Exclusive: Deutsch Takes Aim At Upscale Gin, Forming Joint Venture With Gray Whale BrandOctober 15, 2019
With super-premium gin showing strong growth in the U.S., Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits has made its first move in the category, SND has learned. Deutsch has formed a 50-50 joint venture partnership with Jan and Marsh Mokhtari, founders of the high-end Gray Whale gin label. Terms weren’t disclosed.
Gray Whale, bottled at 43% abv and retailing at $40, is currently present in the California and Connecticut markets. Deutsch plans to launch it nationally in three waves, with about 17 markets expected to come on stream in the next 12 months. While production is currently tiny at 2,000 cases, Deutsch says it intends to scale the brand through its national network, noting that the over-$30 gin segment has been increasing by double-digits lately.
“Building a scaled spirits portfolio of craft and super-premium brands is a high strategic imperative for us,” says Deutsch Family president Tom Steffanci. “We believe there’s significant opportunity to grow Gray Whale as we move to national distribution.”
Deutsch adds that the Mokhtaris—who created the brand after witnessing a gray whale and its calf on their annual 12,000-mile migration north—will be full-time partners on the project. In addition to distilling, Marsh Mokhtari has hosted various TV shows including Perilous Journeys on National Geographic and Extreme Chef on the Food Network. Jan is a creative director who has led brand-building campaigns at top ad agencies and movie studios.
California-based Gray Whale, made in Sebastopol, sources botanicals from the California coastline including juniper, limes, fir, kombu sea kelp, mint, and almonds and donates 1% of sales to environmental group Oceana. The brand joins Redemption Whiskey, Bib & Tucker Bourbon, Masterson’s Rye, and Luksusowa Vodka in the Deutsch Family spirits portfolio.—Daniel MarstellerSubscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.