Pepijn Janssens previously worked for Diageo

Pepijn Janssens previously worked for Diageo

Pernod Ricard is to expand its Our/Vodka project, allowing the distilleries set up under the scheme to sell outside of their home countries for the first time.

The company said today it has appointed an international commercial director, Pepijn Janssens, to lead the sales expansion.

Åsa Caap, Founder & CEO of Our/Vodka, said "When we opened the first distillery in Berlin back in 2013, we started to get international sales requests almost immediately. We wanted to add more distilleries to the family before exploring this further. With five distilleries, and four more on its way, we believe the timing is just right to bring Pepijn Janssens on board."

Janssens has previously worked for Diageo, Luxco and Freixenet. Before joining Pernod he was with MAS Wines & Spirits as international commercial director.

The Our/Vodka scheme involves Pernod backing local entrepreneurs to produce a 37.5% abv vodka to a set recipe but using local ingredients. Each project is given an initial investment of EUR1m (US$1.1m), while the local partner takes 20% of any profits. Distilleries are currently running in Berlin, Seattle, Detroit, Amsterdam and London. Los Angeles, Miami and New York are coming later this year, with Houston to follow next year.

Despite the small scale of the distilleries, organisers have been keen to distance themselves from the term craft spirits. Speaking to just-drinks last year, Caap said that craft is an "abused" term in the spirits industry and causes confusion among consumers.

"I'm tired of the word craft," Caap said. "It's over-used. You can't fool consumers."