Here’s an interview with Jesper on how he started distilling his own gin first, but now distributes globally made gins via Denmark’s biggest craft gin network. I hope you find it an inspiring story, that stimulates you to think out of the box regarding your own local distribution. Or maybe Jesper’s initiative offers you iStillers a springboard to enter the Danish market with your gin, rum, or whiskey? If so, and if you want to learn more, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Jesper directly via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jesper, can you tell us a bit more on how you got involved in the alcohol industry?
It was a coincidence that I ended up in this industry. About 3 years ago my wife was fired from her job as an international sales manager in a big Danish company, as the company was sold and moved. As a consequence she had a lot of time home with a salary from the job.
She wanted to start up a company, but didn’t know what. We were following a lot of sites who sold companies, and suddenly we saw that BeGin Copenhagen was up for sale. At that time BeGin was a concept developed around a RTD (gin/tonic) by two students – as part of their exams. My wife e-mailed me the case and 48 hrs later we owned BeGin. We then started to produce RTD. So by a few random factors I ended up as Co-owner in BeGin – first as a RTD producer.
BeGin’s gins …
And what about Gin Butikken? How did it come to be?
Ginbutikken.dk was one of our biggest customers in BeGin Copenhagen. Ginbutikken.dk is one of the largest gin-webshops in Denmark – with around 500 different gins on the shelf. I started to work with Ginbtuikken.dk as one of the first customers in BeGin Cph.
A year ago my wife had the opportunity to buy a part of another company in Denmark, why I took over BeGin Copenhagen myself. I needed someone to help me with sales, marketing, and staff. On the side I run a law-firm as well – so I had my hands full to be honest :)I started to work with Ginbutikken.dk as a lawyer as well – as I helped them with company setup, knowledge and so. As our cooperation started to grow on several fronts we decided about 9 months ago to join the two companies.Today I own 50% of Ginbutikken.dk and BeGin Copenhagen, and my partner Kenneth owns the other 50% of the companies.
6 months ago we moved both companies to a new location, setting up our online webshop with new facilities. We will open a new showroom/shop in about a month. We just finished our new distillery at the same site, and are currently building a gin school after some good inputs from Shakespeare Distillery (also iStill Customer) in the UK. Big thanks to those guys 🙂
We currently employ 4 people beside Kenneth and me – so we are growing. The idea is to make Denmark’s most exciting gin-house, with a shop with all kinds of gin, a gin school and the distillery.
Over 500 gins are being distributed …
What makes Gin Butikken different or special for the consumer?
First of all – we do everything to please our customers and to give them the best experience. We import a lot of gin from the craft distillers ourselves. We do that from all over the world. We love that, and that is our main goal. We prefer to be the first mover. Some of the things we import we also sell to bars, restaurants, and events. People know we have a wide selection of gins and other liquor. So we also have a wide range of B2B-sales.
The consumers love our variety – love we have the gins they can’t find anywhere else in Denmark. They also love our prices, as we often can sell to a reasonable price, as we do our own import.
How could Gin Butikken help out craft distillers?
We would love to import spirits from craft distillers and expand our range of superb quality. We could provide a good starting position for export to Denmark and a growing market.
Croatia’s famous “Old Pilot’s Gin” is already represented by BeGin …
The Gin Butikken model is mostly tailored towards bringing in gins from all over the world but distributing them primarily in your home country Denmark. Would the Gin Butikken model work for other countries? Would you enjoy playing a role to maybe scaling this initiative up to 1. Other countries; 2. Other drink categories?
At the moment we only sell to Denmark mostly. But we are finalizing some cooperation plans with a partner which would give us access to some of the Scandinavian markets, as they are state owned. That would give us some very interesting export solutions. We also have other spirits than gin – but gin is currently our main goal. We would love to do more whiskey and rum as well – and are buying more and more of this. Again, we would love to have what you can’t find all over. iStill owners might both do rum, whiskey and gin – and that could be very interesting to have a whole range of that in our shop.
Craft gins from around the world on display …
What is your connection to iStill? How did you find us and what is your feedback on working with us?
BeGin Copenhagen is a customer of iStill – and we just set up our brand new distillery with iStill equipment. We love it. I was introduced to iStill by a friend of mine who works in the beer-industry. I asked him a few years ago which still I should buy when I should set up my new distillery. He told me to look at iStill, and a month later I bought a Mini, completed the course and started testing and testing. I love to work with the Mini. So far I have enjoyed every moment of cooperation – always friendly, direct and easy to communicate with iStill and the employees.
Any final thoughts or ideas you’d like to share with the audience?
All iStillers are more than welcome to visit us in Denmark – to see our setup. If anyone is interested we would love to get in touch to start up cooperation or exchanging liquors.
BeGin’s own gins are produced on iStills …
Post Scriptum by Odin
Many years ago we thought it a good idea to help create a global distribution network for craft distilled spirits. With education, training, and the efficient production of high-quality spirits solved by iStill and the iStill University, it made sense to tackle the next big problem, AKA distribution.
The idea resonated through the industry, but never really became more than, well, just that: an idea. Analyzing why such an a priori good idea didn’t become a success taught us that a global craft distilling network could not be organized centrally. It HAD to be a bottom-up, grass-root movement. By and for the craft distiller. Not by iStill.
Do we see, in BeGin’s approach, the beginning of such a bottom-up, grass-root movement? To be perfectly clear: I do not make any claim that we helped inspire this. Not at all! I am only stating that the approach explained above is inspiring. To me and hopefully to many other craft distillers.
I find it inspiring that craft distillers wanting to enter the Danish market now have an outlet. Or a market entry, for that matter. I find it even more inspiring to think about what power it brings to the craft distiller that decides to become an importer and distributor of other craft distilled spirits, from other countries and continents. The B2C sales helps you bypass other distribution networks. And B2B sales might benefit hugely, because you now have so much more to offer than “just” your drinks!