Comte de Grasse made waves with its packaging design and novel approach to distillation with the launch of its first gin, 44°N, in November 2018. Bhagath Reddy, founder and ceo of the Grasse-based company, talks to Formes de Luxe about his development plans for other spirits.
The packaging for 44°N stood out among other launches last year.
Yes, our aim was to create something totally disruptive for the category. From a packaging perspective we wanted the packaging to reflect the brand’s roots and transport the consumer to the Cote d’Azur. The blue bottle’s textured surface (produced by Stoelzle) is meant to recall the ripples of light on the sea. To obtain this effect, a sculptor hand-carved the inside of the mold with a hammer and a chisel (rather than a CNC machine), which imparted an irregular and spontaneous motif to the glass. The design was a collaboration between two agencies: Force Majeure in New York and Chic in Paris.
We chose to integrate an NFC chip in the secondary pack (manufactured by Knoll Prestige Packaging), which for us is a long-term CRM play; we are building up a database so that we can provide content to and communicate directly with our consumers. By downloading our app and tapping their phone to the box they can access unique content from our master distiller, for example.
You are also working on other spirits.
Yes, first off will be a white rum and dark rum that will launch early 2020. As with our gin, the idea is for these to be ‘category defining’ within the rum segment. For our rums, we won’t use sugar cane as a base, but will use sugar from organic beets grown in France instead.
Our approach will draw heavily from the technology side of distillation and extraction; we’ve started to collaborate with the University of Nice, where we are sponsoring a PHD thesis on the development of new extraction techniques. We are also expanding our workspace. For the moment we are using just 25% of the 2,500m2 200 year-old perfume factory we acquired, but as of the third quarter of 2020 we’ll be in 1,500m2. The idea is also to open up to the public, as a sort of interactive visitor’s center.
What can you tell us about the packaging for the rum collection?
The design (again, a collaboration with Force Majeure and Chic) is still in the brainstorming stage, but while 44°N was looking to capture light, the inspiration for the rum will come from the terroir, the earth itself.
Next in the pipeline—probably in 2021-2022—will be a whisky for which we’ll work with local farmers to grow the barley that will be the base of our single malt.
Are you also looking at the potential of alcohol-free spirits?
Absolutely. The no-low trend is most interesting and I think it’s something that we will look at seriously starting in 2021. I believe this a relevant movement, the idea being not to encourage consumers to drink more, but to drink better.
How is Comte de Grasse structured?
Up until now, we’ve be able to grow via private investors: myself, friends and family. But the company is now reaching a critical stage and needs to scale up, so we are currently going through a round of fund-raising, the idea being to find strategic partners in the wine and spirits industry.