Diströya: A Unique New Spiced Spirit

King Magnus is set to conquer the shooter market

Diströya Spirits. The Dragon's Share.
Diströya Spirits. The Dragon’s Share.

Diströya Spirits, Inc. is focused on building a trilogy of unique spirit flavors, each with it’s own story. First up: “The Dragon’s Share,” based on a mythological and fun story of a spiced spirit created by the Viking King Magnus.

A recent article in Epicurious, had this to say: “The Vikings might have bludgeoned you on the head with a club, but Diströya, a Viking-based 70-proof spirit, takes a rather more mellow approach when it assaults your senses.”

The back-story

I met the owner of Diströya Spirits a few years ago. He was (and still is) a reader and follower of this blog and contacted me for some advice about the product he planned to launch. I get these types of calls and emails very often but, this time, it felt different. Scott Raynor, the owner, is an impressive guy. He’s a musician (when he has time to work that craft), an ex-bartender and among the most tenacious and innovative booze business entrepreneurs I’ve met. He has a vision and the patience to see it through. (Disclosure: I continue to be a non-paid advisor to Scott.)

The product

According to Scott, Diströya has less sugar and a lot more mystery than other liqueurs, uh, shooters. “There’s blood orange on the nose and entry, rounded out with vanilla, almond and cinnamon in the middle, finishing with the crispness of ginger and citrus,” he explains. “It’s lighter than a lot of liqueurs, and not cloying.”

Diströya Label
Diströya Label

While he describes his product as a liqueur, which is its official TTB classification, such a booze product by any other name is still a shooter. In fact, he cites his competitive set as Jägermeister, Fireball, Kraken and others. But, Scott is savvy enough not to put his fledgling brand in a box and reports that bartenders are using it in mojitos, as a Ginger Viking (a Moscow Mule) and in other cocktails. It sells for $19.99 for a 750ML.

I’m well past the shooter stage and have a limited repertoire of cocktail preferences, so I enjoy it on the rocks. It’s pleasant tasting, smooth and makes me want to plunder and pillage. It’s all that Scott says it is.

The people

Despite the absence of meaningful resources, Scott’s contagious enthusiasm, industry knowledge (self taught) and likeability, has attracted an all-star team of spirits industry mavens in sales and marketing. Add to that some outstanding designers and illustrators. In particular, he worked with

Friendly vikings on a cruise.
Friendly vikings on a cruise.

Chad Michael, a gifted designer who recently opened his own studio after working for a well known design firm. Also involved was Steven Noble, the illustrator for Kraken rum and Espolon tequila who collaborated in rendering the King Magnus icon.

He’s managed to do, on a shoestring budget, what the big spirits boys cannot do – form a team, launch a product and build a brand. And, he’s doing it the hard way.

What’s happening now?

Diströya is currently independently distributed in Denver. They are meeting with major distributors in the fall and expects to secure one. The brand is definitely getting traction in bars and stores. But, as is the case with nearly all indie startups, money is an issue.

So what does an enterprising new breed spirits maker do? Scott is going the conventional route of looking for investors, with some success I might add. But, in addition, he’s using crowd sourcing and has launched a Kickstarter campaign. You can find it here. Check it out, for a few bucks, one day you’ll be able to say you invested in Diströya Spirits.

What I think is particularly brilliant about the Kickstarter campaign is that at the same time as he is raising some money, he is building awareness.

Did I mention that he’s smart?

Come on… contribute a few bucks.

The Kickstarter campaign
The Kickstarter campaign


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Jägermeister Enters a New Era

Jägermeister Spice Bottle Image High-resJägermeister, a brand icon for decades, has just introduced a product extension called Jägermeister Spice. The product combines vanilla and cinnamon spices with the original Jägermeister ingredients. It will be available nationally in limited quantities starting this month.

Interesting – a limited edition spirit product. Wonder what they have in mind?

Regardless, from the handful of people I asked to taste the product, the results were very positive. “It’s perfect for this time of year…it’s like eating a holiday spiced cake.” One woman described it as “Jäeger’s softer, kinder relative.”

I think they have a winner here. It’s easy to drink; fun tasting and can go wherever the original product goes in those special Jäger occasions. But, the appeal moves it further along in the drinker’s repertoire. In that regard, the folks at Jägermeister have stayed true to the cardinal rule of product extensions – “feed the brand, don’t eat the brand.” In other words, I think it will bring new users, lapsed users and new occasions to the franchise. All without alienating those original round of Jäger shots moments.

As to the limited edition aspect, the company says that this first ever product extension will be limited to 100,000 cases this winter. The brand sells around 3 million cases so it’s a drop in the bucket.

Why limited edition?

One cynical industry observer thought that if the extension doesn’t work, they wouldn’t damage the base brand. It will just disappear. I’m not buying that.

I think that the best way to grow a franchise without denigrating the core audience is to periodically introduce seasonal or other temporary variations that – pardon the expression – spice things up and adds innovation to the mix. Perhaps we can expect a spring or summer variant. Or, maybe Spice will stick around.

Adam Rosen, EVP Marketing (and a smart, innovative one at that) summed the effort up –

“Jägermeister Spice offers both new drinkers and our longtime fans an innovative product that can be enjoyed in any setting. Whether served neat or mixed with cola, Spice offers new experiences and drinking occasions while delivering the same quality spirit that Jägermeister is known for.”

Looks like Jägermeister Spice is about to join the holiday festivities.

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