Is Pernod Ricard buying Malfy for the flavour? - just-drinks thinks

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Earlier today, Pernod Ricard announced its intention to purchase the Malfy Gin brand from New York-based company Biggar & Leith. The brand will join Pernod's ever-growing gin stable, which includes Beefeater, Plymouth, Monkey 47 and Ungava.

Malfy Gins range comprises Originale, Con Limone, Gin Rosa and Con Arancia

Malfy Gin's range comprises Originale, Con Limone, Gin Rosa and Con Arancia

Why does the company want another gin brand? It's all about the nature of the flavour.

Malfy's flavoured range, which backs an original gin expression, comprises Con Limone (lemon flavour), Con Arancia (blood orange) and Gin Rosa (pink grapefruit): a considered and logical list of tastes that relate directly to the brand's Italian home. Or to use their words, the Malfy brand boasts "Italian juniper, coastal grown Italian lemons and Sicilian blood oranges and pink grapefruits".

By having flavours that connect the brand to a place, Malfy (so far) sidesteps the charge of being 'yet-another-flavoured-gin'.

At 41% abv and an RRP of US$29.99 per bottle, the brand also offers a premium to Pernod's Beefeater flavours, for example.

So far, Beefeater has rolled out the Blood Orange and Strawberry variants - both 37.5% and both around the US$18 mark. The Strawberry launch came first, in fashionable Millennial pink. The iteration launched last year to 12 markets including the UK, Spain, Australia, the Netherlands and Turkey, prior to a global roll-out. Blood Orange followed a year later, exclusive to the UK and Ireland.

Elsewhere in the Pernod portfolio, Plymouth sits more in the traditional camp, with extensions so far limited to Sloe and Navy Strength.

With 47 botanicals, Monkey 47 arguably doesn't need any more complications and flavour extensions from its Distiller's Cut series focus on expensive, small batch runs such as Monkey 47 Red Mustard Cress, which launched last year in a limited run of 4,000 bottles, priced GBP77 (US$100) each.

Ungava, meanwhile, centres around 'rare botanicals from the Canadian north".

Analysts at Societe Generale suggest Malfy is a circa 100,000-case brand, with distribution in markets including the UK, US and Germany. While 100,000 cases might not move mountains for a company the size of Pernod, Malfy does provide the group with an authentic flavour range that will make logical sense to consumers.

As the gin category swells and matures, the fight for a USP will continue to encourage innovation around flavour. Considering the boom in vodka variants over the past decade (Whipped Cream and Wedding Cake, anyone?), Pernod's tentative steps into flavour with Beefeater coupled with this week's purchase of Malfy, bodes well for the future of gin at Pernod.

Falling out with flavour - when is a gin not a gin? - Click here for a just-drinks comment

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