London is one of the nine distilleries in the first wave of Pernod Ricards Our/Vodka project

London is one of the nine distilleries in the first wave of Pernod Ricard's Our/Vodka project

Pernod Ricard has confirmed to just-drinks the closure of one of the distilleries in its Our/Vodka project, but has maintained an optimistic outlook for the localised vodka concept.

Speaking this morning, the head of Pernod's Our/Vodka division, Åsa Caap, said the company had taken the decision earlier this month to close down its Seattle activation, due in part to increased competition in the city. Caap underlined, however, that Pernod remains committed to the locally-produced vodka idea, with more US distilleries set to open in the coming months.

"It was not working for us," Caap said of the Seattle distillery, which opened 18 months ago. "We were losing money and we felt we had tried everything we could to make it work, but we were not successful. It was very hard on me and the team to make that call. But, we've had to make the decision and move on.

"It was quite a crowded market before we started," Caap added, "but, since we signed the lease, there have been another six or seven distilleries open around Seattle."

Caap said the Our/Vodka scheme, which involves Pernod backing local entrepreneurs to produce a 37.5% abv vodka to a set recipe but using local ingredients, will continue, with plans in place for three more facilities lined up in the US alone.

"The concept is not failing," she said. "We are very successful in the other cities. Berlin (which opened three years ago) has now broken even, for example, and with Detroit, we've expanded to Chicago, we're in the border shops, we're in the airport now. Also, we've just got a building permit in New York and will open the first distillery on Manhattan since prohibition."

As well as Detroit and New York, Our/Vodka operates out of Los Angeles in the US, while Miami and Houston will come online in the coming months.

Beyond the US, Caap said the division will look beyond its existing footprint, which comprises Berlin, Amsterdam and London. "Now we have the US covered," she said, "we'll look at Asia, South America… We'll look at different expansion plans for our next step."

Our/Vodka is run through Pernod's Absolut vodka unit, within which Caap leads a team of 16.