Spirited Conversation

Straight Talk. Served Neat.

Diplôme Gin: Vive La Difference! World War II French gin recipe coming to a bar near you

One aspect of Instagram that I love is the broad exposure to unknown people, places and things, and in my case, the world of spirits, (aka liquor). You can see pictures of crafting and cocktail mixing and, of course, people enjoying the finished product. One particular spirit that recently caught my attention was Diplôme gin. The beautiful and simple imagery on their Instagram feed evoked purity, quality and strong craftsmanship and this prompted me to learn more about the product and the company.  

I did some research and what a story I discovered! Since Memorial Day was coming up, I decided to reach out and have a Spirited Conversation Q&A with founder Edouard Betegnie.

Q. How did you get involved with Diplôme?

A. Several years ago, I was working a typical office job and decided I needed a change. I've always thought about owning my own business. I looked at a few options, and decided that the spirit/liquor industry was the way to go.   In France it’s not too complicated to start up this type of business so, along with an associate who had some background in this industry, I went for it.

The gin was made for the US Army under no brand name. I did some research to decide what direction to take in terms of the spirit I would choose. I found out that the family behind the gin recipe made it for American GIs stationed in Europe during World War II. Since glass was not available during wartime, they put the alcohol in Jerry (gasoline) cans that were couriered to different solider encampments.

The family kept producing the gin only for American military personnel, from 1945 until 1966 until the French President at the time, Charles DeGaulle, asked the American military personnel to leave France after France withdrew from NATO.  I thought this was the perfect story and product to go to market with. I bought the recipe in 2011, named it Diplôme and in 2012, I launched the business.

Q. What challenges did you face not having experience in this business?

A. I did not know anything except that I enjoyed drinking gin. I had to educate myself quickly and, lucky for me, the family taught me so much about how they got the recipe just right, the crafting process, etc. I also learned that educating the customer about gin; it's the style, complexity, etc. is very involved.  This only added to my appreciation and passion for what I was building.

Q. Talk about the crafting process – what is unique about Diplôme?

A. I want to be authentic to the recipe and the gin is made with no changes. The family distilled the product in Dijon because that region of France is known for it’s cuisine and rich abundance of ingredients – the botanicals, of which Diplôme has eight - that grows here. I had the grandfather walk me through every step of the process to ensure that I did not deviate in any way from the original process and ingredients.  In my opinion, Diplôme stands out in quality and structure among London Dry Gins. And the formula and resulting product is the same all over the world – no alterations whatsoever.

Q. How are you building your brand?

A. In 2012, we had positive customer feedback and started growing fast in France.   We wanted to get more exposure in additional European markets. We, of course, did not have a large marketing budget; we had to meet with distributors to create a more personal connection to get our products on shelves. The UK market was a challenge, of course, because we were so small amongst a saturated space.  The quality of our product, and a bit of luck, quickly resulted in a huge following in Portugal, Spain, even as far as Japan.

Today Belgium is our #1 market. Most exciting is our US launch this past February; our distributing partner is Heavenly Spirits. Mostly East Coast like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and starting to branch out to Illinois and California in the Fall.  We plan to use our highly-successful European model; working with independent stores and connecting with gin enthusiasts and bartenders. We have definitely learned over the last four years what we need to do to test-market and be ready to scale operations.

Q. If there was one person you would most want to share a Diplôme gin cocktail with who would it be and why?

A. With you! I really appreciate you reaching out and helping share our story. We are very excited to see our business grow and I'm glad to connect with people like yourself to spread the word of a world class product like Diplôme gin.

Visit: www.diplome-gin.com 

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