On this episode of “Next Spherical,” host Adam Teeter chats with Miranda Dixon, the worldwide model director for Absolut Elyx. Dixon walks listeners by way of the distinctive historical past of Elyx — one which closely entails the use of copper stills. Listeners will even get an opportunity to be taught concerning the product’s controversial launch and powerful deal with client training.

Like many alcohol manufacturers, Elyx has lately been compelled to shift its focus in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, adjusting to advertising and marketing its merchandise for at-home reasonably than on-premise consumption. Dixon explains how Elyx has tailored to this “new regular” as a super-premium vodka. Tune in to be taught extra concerning the previous, current, and future of Absolut Elyx.

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Adam Teeter: From Brooklyn, New York, I’m Adam Teeter. And this can be a “VinePair Podcast” dialog. We’re bringing you these conversations in between our common podcast episodes to offer you a greater thought of what’s occurring within the alcohol beverage business. Immediately, I’m speaking with Miranda Dixon, the worldwide model director for Absolut Elyx. Miranda, thanks for becoming a member of me.

Miranda Dixon: Thanks for having me.

A: The place do we discover you on this pretty day in March?

D: Nicely, right here I’m this Sunday morning, sitting in Los Angeles.

A: Wow, so discuss to me a bit bit about Absolut Elyx. Most individuals, I believe, are conscious of it now. It’s been round for about 10 years, however what’s the model? I’m additionally curious as to the way it sits outdoors of Absolut, as a result of I all the time assumed that Elyx was type of half of Absolut, however to listen to that you’re the worldwide model director of Elyx, I’m so interested by what the hierarchy is and the place the model matches within the model household of Absolut.

D: It took us three years to make Absolut, and that was between 2007 to 2010 once we made Elyx. After all, all people’s absolutely conscious of the model Absolut Vodka. With Elyx, what we did was take a look at each aspect of the best way we produced Absolut Vodka and tried to craft and finesse every stage of the manufacturing course of. For instance, within the wheat fields that we use for Absolut Vodka, we went to 1 of the farmers that now we have the most effective relationship with and labored with him to attempt to create a really particular wheat selection from the terroir. Then, from one single property in Sweden, we use that wheat for the creation of Absolut Elyx. We’re not saying that wheat is giving a greater product. It’s only a totally different product. What we wished to do is create one thing that was a handcrafted expression of Absolut Vodka. Taking each aspect that we’ve discovered and constructing it right into a craft, one thing that’s a home made product. Subsequently, it takes way more time to create Elyx. We make it in a single distillery, which is the unique Absolut distillery in southern Sweden. It’s very intently associated, from a manufacturing level of view, from how we really make the product from the elements that we use. We’re very fortunate in southern Sweden as a result of the distillery sits on prime of an enormous historical aquifer that we use the identical water for Absolut Vodka as we use for Elyx, as a result of it’s full purity. There are heaps of similarities between the precise product itself. Nonetheless, it comes from one single property and it’s a handmade product. It truly is handmade, there are not any computer systems within the distillery. It’s about seven guys who know tips on how to function this tools. It’s genuinely a home made product.

A: What was the choice to create Elyx? Why create Elyx?

D: Krister Asplund was a grasp distiller who had labored creating Absolut Vodka for 35 years. He actually had ambition. In 1973, once we created Absolut Vodka, the world was a really totally different place, and what was attainable by way of manufacturing was very totally different from how it’s at the moment on the earth of vodka. All information gained from Absolut Vodka, he had quite a bit of power in distilling down this information to finesse a special expression of Absolut — utilizing that wheat to offer the vodka a barely totally different profile. I suppose that may very well be described as this extra refined product.

A: Has the hope been to graduate the Absolut drinker to Absolut Elyx? Are you attempting to carry different folks into the vodka class by way of Absolut Elyx? The place do you see the model becoming in amongst drinkers on the whole and what persons are on the lookout for?

D: I believe we see Elyx because the product that you just’d attain for as a special day. For instance, should you had been an Absolut drinker, possibly Elyx is the product you’d seize to take to a pal’s celebration on the weekend. As I stated, when Absolut launched, the world of the vodka shelf was a really totally different place than it’s at the moment. We might say that Elyx is completely distinctive in a Martini, for instance, which maybe isn’t the best way persons are consuming Absolut Vodka at the moment. It may very well be in longer drinks, extra easy combined drinks. The approach that it has this very refined, very particular mouthfeel is so significantly better loved in spirit-forward drinks, for instance. That may be a house by which one would possibly choose Elyx as an possibility. Additionally, we see the model is interesting to non-vodka drinkers as nicely. Elyx has a really distinct style, taste, and particularly a really refined mouthfeel. It’s very, very clean and silky in texture. It showcases extraordinarily nicely in a spirit-forward drink.

A: The place does that mouthfeel come from? Is it as a result of of the wheat you’re utilizing? Is that from the distillation course of? How is that occurring?

D: It principally comes from the distillation course of, precisely. The approach we create Absolut Elyx is, once more, very distinctive. We use copper, which isn’t distinctive. We all know spirit manufacturing makes use of copper, but it surely’s the best way that we make use of copper. We use a classic nonetheless from 1921 to make Elyx, which is that this hand-operated nonetheless. Along with that, we’re utilizing sacrificial copper within the first distillation. What that’s doing is eradicating many of the first undesirable impurities. It’s eradicating quite a bit of undesirable odors or fusel oils on the first level of distillation, so you could have a high quality spirit that you just’re going to be creating. It’s already a really totally different profile from Absolut Vodka. It’s crafted fully by way of this copper nonetheless. I do know that Krister believes that the nonetheless is the magic of Absolut Elyx, that offers it this very particular profile.

A: It’s fascinating to me that we’re speaking a bit bit earlier about modernism from the place we had been in 1973 to how we’ve modified in vodka since then. However then for forward-thinking merchandise, you went again to a machine in-built 1921. That’s actually fascinating. Copper is clearly an enormous half of the model. That’s how I’ve all the time seen the model present up. Was it recognized by the distilling crew on the time that copper can be the sort of nonetheless to make use of so as to create the sort of vodka they wished to make?

D: Sure. After I discuss taking a look at each aspect of the method of Absolut Vodka, they’re utilizing copper within the main distillation course of, but it surely’s not sacrificial. It’s not being discarded after each single batch, which is how we produce Elyx. I believe it was evident that this copper catalyzation course of very a lot helps impart one thing differentiated to the vodka. Copper is a component of the custom of distillation in Sweden, and it’s central to that. It made sense to make use of copper. Even throughout the enormous facility, which creates the hundreds of thousands of circumstances of Absolut Vodka, copper is employed and is inside chrome steel. It’s nonetheless there. It’s nonetheless getting used, however not in fairly the identical proportion as we’re utilizing it with Elyx.

A: Fascinating. Full disclosure, after I was a child, I collected Absolut Vodka adverts as a result of I assumed they had been tremendous cool. While you had been creating Elyx, was this additionally to offer Absolut a competitor towards like a Gray Goose or a Belvedere? Was that the way you got here to have an excellent premium? I all the time thought that Absolut was tremendous premium till Elyx was launched, so I’m curious as to what the enterprise selections had been behind it.

D: We see Absolut sitting firmly on the premium shelf. What you noticed within the early ’90s with the discharge of Belvedere and Gray Goose, you see an entire altering of the vodka context. Actually, I don’t assume {that a} client understands premium or tremendous premium. They simply perceive the worth level.

A: Yeah, that’s true.

D: What’s fascinating with the super-premium class as a complete, however particularly with vodka, there’s no growing old course of. There’s no appellation on whiskey, Cognac, for instance. The worth level is basically outlined by a elaborate bottle, numerous claims, and advertising and marketing claims on the pack. This class with vodka appears to be between $25 — in America, it’s particularly broad — however $25 as much as $140. It’s so broad. I went to the shop the opposite day and I see what I’d say is a premium product sitting subsequent to a super-premium product with the identical worth level. Pricing within the U.S., particularly on cabinets, is kind of fascinating. With Absolut Elyx, we didn’t say, “OK, we want one thing to go up towards Grey Goose or Belvedere,” who clearly had been the market leaders on the time. Once we first positioned it, it wasn’t actually about that. It was about creating one thing that actually was a handcrafted expression that claims one thing way more craft-forward. Within the preliminary course of, we by no means thought of it being one thing that will be drunk in nightclubs and sparklers. As I think about, many of the Champagne homes by no means would have dreamed of that both. We by no means noticed that being a play within the product. It was extra about superb high quality drinks and making a product that might ship on distinctive, spirit-forward cocktails.

A: I bear in mind when Elyx debuted, it was the model that helped re-educate or remind bartenders at craft cocktail bars that you would make actually good drinks with vodka. I bear in mind seeing Elyx pushing very exhausting into that house. Was that intentional?

D: Sure. We intentionally partnered with initially 15 bars in New York and particularly solid a terrific relationship with Jim Meehan to teach folks. I believe we got here round at a time the place bartenders had been anti-vodka. I wished to say to people who’s probably not honest. First of all, the buyer nonetheless loves vodka, even when the bartender is anti-vodka. There’s much more to vodka than you could assume. It was all the time essential to us to proceed to push for training. Folks want to grasp what makes good vodka, and to show people who it’s a basic entry level.

A: After I first got here in touch with Absolut Elyx, I consider it was at Betony (RIP) they usually had a ton of pineapples and issues like that. This was one of the very early days of VinePair. I believe I used to be simply beginning the publication. It was across the time you guys had been launching, like seven years in the past or so. They used to inform me that individuals stole them. Is that true?

D: Sure, really, the primary time we showcased the pineapple was at Talese of the Cocktail in 2015. We made 200 of them. I bear in mind going to the POS crew and them saying, “You might be loopy, these are so costly, what are you doing?” We put them on the market and out of our 200, I believe solely 54 got here residence. You might see instantly that these had been successful, but it surely was a great drawback to have. So we began replicating. We discovered a method to make them cheaper and make them out there to bars and eating places all around the world. In actual fact, I believe proper now there are over 60,000 of these out within the on-premise globally. What we noticed is that precisely. Folks had been tipping the ice out beneath the desk and placing them within the purses.

A: They had been drinks vessels, appropriate? They weren’t shakers.

D: Precisely, they’re cocktail cups. We sat again and stated “Wow, that is loopy.” We began initially with an internet site that was linked to Water for People, which is a charity we had been working with on the time. And you would buy a cup of pineapple and provides a donation of $5 to Water for Folks. Folks simply cherished these vessels. With that in thoughts, we began increasing, and I labored on increasing the entire vary of copper vessels. Now, now we have copper gnomes, pineapples, mermaids, turtles, cats, and little lovebirds. We now have this entire vary of enjoyable, fantasy-style copper ingesting vessels. An enormous flamingo punchbowl. We’ve additionally arrange elyxboutique.com, the place we retail these on to customers. That’s additionally been an enormous half of our play throughout instances of Covid, as a result of it provides the chance for folks to go surfing and purchase these nice cups, which make nice gifting, with cocktail concepts, tips on how to drink with every cup and vessel, and so forth. That’s complemented by copper bar instruments and different way of life items like cufflinks and decorations.

A: Very cool. You very a lot leaned into copper. I find it irresistible.

D: It’s the cornerstone of how we made the model. It simply made sense. It’s nice that it additionally occurs to be trendy as a shade and a fabric. It’s additionally completely central to the best way we create Absolut Elyx.

A: Very cool. Now that we’re clearly full-on in a world pandemic and the on-premise has closed — which I used to see Elyx at quite a bit — how has your technique modified or had your technique already developed previous to Covid? What have you ever performed for the reason that starting in phrases of positioning of the model?

D: The model has massively developed since we first launched. Whereas we had been in spirit-forward craft cocktail bars and lodge bars, we realized that there’s a scope outdoors that. We began working very intently with international commerce, in phrases of creating extra thrilling ingesting experiences, in addition to educating on the product. The actuality is the territory of this so-called super-premium class is nightlife as nicely. It was troublesome for us to stay within the bars as half of the portfolio. As a result of the best way our firm is about up, we’re a decentralized group. What which means is that, transparently, our gross sales guys might be going into accounts, promoting a bunch of totally different merchandise, and vodka is clearly half of that setup. Folks wish to drink nice vodka in nightclubs. Actually, it wasn’t a technique of ours. It was extra about the truth that that is what the bars, eating places, and nightclubs wished. They wished a vodka, and we see that increasing in that section. It’s actually the Champagne, tequila, and vodka. Then, we created programs, concepts, fancy ice buckets, issues that weren’t sparkler-forward. However one thing that might work in that surroundings for the model after which embrace that as one other aspect of the model.

A: Because you introduced up nightclubs, which is fascinating to me, I’m curious. Clearly, Cognac has seen huge booms in Covid. The gross sales are simply by way of the roof. Clearly, that has to do with the Cognac already surging previous to Covid. It was already on the upswing. Our personal unbiased information units that now we have by way of VinePair Insights had been displaying that early on. One of the opposite giant causes persons are saying Cognac is booming is as a result of quite a bit of individuals who drank it within the golf equipment began to appreciate how a lot it really price off-premise, and had been shopping for extra of it. They’ve seen huge gross sales as a result of of that. I’m curious, has the identical occurred to Elyx?

D: No, sadly not. Covid actually pushed it within the off-premise. We’ve been a really trade-forward model, and we’ve been very on-premise centered. The approach we present up, which you touched on earlier on copper, is creating a visible identification of the model. That’s very a lot nonetheless an on-premise play. With 10 years, we’re nonetheless a model in its infancy. As soon as we began performing some co-packs with fancy copper cups within the off-premise, it’s not one thing that we’ve actually pushed or embraced. Being in grocery shops, for instance, has not been a serious half of the model as a result of it’s been extra about seeding the model, rising fairness throughout the on-premise.

A: You’re in L.A. as a result of of a particular Elyx house, appropriate?

D: Yeah, that’s appropriate. We talked quite a bit concerning the product itself and the way the product’s made, however that was by no means the entire story of Absolut Vodka. You talked concerning the ads. Folks touched on this cultural identification of the model simply as a lot as they talked concerning the precise liquid itself. That was a terrific inspiration for us with Absolut Elyx, as a result of if we take a look at the heritage of Absolut, artwork, trend, and tradition is a lot half of the DNA of the model’s disruptive character. That’s one thing that actually motivated and impressed me when engaged on Absolut Elyx and increasing and exploring that. That got here to life by creating these Absolut Elyx homes. We began off by creating one in New York in a loft condo in Manhattan. Then we created this Elyx home within the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. The thought of the homes is to create this utopia, the place you’re moving into the world of Elyx the place nothing is branded. It’s extra about creating this various way of life. We’ve used the home for internet hosting commerce occasions, events, celeb birthday events, instructional periods, and so forth. That’s principally the utilization of the home, and clearly for firm inside conferences and seminars, and so forth. It’s a completely devoted mansion in Hollywood that’s the Elyx home.

A: Does the New York one exist anymore?

D: No, it doesn’t. We had it for a 12 months, and we ran the 2 homes collectively. From an organizational/operational level of view, it is extremely troublesome to maintain them each going. We had that home for 2 years. We’ve had the Elyx home in L.A. for 5 years.

A: What occurred to the home throughout Covid for the final 12 months?

D: Nicely, we’ve been making heaps of content material creation there. You requested earlier about what now we have performed with Covid? Nicely, one of the issues which have turn out to be obvious — one thing that I centered on anyway — is how are we going to get folks enthusiastic about tips on how to drink Elyx, particularly in the event that they’re sitting at residence? We’ve performed quite a bit of work with commerce primarily based in L.A doing movies on tips on how to make good Martinis, tips on how to make nice cocktails, and taking pictures in our ready-made set. That’s the primary approach by which we used it. For the vacations, we did some work with Dita Von Teese, and we did Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Yr’s Eve. She made some nice, enjoyable movies on the home, too. That’s what we’ve been utilizing for content material creation.

A: At this level, do you assume post-Covid, the plan is to return to the playbook you had been utilizing in phrases of pushing into the golf equipment and being extra of an on-trade liquid? Or do you assume that, given Covid and all the things that it has performed to at-home bartending and consumption, will it trigger you to reevaluate the technique? Will Elyx be displaying up extra in folks’s houses than it used to?

D: Sure, of course. We’ll proceed to work with the commerce. I believe that the commerce and the professionals in our business are actually the heartbeat that retains it so thrilling in our business. Even when folks aren’t displaying up in bars and golf equipment, these are nonetheless the folks creating the traits, creating the cocktails. We’ll proceed to work with them on options for tips on how to preserve encouraging folks to drink higher at residence, to finesse their cocktail strategies, and impress their buddies. Utilizing skilled hats and doubling down on that also. At-home bartending is unquestionably not going to go away, and there’s a lot extra curiosity in it than there ever was earlier than. It will be silly to not proceed what we began throughout Covid, but additionally to actually work with bars and eating places as they begin coming again and getting again on their toes after the disaster. How can we assist them in creating instruments and options for them to climate this new world post-Covid?

A: Yeah, that makes quite a bit of sense. Nicely, this has been a very fascinating dialog, and I actually wish to thanks for taking the time to speak with me extra about Elyx, what’s occurring with the model, and the way it developed. It’s been actually cool to listen to its story. I wish to thanks, and I want you the most effective of luck sooner or later with the model.

D: Thanks a lot.

Thanks a lot for listening to the “VinePair Podcast.” In the event you love this present as a lot as we love making it, then please go away a score on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever it’s you get your podcasts. It actually helps everybody else uncover the present.

Now, for the credit. VinePair is produced and recorded in New York Metropolis and Seattle, Wash., on my own and Zach Geballe, who does all of the enhancing and likes to get the credit score. Additionally, I’d love to offer a particular shout-out to my VinePair co-founder, Josh Malin, for serving to make all this attainable, and in addition to Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tasting director, who’s moreover a producer on the present. I additionally wish to, of course, thank each different member of the VinePair crew who’re instrumental in all of the concepts that go into making the present each week. Thanks a lot for listening, and we’ll see you once more.

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