Last night (Tuesday December 3), I attended a tasting of Balblair vintages. We tasted five whiskies, 2003, 1997, 1990, 1983 and 1969, prefaced by a glass of Balblair’s base spirit.
He said he was happy with the current arrangement and the joint venture would continue in the same way.
“The marriage is really good because of the people we work with,” said Nolet.
In 2008, Diageo spent US$900 million to begin a 50 /50 joint venture with the Nolet Group.
This month (June) marks the beginning of the fifth and final year in which the Nolet family has the option to offer the remaining 50% of the company to Diageo. Diageo also has the option decline the offer, but it would have to pay a US$100m penalty.
Nolet said after June 2013, the Ketel One joint venture would be a ‘marriage for life’.
On the subject of keeping 50% of the business, Nolet said: “We like our independence. We have been in the business for over 300 years and we aim to contiunue."
Nolet said the brand has been growing since the partnership started. According to the 2012 Millionaires report, Ketel One reached 2.2 million cases in 2011 – 10% up on 2010.
However, Nolet did point to a shift away from the on-trade in the brand’s US heartland.
“We always focus on the on-trade but consumers moved to the off-trade so now we’re 50/50 on-trade/off-trade.”
Nolet also said he has no plans to launch any new flavours. The company launched Ketel One Citroen in 2000 an orange flavour (Oranje) in 2010.
“We have two but that’s down to the demand from bartenders. Flavours are totally different to Ketel One’s business."
In the US, Ketel One has launched a campaign to invest $100,000 in “one original idea that champions the lifestyle of the modern gentleman”.
A Gentleman's Call involves presenting an idea, inspiration or endeavor that will “raise society's behavioral bar”.
Five projects will be shortlisted at the end of July and consumers across the country will vote to elect a winner. Visit www.agentlemanscall.com for more.