It is kind of a funny story. In 2014 we founded a company that specializes in cocoa products, named Xolato, where we mainly sell Belgian chocolates, ice cream, specialty chocolates, etc. and we also sell chocolate-themed workshops.
Late 2015, with the Gin & Tonic hype in Belgium at its peak, we had the idea to make a cocoa based gin for our friends & family. We were planning a batch of 50 bottles.
We didn’t expect the massive success and have sold more than 10.000 bottles since the beginning of 2016.
The biggest challenge is finding good people. We have had some negative experience and we have been promised the world, but in the end, most of it was a waste of time.
We now try to do everything step by step and ourselves. For instance, instead of working with a lot of distributors in Belgium, we have chosen 1 to work with and we have hired 10 people since the beginning of 2016 who are full time promoting and advertising our gin.
The amount of gins on the market is massive and there are truly a lot of great products. Perhaps, the biggest difference with most gins is that ours also qualifies as a digestive (like cognac & brand) and that you can enjoy it neat (on the rocks) without a mixer.
Our packaging is also a bit naughty, when you look closely at the bottle, you will find some inspiration for the bedroom (Kama Sutra)…
We strongly believe in craftsmanship. The gin itself is bottled & distilled by De Moor (Aalst), one of the last strongholds of artisan gin making in Belgium.
The labelling, the tube with cacao nips, the packaging, etc. are all done at a local workshop where we can provide work for 3 people with a mental disability – something we are also very proud of.
The botte also holds value. To get that golden finish, REAL plated gold was used. So if you were to save some 1.000 bottles, melt the gold, you could probably make a great ring.
Because we decided to mainly focus on becoming a brand in Belgium we don’t have any resources left to expand very rapidly internationally ourselves.
We are working with a sales agent in the UK who is doing good work and we have also sold some random cases directly to the Netherlands, Spain and the USA.
We mostly refer international customers to the webshop of www.masterofmalt.com because they ship around the world.
We aim to be among those top 5 gin brands that are top-of-mind (in Belgium). We have 7 sales promotors on the road to realize that goal by the end of next year.
Our dream is the world, but we’ll start step-by-step.
Legend states that only the privileged ones were allowed to drink it. These days, everybody has a bit of divinity in them.
I can truly say: We haven’t had any negative feedback about our product from anybody regarding taste, which in my opinion means we have developed a mainstream tasting gin.
We can say that we are very well organized because we are very controlling: our gin is our baby so it has to be perfect. We can up production to a ten-fold of what it is today but we are struggling with the time to contact and follow-up on distributors.
The instant gratification you get when you see the smile on peoples face when they take a sip of our X-Gin.
For more information visit X-Gin website.