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Interview: Hotaling & Co. CMO Brian Radics

September 12, 2022

San Francisco-based spirits company Hotaling & Co. has long been a player in the super-premium and artisanal area of the spirits category. Founded in 1993 as Anchor Distilling, it was acquired by Tony Foglio and Berry Bros. & Rudd in 2010, and now has a portfolio including owned brands like Old Potrero and Hirsch whiskies, and Junipero Gin, as well as partner labels like Nikka Japanese Whiskey, Hine Cognac, and Luxardo cordials, among others. SND senior editor Shane English recently caught up with Hotaling CMO Brian Radics for an update, and to hear what’s in store for the coming months.

SND: How has Hotaling & Co. performed in 2022 so far overall?

Radics: We’re coming off of a banner year in 2021 for our company. We’re in a transition phase from what I call a small company to a midsize company. It’s a really great growth experience for all of us within the organization. Coming off of 50% growth in 2021, 2022 is very much more of the same. We’re performing at almost 25% over what we were doing last year, which is really great news, especially considering industry headwinds. We’re seeing the impact on that across all price tiers and categories. We focus on the high end—the premium, super-premium, ultra-premium price tiers—but we are lucky to have brands across a wide variety of categories that are gaining momentum.

SND: What’s on the horizon for Hotaling’s owned-brand portfolio?

Radics: Within our own brands this year, Hirsch whiskey has been really exciting. It has really begun to grow. We’re launching a Kentucky version of Hirsch, which will come out in the fall. It’ll be a permanent SKU alongside the Horizon, which is our Indiana expression. On top of that, we’ll be reintroducing single barrel expressions from Hirsch and also this amazing Hirsch whiskey aged in 30-year-old Hine Cognac barrels. That comes out the end of this year. Another brand we’re very excited about is Junipero. We distill that at our distillery in San Francisco and performance data is strong. We formed a new partnership with the San Francisco Giants, too.

We also just relaunched the packaging and upgraded the liquid on Old Potrero. We have a six-year-old Straight Rye Whiskey, made from 100% malted rye, and a single barrel expression. Old Potrero and Junipero, that’s how Hotaling was born when it was Anchor Distilling. Both of these brands have very strong plans and aspirations to grow. It’s indicative of 30 years in the business and where we are today versus where we were then: what’s the same is our commitment to craft and the community of what we call like-minded spirits.

SND: What’s the plan for your partner brands looking ahead?

Radics: On the other side of our business, Nikka Japanese Whisky is a gem of our portfolio. It’s a coveted liquid among consumers and Japanese whiskey is still growing really strong. Later on this year, we’ll be introducing the second iteration of the Discovery series. Within spirits, Luxardo is like a three-headed hydra: we have all of the different cordials and liqueurs, we have the cherries, and we now have a canned cocktail under Luxardo. With our partner Walsh, we have Writers’ Tears, which is gaining a lot of fans among those that know the Irish whiskey category. We’ll have some new innovations coming from Writers’ Tears this year.

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