Interview with Grzegorz Grabowski Managing Director at Toruńskie Wódki Gatunkowe.
The Toruńskie Wódki Gatunkowe has been producing alcohol for almost 140 years! What is the recipe for success? What distinguishes the factory and your spirits?
Toruńskie Wódki Gatunkowe is primarily people, their long-term experience passed down through generations and great commitment to work. We are one team with the same goal – care for the high quality of our products. Staring from the selection of the list of suppliers, through the process of liquor production, to packaging design – every detail is important to us. We also draw all the best from nature – we have our own deep water intake, we buy the best raw materials from Polish producers and we create our own macerates, which gives our products a deep, original taste.
What trends dominate on the alcohol market in 2023 and how does the offer of Toruńskie Wódki Gatunkowe fit into them?
The latest trend that we observe on the alcohol market are regional and natural products. A visible direction is also the search for unusual flavor variants, which is why our alcohols include pure vodkas made of spelt and potato spirits or flavored vodkas with unusual combinations, such as raspberry with chilli. Currently, we are still looking for different solutions, like for exaple juniper with coffee. Our customers are more and more willing to choose their own brands, which we prepare together, even in smaller volumes.
Quality is something you put first. Are customers are still faithful to quality despite rising prices? How do polish people view premium categories and what is the attitude of foreign consumers to high-end liquors?
In terms of pure vodkas, the premium category has its value, while in flavored alcohols it is still a journey and a search for novelties. Customers want to be surprised, but at the same time they expect safe products in the premium space. Toruńskie Wódki Gatunkowe can boast of such products - in the case of premium vodkas, it will be, for example, Wódka Jednorodna Spelt, awarded a gold medal in the Warsaw Spirit Competition, or Retman Vodka Crystal and Strong, which received a silver medal in the San Francisco World Spirit Competition. Both Polish and foreign consumers look for value in tasting alcohols, combine them in foodpairing and mixology, discovering new flavors and the culture of drinking vodka.
Please tell us about the production facilities and original recipes of your drinks.
The high quality of the spirit is due not only to carefully selected raw materials and experienced staff, but also to the 5-column rectification apparatus, unique in Europe, produced by the Italian company Mussi. Selected spirits (potato, spelled and other cereal spirits) are kept in dedicated tanks. All macerates are made on the basis of our original recipes with the use of fruit and spices. Together with our clients and on their behalf, we discover a new area in combining various spirits in pure vodkas.
Is there room for innovation in the production of traditional, craft spirits?
It is a forge of innovation! We recall forgotten spices, varieties and types of fruit, we combine them with each other. There are also different types of honey. We focus on the classics, offering flavors such as plum with clove, cherry, slivovitz, but also on modernity (raspberry with chilli, juniper combined with coffee).
Alcohols produced in Toruń were known in Europe, Asia and Africa already before World War I. What range do you currently have, in which countries are your drinks particularly popular?
We are challenged by the whole globe - mainly Europe and the United States, but in the spirit of “a drop hollows out a rock”, we also develop projects in the Asian direction. This is a long-term action, but we are already seeing a large increase in interest in Polish spirits.
Please tell us more about your export offer.
We are open to cooperation with foreign business partners, to whom we can offer the sale of our products and our brands, as well as private brands (“private labels”) owned by a foreign distributor.
We provide comprehensive export services: from preparing product labels for a particular country, preparing the necessary phytosanitary documentation to the organization of transport and customs procedures. We deliver the selected goods literally to the provided address.
We help to implement clients’ projects by providing them with our spirits as a composite for production, i.e. spirits in tanks or sold in IBCs.
How to meet the challenges brought by 2023 - please comment from the manufacturer/exporter.
The year 2023 greeted us with a crazy increase in the prices of dry materials (bottles, labels, closures, collective packaging), a five-percent increase in excise duty on the domestic market. We have decided to implement projects closer to the client - we create micro and macro local brands with the participation of components and recipes from various parts of Poland and the world.
What are your plans for the coming months and years? Investments, news or maybe some changes in the portfolio?
For Toruńskie Wódki Gatunkowe, 2023 will be marked by new products and investments. Soon, a new line of vodkas from the Toruńska brand will be launched, which has undergone rebranding of the packaging - standard flavors will be available in a new bottle with a changed label. Our other flagship products will also be refreshed - Śliwowica Polska and Hubertówka Leśna. There will certainly be new flavors under these brands. We are also preparing to expand and enrich the business offer addressed to companies and to develop the project of individual private labels with small volumes, e.g. by introducing personalized packaging.
Thank you for the interview.