The just-drinks Interview

The just-drinks Interview

Every month, just-drinks gives a drinks executive a grilling.



"The need to open a bottle 'just to be seen' is going away" - just-drinks meets Piper-Heidsieck Champagne's global executive director, Benoit Collard 7 Jan 2019

Late last year, Champagne house Piper-Heidsieck released two expressions under its prestige cuvée brand, Rare. A bottle of Rare Le Secret High Jewellery, which costs around US$150,000, features a precious stone embedded "in the heart of interwoven bands of gold set with 510 diamonds". It was released in partnership with jeweller Mellerio. The second expression, Le Secret Goldsmith, is limited to 1,000 magnums and carries an RRP of around $1,650. Shortly after the launch, just-drinks sat down with Benoit Collard, global executive director for Piper-Heidsieck, to talk about prestige cuvée consumers and what the future holds for Piper-Heidsieck.  


"It was a lot harder without the power of Diageo behind me" - Ami-Lynn Bakshi, co-founder of Cafe Agave & former Diageo executive 4 Jan 2019

Last year, Ami-Lynn Bakshi launched one of the first alcoholic cold-brew coffee RTDs in the US, the 12.5%-abv Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew. Before helping to pioneer the hard coffee category, she spent 20 years working for Diageo in a number of roles around the world, including North American innovations head and American whiskey marketing director. Here, Bakshi tells just-drinks what she learned from her time with the spirits multinational and how those lessons are informing her new career as a beverage entrepreneur.


"We've got to be a little different and break some of the moulds" - just-drinks meets Distell CEO Richard Rushton - Part II 4 Jan 2019

Late last year, just-drinks spoke to Richard Rushton, CEO of Distell, in London. In part two of our exclusive interview, Rushton tells us about the group's plans outside of Africa and how Distell aims to become a larger player internationally, while also riding the wave in markets closer to home.


"The mainstream part of our wine portfolio is incredibly important for Africa" - just-drinks meets Distell CEO Richard Rushton - Part I 3 Jan 2019

In late-November, just-drinks met up with the CEO of Distell at the IWSC awards dinner in London. As guests filed into the banqueting hall, Richard Rushton took a pre-meal grilling from editor Olly Wehring. In part one of this exclusive, two-part interview, we consider Distell's place in the drinks industry, the group's over-reliance on South Africa and its aspirations for Africa and beyond.


Freixenet's 0% Alcohol Free Sparkling Wine - Product Launch 11 Dec 2018

Freixenet has added an alcohol-free sparkling wine to its namesake portfolio, as it looks to take advantage of 'Dry January'.


"The future isn't to get concerned about monolithic brands like Bacardi and Smirnoff, but to encourage and focus on the innovators" - Interview - Amber Beverage Group CEO Seymour Ferreira 30 Oct 2018

Amber Beverage Group is a good example of a mid-tier alcohol company. Part of the SPI Group, the company employs around 2,000 across its production sites in the Baltics, Russia, Mexico and the UK. It also distributes global brands including its own Riga Black Balsam and Moskovskaya vodkas across the world. According to CEO Seymour Ferreira, Amber prides itself on having global reach while remaining small enough to be as agile as a start-up. Earlier this month, just-drinks sat down with Ferreira to talk about how to compete with the giants of the industry, the difficulties of finding good distributors and why cannabis and low-alcohol offer attractive growth for the future.


Free Craigellachie 51 YO, Bacardi's single malts strategy and a tough stance on age statements - Interview - Bacardi's global brand director for malts, Ian Taylor 26 Oct 2018

Today, Bacardi has released a 51-year-old single malt Scotch from its Craigellachie distillery in Speyside, Scotland - the company's oldest single malt release so far. In a rare move, Bacardi has chosen to give away the expression free of charge. In an exclusive interview with just-drinks, the company's global brand director for malts, Ian Taylor, outlines the strategy behind the decision and sheds some light on Bacardi's play in single malts.


"There are lots of trends out there that people feel beer doesn't belong in" - just-drinks meets Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito - Part II 14 Jun 2018

Late last week, just-drinks editor Olly Wehring met with Anheuser-Busch InBev's CEO, Carlos Brito, in London. Among the subjects discussed by the pair during their 90 minutes together were the trends that are set to shape the beer category globally, going forward - from premiumisation to the female consumer, from food-pairing to cannabis.


"In any integration, we've always talked about three kinds of synergies. With SABMiller, there was a fourth" - just-drinks meets Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito - Part I 13 Jun 2018

Late last week, just-drinks editor Olly Wehring met with Anheuser-Busch InBev's CEO in London. A notoriously-reluctant interviewee, Carlos Brito talked for over an hour about the brewer's learnings from SABMiller, the trends set to shape the future for the beer category and which bets the group has put down on potential growth opportunities going forward.


"All of us feel a great deal of responsibility" - just-drinks meets Hector Gorosabel, Asahi Europe CEO - Part II 10 May 2018

After leading the sell-off of SABMiller's European beer brands to Asahi, Hector Gorosabel was then hired by the Japanese group to take them to a new audience, as CEO of its European office. In the second of just-drinks' two-part interview (click here for part I), Gorosabel discusses how the old SAB playbook is still in use, the challenges of brewing Asahi Super Dry in Europe, and why the health & wellness trend shouldn't frighten the beer industry.


"At SABMiller, we went through a bit of disbelief and almost denial" - just-drinks meets Hector Gorosabel, Asahi Europe CEO - Part I 8 May 2018

As the man in charge of Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Grolsch and SABMiller's other European brands sold off after its takeover, Hector Gorosabel had a front-row seat for the dismantlement of one of the world's major brewers. Then, Asahi came calling and offered him the chance to lead his former charges in a fresh direction for the Japanese giant. In a two-part interview with just-drinks, Gorosabel discusses how he came to accept his new role, and reveals the behind-the-scenes emotions as SABMiller went out of existence.


"In other companies, it would have taken us three years to do what we have done in past six months" - just-drinks meets Stoli Group CEO Hugues Pietrini 26 Feb 2018

Late last week, the head of Stoli Group, Hugues Pietrini, was in London for a few days. While in town, news & insights editor Andy Morton met him for lunch to talk about executive churn, the prospects for Stolichnaya and Stoli's continued expansion into other spirits sectors.


The Jamaica effect - How Appleton Estate is premiumising rum - Interview, Campari Group CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz, Part I 6 Feb 2018

Last month, Campari Group CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz cut the ribbon on a new US$7.2m visitors centre at the Appleton Estate rum distillery in Jamaica. Afterwards, just-drinks sat down with him to talk about how the new centre will affect the Appleton brand, what the industry can learn from Jamaica and why it may take ten more years before consumers properly understand rum's ageing process.


"Only dead fish go with the stream" - Interview, Maison Villevert CEO Jean-Sébastien Robicquet 22 Nov 2017

Earlier this week, Cognac-headquartered Maison Villevert unveiled the next chapter in the history of its G'Vine gin brand, with the relaunch of G'Vine's Nouaison expression. Ahead of the event, just-drinks deputy editor Lucy Britner sat down with Maison Villevert CEO Jean-Sébastien Robicquet to talk about why the brand needed to change and what the future holds for Maison Villevert.


"We really want to change the perception of Tequila with Altos" - Pierre-Aymeric du Cray, VP of Pernod Ricard's House of Tequila 26 Sep 2017

Earlier in September, Pernod Ricard hosted the seventh annual The Tahona Society competition - a bartender programme under its Altos Tequila brand. The 2017 session saw 25 bartenders from 17 markets gather in Jalisco, Mexico, along with journalists and bloggers from all over the world. Lucy Britner was there to talk to VP House of Tequila Pierre-Aymeric du Cray.


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