Matt Dunn: How to create a new luxury spirit. Part Two

Matt Dunn

Read part 1 here

In the second part of this article, I conclude our discussion on key elements of creating a new, unique spirit in today’s highly competitive market.

4. Build Business Relationships

The supply chain of a spirit involves a number of businesses. You need to source ingredients, distil your spirit, bottle it, add well-designed labels, export the spirit to different countries, and distribute and sell your product within each country. There’s a lot that can go wrong.

To ensure the smoothest and most reliable supply chain, it is highly recommended to choose each of your partners wisely. We prefer making sure that they each adhere to the following three criteria: 

1. Does the person or company possess the best possible experience and expertise? 

2. Are they passionate about my business and vision? 

3. Are they a person or company with whom we could develop a friendship with? 

While the first two are critical (and perhaps a bit obvious), for us, the third element is equally important. You want to know that the people you are dealing with and relying on are people you like and trust. Our partnership with the Pisoni family has developed into a close friendship and we now go skiing with them every year in the Swiss Alps. We discuss business issues that invariable arise as friends, knowing that we can (and will) find a mutually agreeable solution to any and all situations that arise.

5. Consider Your Branding

Drinking a premium spirit is as much about the experience as the flavour. Consider what makes your spirit unique. What do you want to evoke as your customers drink it? You should also consider the textures on your label and the look and feel of any box that may accompany it. Make sure everything convenes your brand in a consistent and appealing way.

We didn’t just want people to enjoy the flavour of Cadello, we wanted every aspect of the experience to connect back to an 18th century Venetian masked balls. 

The first aspect of this is reflected in the name. The name ‘Cadello’ is a derivation of sorts. In Venice, the word casa is abbreviated to ‘ca, particularly when used to name a family’s house. We wanted to name our new spirit after a Venetian palace where grand masked balls would have been held. Hence… Ca’ Dello… Cadello. 

Our logo is the “Ferro Dragon” (created by one of our founders). The head of the logo is a dragon, which represents China ‒ a source of several of our ingredients along the old Silk Route. The tail of the logo is actually a ‘ferro’ ‒ the distinct prow of a Venetian gondola ‒ which represents Italy. 

The ‘88’ on our bottle represents the fact that there are 8 ingredients in Cadello and, in Chinese culture, 88 is considered the luckiest number. Finally, we added a subtle mask in the background of our label to represent the masked balls of Venice where we imagined Cadello would have been served.

I would recommend starting from basic principles: Why did you create your spirit and for whom? Then consider your brand as a whole, including your brand name, before drilling down into the specifics like the bottle and label design. 

6. Test the Market

Finally, it’s important to test your spirit on the market. You may like it, but you’re also too close to be objective. 

We test marketed Cadello in Switzerland for 6-7 months. While Switzerland was never intended to be one of our major markets, we wanted to gauge reactions from restaurants and bars in Zurich before we formally launched Cadello in the UK in Sept 2018.

Ideally, I would recommend testing in your initial launch market as tastes are different across different geographical locations. If this is not possible or you have a particular opportunity to test in a different region, use whatever is available. You should also be prepared to take on board feedback and develop your product or brand accordingly. It may feel like a sacrifice but, ultimately, you’ll end up with a better product for it.

We truly believe there are exciting times ahead for those who love to experiment and want to create new and unique spirits. The market for new, unique, high quality is growing perhaps faster than it ever has – and there is plenty of demand for more high-quality products that offer new flavour profiles. To make a real business success out of your creations, however, it takes more than a nice tasting spirit. You need to have a well-developed brand and story behind it. Hopefully, my experience will help keep you on track as you progress. Good luck!


Matt Dunn is co-founder of Cadello, a new, category-defining spirit produced by a 150year-old family-owned distillery in Italy. A unique flavour combining eight ingredients, Cadello is perfect served neat or in cocktails. 




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