – it became obvious what a force for good an alcoholic drinks brand can be.
Last night I was at the London Gin Summit, which, contrary to its lofty title, was a relatively low-key meeting of drinks commentators and producers bound by a common craft, encircled by a common road (...the M25). The premise for the summit was the question: ‘should London-distilled gin be protected?’ and this is what happened...
There’s something quite transfixing – almost hypnotic – when it comes to looking at the latest brand figures for spirits around the world. You cannot stop. More particularly so as there seems to be so much cause for celebration in the 2011 round-up. There’s Johnnie Walker scotch whisky on an incredible 18 million cases; the Irish whiskey Jameson’s posting a 20%-plus increase and now nudging the 4 million case-mark, well I could go on, and on. But one result has really warmed the cockles of my heart – and that’s William Grant’s single malt scotch whisky Glenfiddich.
I went to two whisky launches yesterday (May 8) – Bacardi’s Glen Deveron, the Royal Burgh Collection and Pernod Ricard/Chivas Brothers’ The Glenlivet Alpha. Both interesting for different reasons and very much a case of ‘chalk & cheese’ when it comes to the brand and what they are doing with it.
What makes this job interesting is going out, meeting, interviewing people and finding out what makes them tick. That along with visiting vineyards, wineries, distilleries and, to a lesser extent, breweries to find out what they are up to, is what makes the likes of me get out of bed in the morning.