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Interview, Part 2: Stoli Group USA’s Patrick Piana

May 10, 2017

In the second part of our interview with Patrick Piana, the Stoli Group USA president and CEO discusses the company’s push into categories like rum, Tequila and Bourbon, as well as its upscale wine portfolio.

SND: In late 2015, you added Louisiana-based Bayou rum to the Stoli USA stable. How is progress so far?

Piana: Bayou rum is made from Louisiana sugarcane and includes Select, Spiced and Silver rums as well as Satsuma rum liqueur ($19.99 to $36.99 a bottle). Initially the brand had a very small distribution area. In 2016, we took it to 24 states and business more than doubled. Our ambition is to go fully national this year, and reach depletions of 40,000-50,000 cases. Our goal is to establish Bayou as the leading American rum in the U.S.

SND: More recently, Kentucky Owl Bourbon has joined the fold. What are your plans for that brand?

Piana: We’re going to continue what master blender Dixon Dedman has created, which is a limited-quantity, high-end Bourbon. The core Kentucky Owl will not become a mass brand—it retails at $200 a bottle. So we will continue to release one batch at a time on a regular basis (each batch includes 2,000 to 2,500 bottles). But what we also want to do is bring to U.S. retailers and consumers, who are looking for new Bourbons, other expressions of Kentucky Owl. Dixon is currently working on that. We’re fully dedicated to supporting the development of the brand, knowing that it will take time.

SND: You’ve also entered Tequila with the Kah brand.

Piana: Yes. Last fall, we made the acquisition of the Fabrica de Tequilas Finos distillery, which produces Kah. Kah is priced at $40 for the Blanco, $45 for the Reposado and $50 for the Añejo. We’re underway redesigning the packaging (Kah’s original skull-shaped bottle was recently found to infringe on the packaging of Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head vodka), which has delayed the relaunch of the brand under Stoli Group USA. Looking long-term, we plan to establish Kah at a luxury price point.

SND: Are you eyeing entry into any other spirits categories?

Piana: We’d also like to add a gin, but we won’t rush into it. We have a lot to do on our existing brands.

SND: What’s the update on your wine portfolio?

Piana: On the wine side, we have a small portfolio including Achaval-Ferrer from Argentina. They have years and years of 90-plus ratings. We’ve also added a small winery from Navarra, Spain, called Arínzano. Arínzano is one of Spain’s Vino de Pago wineries, representing the country’s highest quality designation. We’re focusing on key restaurants and retailers, the types of accounts that know how to sell $20, $30, $50 and $100 wines.

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