January 20, 2022 6:06 pm

Distilled. The Buenos Aires gin that seeks to conquer Denmark

A family custom was the kick to pay attention to the movement of the gin market, which was in sustained growth (the gin and tonic is much more than a traditional drink these days, for example). Through debates, the idea of ​​creating a brand that could respond to national demand, but also aiming to become an international consumer product was born. With this project, Rafael Ferrari Ostry came to meet with his friends –Ricardo Saracca, Martín Ferro and Luciano Carmona– and together they took the first step to found Merle Gin.

“What he told us motivated us, and in a first analysis we detected that there was an important market to develop a gin brand aimed at young people as the main audience, and allow them to get closer to this drink,” explains Carmona, CEO of the company.

To live up to such great objectives, production and the product could not have a low bar. “From the beginning we have thought of the company as having high performance potential, what we call a startup industry”, adds Carmona.

To make an international product, as the founders of Merle envisioned, you have to learn from the best. And that is why everyone agreed that it was necessary to travel to the United Kingdom, the birthplace of gin, and spend several months there. “We did a training on distillates, we looked for the best master distiller, and then we faced the big decision of making an industrial-scale distillery among other challenges. This is how our story begins”, says Carmona.

The result? In June 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, they launched Gin Merle on the market. For this, an initial investment of US$150,000 was necessary, which enabled them to have a plant in Avellaneda, province of Buenos Aires, with a still with a capacity of 300 liters per batch.

“That’s how we managed, after a lot of effort, to have enough scale to conquer, in the first year of existence, 10% of the Argentine gin market and generate more than 40 jobs,” highlights Carmona.

Behind each bottle of Merle there is a story and, above all, a lot of research. “We worked on more than 125 recipes until we reached the final version. All thanks to our Master Distiller, Cristian Hainich, who achieved the identity of Merle, a product made from 12 carefully selected botanicals, distilled with a steam infusion technique that results in a gin with a round juniper character, citrus notes that they give it freshness and a floral complex”, proudly describes its CEO.

With this product Merle today is billing around $350 million annually, and they expect to have a 100% growth in 2022. In addition, the distillery produces around 35,000 liters of gin per month, which allows them to have a market share of about 10%.

“We are currently finalizing the start-up and installation of our second distillery, which would position us as one of the largest distilleries in Argentina and the region. This way we will be able to quintuple our volume”, explains Carmona.

“Today we are in Denmark and other northern European countries. We are also venturing into neighboring countries: Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia,” they explain in Merle Gin

As a result of experimentation, the Innovation, Marketing and Design team developed the Merle Experience, in which the Merle Drippers stand out, for example, which are concentrated mixtures of alcohol with botanical ingredients that enrich original cocktail recipes to achieve a new flavor. They come in four flavors: Lavender, Masala Chai, Eucalyptus and LemonGrass.

“We also have our Merle Botanicals that come in a box with 5 tubes containing juniper, cinnamon, pepper, rose petals and hibiscus. These are used to perfume cocktails and are added once the drink is finished, or your Gin Tonic. It is much more than a drink, it is also discovering with friends what you like and experimenting”, indicates the CEO.

The arrival of Merle takes place in a context of expansion of the category, since in the last year in Argentina more than 300 gin labels emerged. There was a 47% growth of the market, in which approximately 3.5 to 4 million liters of gin are consumed annually in the country.

“Despite the pandemic, growth did not stop, and it took place all over the world. This is due to the versatility of gin when it comes to generating new proposals for drinks and cocktails. To have ideal, the increase in sales of this drink remains in double digits. Currently, the expectation is that it will be close to 50% year-on-year”, analyzes Carmona.

This is a phenomenon, in the world of gin, it is called “ginaissance”. “Argentina is taking the reins in the development of the category in the country and in the region. The quality of distillates that are emerging is very high. We still have a long way to go to be at the level of the main producing and consuming countries in the world, such as the Philippines, Holland, England and Spain”, highlights the manager.

An important point was being able to create Merle’s identity: understand who they wanted to talk to and how. “Merle is for those who are not satisfied with things as they are, the curious, those who intend to do something that has never been done, those who have something sophisticated and at the same time rebellious, urban, disruptive. Our public is young, we aim our communication at people between 18 and 35 years old, focusing on those 25″, details this entrepreneur.

One of the initial goals of the founders of Merle was to be able to go out and conquer the foreign market. And in 2021 they did it. “Today we are in Denmark and other northern European countries. We also ventured into neighboring countries: Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia. This has many positive things. First, the fact that Argentina has an offer of export quality gin. That countries as knowledgeable about gin as Spain or Denmark accept the product is a great achievement. We are on the right track. And complex has its own challenges that Argentina presents to exporters. Nothing that we cannot overcome to continue growing”, concludes the CEO of Merle


Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *