W.J. Deutsch & Sons has teamed up with Cognac Ferrand to create a spirits division in the US.

The wine importer and marketer said late last week that Jean-Francois Bonneté, formerly director of North America for Ferrand, will become senior vice president of spirits. Bonneté will report directly in to Deutsch's president, Jim Mello.

The unit will represent Ferrand's Landy Cognac brand, which retails at between US$20 and $24 per bottle, across the country.

"Entering into the spirits industry is a landmark moment for W.J. Deutsch & Sons," said Deutsch's chairman, Bill Deutsch. "We are industry leaders in consumer brand development and marketing, with an unprecedented record for gaining high-visibility distribution and building premium brands throughout both the on- and off-premise."

Deutsch's CEO, Peter Deutsch, added: "Our initial focus will be to develop a strong portfolio of spirits brands, hand selected from suppliers who are committed to delivering premium quality, innovative products for today's consumer.

"Over the next three to five years we will concentrate on selling these products through a committed distributor network, and applying our extensive marketing expertise to build these brands into stars of the spirits industry."

Among W.J. Deutsch's wine portfolio in the US is Australia's Yellow Tail, and Italy's Ste Chapelle.