The company recently announced a chunky £7m ($9m) investment into its future – both in production and in branding and marketing – with a goal to create ‘globally recognised, cult drinks brands that put consumer value and planet longevity at their core’. Its ambitions include bringing its products to the US within the next 12 months.
And one of its biggest decisions this year is to distance itself from the original well-known BrewDog craft beer brand: deciding the spirits division needs to build up a reputation on its own merit.
Unlocking the next phase of growth
BrewDog Distilling Co was originally launched in April 2017. But 2023 sees a new start for the company: with changes across the board.
First of all is a new portfolio: which relaunched in the off-trade last month with the on-trade to follow in July.
Meanwhile, BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie steps up to become the CEO for the company.
This year also sees the launch of a brand-new, state of the art distillery located over the road from the BrewDog brewery in Ellon, Aberdeen. Tripling production output from the previous distillery, the new triple bubble copper still houses over 10,000 litres of spirit versus the original 3,000.
“We’re at a very exciting moment in BrewDog Distilling Co and I think we’ll look back on 2023 in years to come and appreciate this was the year we set the groundwork for our future success,” Steven Kersley, MD of BrewDog Distilling Co, told BeverageDaily.
“Over the last four years we’ve successfully scaled BrewDog Distilling Co to a £10m ($12m) revenue business, and we’ve done this by rooting our values in liquid quality, sustainable production and building strong relationships with our customers.
“These values will remain, however, to unlock the next phase of our growth we’re evolving, our portfolio has taken on a bolder look, we’ve increased our distilling capacity, and now with BrewDog co-founder, Martin Dickie, joining as CEO we’ve someone who’s expertise of scaling a start-up business to a £multi-billion valuation.”
BrewDog craft beer vs BrewDog craft spirits: 'Our brands need to build their own fame in their respective categories'
The company’s portfolio now includes a redesigned LoneWolf gin brand (‘an adventurous Scottish gin handcrafted using small batch copper stills, infused with Tuscan juniper and Scot’s pine’): which comes in four 38% - 40% ABV varieties: original, Mexican lime and cactus, peach and passionfruit; and bramble and raspberry.
Its other flagship ranges include Abstrakt vodka (‘artfully crafted from the world’s first copper triple bubble still’) and DUO rum (‘a marriage of Caribbean and Scottish rum, infused with the finest spices from across the globe to create an authentic taste of the tropics’).
What’s immediately obvious from the packaging is that BrewDog Distilling Co now only makes a very small gesture to the BrewDog beer brand.
“This brand evolution has seen us purposefully disconnect the BrewDog brand from our spirits, with only subtle endorsements remaining on the packaging,” said Kersley.
“This was a hard thought decision and ultimately the correct one: BrewDog is famous for making incredible beer, our brands need to build their own fame in their respective categories.
“Our confidence starts with our spirit quality which we believe is exceptional, we believe our brands are worthy of the liquid they champion and our determination to build these with, spirit lovers, who value quality and authenticity in their glass will see us succeed.”
Furthermore, the company has an extensive NPD program at the distillery, with news on new launches to come shortly, said Kersley.
BrewDog is planning to invest over £7m in the next 18 months: on an updated still house, bespoke bottles, new branding investment and 2023 marketing plan.
And the company also wants to push out internationally. It already sells spirits in a number of international markets, including Europe and Asia (its largest export markets are France and Germany, closely followed by Italy and Japan) and has big plans to take the brands to the US in the next 12 months.
In its new Ellon distillery, the company can produce gin, vodka and rum: with plans to lay down 2,000 whisky casks this year in the temperature and humidity-controlled storage area. And the company plans to open the distillery up to visitors with a custom-built mezzanine viewing platform and ‘taproom’ style tasting center.
Carbon negative company
A key part of BrewDog Distilling Co’s identity is its achievement in 2020 when it became a carbon negative company (meaning that it removes twice as much carbon from the air than it emits). When it comes to spirits, how has the company made the biggest leaps?
“As a business we have multiple different initiatives which ensures that we’re being as environmentally friendly and planet positive as possible, we take this seriously and it’s a core pillar of our growth strategy," said Kersley.
“In production we’ve invested in making sure that we preserve and don’t waste energy, where engineering solutions have allowed us to recycle energy which otherwise would have been wasted - thus lowering our demand on fossil fuels.
“The best example of this is our anaerobic digestion plant which was commissioned in 2022. All of our waste from the distillation process, e.g. spent botanicals, go into the digester where they’re metabolised to generate biomethane gas which we can use in our process to heart the still, instead of relying on gas from the grid.
“Further to this we also work closely with reputable partners like the Eden Project to plant trees globally this double offsets our total carbon emissions and to date we’ve planted over a million trees. We’ve gone further in our commitment to planet protection, in 2020 we purchased a 9300-acre estate in the Scottish Highlands this is the epicentre of our sustainable journey where we are reintroducing peat bogs to fix carbon in the earth, and rewilding an entire forest with native trees.”
When it comes to expanding its portfolio internationally, Kersley says the company’s approach to sustainability is to keep working through the entire supply chain, working with partners at the beginning and end to ensure all carbon is totalled.
“This is the basis for understanding our entire footprint and then engage with suppliers, customers and third parties to drive a scalable solution which minimises our carbon impact. Offsetting our carbon footprint will be on pillar in our strategy going forward and working with like-minded partners is essential.”