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Interview, Part 2: Rémy Cointreau Americas President And CEO Ian McLernon

February 17, 2022

In the second part of our interview, Rémy Cointreau Americas president and CEO Ian McLernon discusses growth within the company’s whisk(e)y portfolio, opportunities in brandy and rum, and its recent launch of Champagne Telmont.

SND: How is progress within Rémy Cointreau’s whisky stable?

McLernon: Bruichladdich has been a real gem in our portfolio. It has performed over and above our expectations in the last few years. With a brand like Octomore, when we release a new varietal it sells out instantly. Black Art is exactly the same. But the growth has really been driven by Port Charlotte. We’ve been growing by double-digits, and we expect that to continue. With the Classic Laddie, which is the entry to the Bruichladdich family, we want to communicate more the fact that it’s unpeated. There is a perception that all Islays are peated, but Classic Laddie is not. That’s one of the opportunities that we have in terms of bringing new drinkers into the Bruichladdich franchise, and also new drinkers into single malt as well.

SND: You also have Westland, based in Washington state. Are you seeing the idea of American single malts gain traction with U.S. consumers?

McLernon: I believe that American single malt will perform exceptionally well globally. It will take time. We know that the products are amazing. They’re great value for money, in terms of the liquid and the story. Consumer awareness and understanding of the category is the challenge today. Having an official designation and clear standards that are legally binding in terms of what an American single malt is will certainly help. Westland has a bright future, but developing the category will take time.

SND: Which other brands in the spirits portfolio have opportunities for expansion?

McLernon: St-Rémy is crossing 100,000 cases this year in the U.S. It’s slightly under the radar for most people, but there’s a sizeable business. We are launching an extension called St-Rémy Signature, which is already in Michigan and Texas, and we’re rolling out to most major markets later this year. This is a $30 price point. We believe there’s a real opportunity to help recruit drinkers into the St-Rémy franchise and compete against American whiskies at that price point. On Mount Gay, what we’re seeing is that the upper end—XO and Black Barrel—is performing very well. With the on-premise reopening we’re seeing really good momentum there.

SND: How has the rollout of Champagne Telmont gone so far?

McLernon: Last summer we launched Telmont in Miami and Los Angeles, and we’ve now launched in New York as well. We’ve been slowly building the business in the on-premise, and the initial results we’re seeing are ahead of our expectations. We are taking a long-term view, and believe Telmont has a really compelling story to tell. But we’ll take our time. It’s not a race.

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