Sorel Liqueur Moves Up a Notch

Sorel Artisanal Liqueur has a new partner

The Buffalo Trace Newsletter (Industry News Update) and Wine and Spirits Daily have announced that the Mahalo SpiritsScreen Shot 2015-03-31 at 2.03.09 PM Group and Sorel Liqueur have joined forces. Here’s the story behind the story.

Mahalo cofounded Angel’s Envy (recently acquired by Bacardi) and also Papa’s Pilar Rum.

Sorel Liqueur is owned by Jack From Brooklyn Inc whose CEO is Jackie Summers. If you have been a reader of this blog then you’ve met Jackie, starting in 2012 with this post. In fact, I’ve written about him and Sorel at least four times since then.

From the first time I met him, I knew that he and his unique product were here for the duration; that he was destined to move forward and beat the startup odds.

Briefly put, Jackie and Sorel have, what I like to think of as, the 4P’s of growth.

Product

Sorel is a modern twist on an exotic classic. An artisanal hibiscus liqueur, handcrafted in Brooklyn, Sorel is based on a traditional Caribbean recipe. Its ingredients read like a World Almanac – Brazilian clove, Nigerian ginger, Indonesian cassia, Moroccan hibiscus, Indonesian nutmeg, blended with organic New York neutral grain alcohol. Its unique taste, aroma and distinctive flavor have caught the attention of consumers and mixologists alike.

What I especially like is it’s a terrific product over ice, neat or with a mixer. But, it’s also an awesome addition to other products like whiskey, rum, vodka, and sparkling wine. That’s why mixologists and consumers love it. In some respects it reminds me of St. Germain, but more universal in its use.

So, check the box marked, “it’s what’s in the bottle that counts.”

Perseverance

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Jackie Summers

And… persistence and patience. Three years ago, all Jackie had was an idea and a dream. Four years ago, he had a life-altering event (golf ball sized tumor on his spine) and was given a 5% chance of survival. He survived and decided to change his life “by doing something serious.” Jackie founded the company and Sorel was launched.

As if startup growing pains and headaches weren’t enough, along came Hurricane Sandy. Together with most of the Red Hook section of Brooklyn and other fledgling distilleries, Jackie’s facility was literally under water. Five feet of seawater, to be exact.

Jackie didn’t give up. Just worked harder. When I blogged about him and Sandy (Oct 31, 2012), I said that he reminded me of one of my favorite expressions: What doesn’t defeat me makes me stronger.

People

Here is this newcomer to the booze business and right off the bat he does a few things – simple things – that most startup entrepreneurs don’t do. He listens and learns and surrounds himself with people who can offer advice.

In the three years I’ve known Jackie we have had dozens if not scores of conversations about the business. Truth be told, I’ve learned as much from him as he did from me.

And, by way of full disclosure, I am now on his board. Also on the board are Stephen Lewin of Lewin Brand Group and Diana Sonis, a successful entrepreneur and startup founder. Rounding out the team is Summer Lee, VP Sales at Jack From Brooklyn and among the smartest salespeople I know.

So add people skills to the mix.

Partnership

As I’ve written many times, the booze business is about people and relationships. All it took for the Mahalo people was to listen to Jackie talk about Sorel and share his vision for the future. They haven’t really worked on other people’s brands so Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 2.00.43 PMSorel is a departure for them.

They get to partner with a brand that’s poised for future growth and Sorel gets a world-class sales and distribution network run by Bill McGough, an accomplished industry marketing and sales executive with an incredible track record.

This is a ‘marriage’ made in heaven.

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From Ballet to Booze

Meet Allison Patel, a whisky-loving woman and former ballerina.

Allison is the owner/producer of her own whisky, Brenne, a French Single Malt made in Cognac, France. She reinvented herself into the booze business as a second career after hanging up her tutu and pointe shoes.

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Brenne whisky, an incredible product.

I am very glad she did – trust me when I tell you it’s a terrific world-class whisky. It’s very unique, smooth and approachable.

Here’s the product story:

Brenne is made from estate-grown barley and is harvested, distilled, matured and bottled in Cognac, France. The expertise in distilling comes from a 3rd generation craft distiller. As Allison describes it, “It’s crafted from seed to spirit.” The taste is extraordinary and is a result of the malted barley and the barreling. Brenne Whisky starts in new Limousin oak barrels and is finished in Cognac casks, giving it a slight hint of fruit that sets it apart from other whiskies. Each bottle comes from a single barrel selected at its peak. Brenne was officially launched in October 2012 but only after many years of developing and maturing her product. So, add patience to Allison’s skill set.

Allison’s story is no less interesting:

She and her husband have always shared a passion for food and drink from all over the world. Making an effort to visit local markets, wineries, and distilleries in their travels, they have developed an appreciation of great taste experiences, especially with their favorite category — whisky.

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Allison Patel with Brenne whisky

After failing to find many “non-traditional” whiskies in the US, Allison took it into own her hands and started setting up an import/export company for this sole purpose. Allison is a most interesting person with drive and tenacity, mixed with charm and humility. She launched a brand and still managed to maintain a balanced view of her efforts. One chat with Allison is all it takes to feel great about the future of the spirits industry. From Allison’s personal blog, The Whisky Woman, about being a booze business startup:

This is not an easy road at all.  Naturally, I only share publicly the highlights of this journey, but I tell people who are thinking about starting their own brand in the spirits world to not be fooled by the happy-go-lucky social media sharing; everything looks easier then it seems, even the stuff that looks impossible.  But… the moment when you start to realize your dream is becoming a reality is unlike anything else.  Its deep, exciting and can rock you to the core.

I guess that dancing on your toes is good training for the booze business.

By the way,

She and another new and exciting booze business entrepreneur, Jack Summers (Sorel Liqueur), often team up for joint promotion opportunities. In fact, it was Jack who introduced us and recently introduced me to a Brenne and Sorel cocktail called The Last Call. We’re talking amazing here, folks. (Recipe: 2 oz Brenne, 1 oz Sorel, let it rest and breath for a minute.)

 

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Allison Patel and Jack Summers enjoying the fruits of their labor — The Last Call. Photo credit: Christina Soto-Chimelis
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