Young Guns Reloaded: The Blooming of Elderflower Liqueur

Three years ago, Rob Cooper, the CEO of Cooper Spirits, was confident that his St. Germain elderflower liqueur was going to take off--despite many naysayers.

Today, that confidence seems to have paid off, and St. Germain is making its mark on the spirits business, one petal at a time.

The high-end, high-quality liqueur made from elderflower blossoms hand picked in the French alps, retails for around $30 a bottle.

“We’ve grown far beyond my expectations,” said Cooper, who, when we last spoke with three years ago, was hoping to be cash-flow positive by the end of 2009. “So this year we are going to do about $16.5 million in revenue.”

“The rewards can be tremendous if you are able to create a successful brand”

- Rob Cooper, CEO of Cooper Spirits

The rapid success of St. Germain--which is showcased on high-end restaurant’s menus around the country and sold in more than 16 countries--is not the norm for the highly-competitive spirits industry.

“The rewards can be tremendous if you are able to create a successful brand,” said Cooper. “But to do that is almost impossible since it’s so heavily controlled by a few major spirits suppliers.”

He said having a unique product—one that’s not another vodka or rum—was critical to his company’s fast rise, but he warns it can be a double-edged sword.

“It’s something again that is very difficult because it’s esoteric and you have to pour a lot of energy into educating people about what the product is and how they can integrate it into their offerings,” he said. “But once you kind of breakthrough that barrier it can really be an advantage because you’re sort of immune to competition.”

It’s also about timing. He says his hand-crafted liqueur goes hand-in-hand with the rise in speakeasies and bartenders putting a lot of creativity into drinks.

“It has the blend of a very approachable, delicious flavor with an integrity driven production process which dovetails really nicely with the trend in the marketplace of farm to table and people wanting to know where their foods are coming from, he said. "So we’ve been very lucky.”

Cheers to that.

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