Inspired by the growing trend for luxury in-store fragrance fountains, La Spirithèque invites consumers to refill their bottles with their spirit of choice. Launched last month at 30 wine merchants in France, the goal is to be present in 100 stores within nine months.
L’Explorateur du Goût, a French importer and distributor of craft spirits, is the company behind the in-store refill concept offering spirits created by master distillers. The modular station designed by Studio Jean-Marc Gady can house between three and six spirits, each showcased in a backlit module. The spirits are presented in blown-glass containers, with their history and creator detailed on adjacent plaques.
“It’s not because spirits are offered in bulk that they have to be anonymous,” L’Explorateur du Goût founder François Sommer explains to Luxe Packaging Insight. Indeed, La Spirithèque, or ‘spirits library’ in English, puts the emphasis on the spirits’ ”authors” rather than taking a branded approach. The majority of the spirits on offer are exclusive creations. “We chose to collaborate with some of the best master blenders and producers in their respective industries,” says Sommer, “Scott Watson of The Lost Distillery Company fame for Scotch whiskies, Benjamin Kuentz for French whiskies, Bruno Le Merle for rum and Edouard Betegnie for gin.”
To house their spirit of choice, the consumer selects either the 20cl or 70cl refill bottle (Vetroelite), of which 30% is made of recycled glass. On subsequent visits, they pay only for the refill. The carbon footprint associated with this refill solution is estimated to be four to five times lower than that of a traditional bottle, according to L’Explorateur du Goût. The 70cl refills cost between €28 (gin) and €49 (whisky) depending on the spirit.
The company drew inspiration from outside its own industry when creating the concept. “We actually looked at the cosmetics market, at what companies like Guerlain are doing with fragrance fountains,” Sommer remarks. “It was important for us to create a premium, high value experience, from the spirits themselves and the way they are presented to how they are served.”
Local production was also a priority. The bespoke blown-glass containers are made by French glassmaker Nivyne, and the refill station is made in France’s Allier region using FSC-certified beech wood. French company Hub Design assembles the station, and also produced the plaques detailing the spirits.
L’Explorateur du Goût currently offers seven spirits through La Spirithèque - three Scotch whiskies, two French whiskies, one rum and one gin. The company is looking to add more spirits to the line-up and is aiming to be in 100 wine merchants within six to nine months, up from 30 today.
“Our prototype launched in August has worked very well, not only for its visual impact but also because it’s a completely new proposition in the market,” concludes Sommer.
DesignStudio Jean-Marc Gady
Refill bottle labelsTourneville
Refill station/PlaquesHub Design