Drinks, Delight & Fragrance

Comte De Grasse, led by Bhagath Reddy, revolutionizes spirits with perfume-inspired technologies, producing distinctive gin and vodka. Positioned in Grasse, the world's fragrance capital, the company harnesses ultrasonic maceration and vacuum distillation, now venturing into sustainable production of dark spirits

By Spiritz Desk
New Update
Drinks, Delight & Fragrance

When Bhagath Reddy, CEO and Founder, Comte De Grasse, decided to set off on his entrepreneurial journey in the world of spirits, he wanted it to be one-of-its-kind. This took him on an exploration... He eventually reached his destination in a region known as the world capital of fragrance, where he could mix the heady aromas and flavours to create distinctive products that would re-define luxury in gin and vodka. Now, having tasted success across several countries, including India, Bhagath will soon venture into dark spirits - unfolding yet another chapter in his innovation.

The spirit of entrepreneurship is also related to a person's passion. And in the case of Bhagath Reddy, innovation and passion were perfectly matched. And so, after many years of building expertise in luxury brand management and luxury retail in the course of which he worked on introducing brands like Kate Spade, Tory Burch, etc. to the South-east Asian market, Bhagath finally decided to heed his inner call. With his family's deep-rooted passion for whisky and other spirits instilled in him at a young age and his own interest in spirits growing stronger over time, Bhagath decided that his journey of entrepreneurship should combine his passion with professional expertise.

Treading a New Path

The journey of setting up Comte De Grasse began with extensive research on where to establish the business. Given Bhagath's experience in the luxury retail space, he was drawn to Europe and narrowed the options to either France or Italy Through the process, he came across Grasse, known as the world capital of fragrance. "I was intrigued by the location as it has an abundance of the best, often rare, botanicals that grow freely, a near-perfect climate and an unrivalled culture of botanical extraction," he explains. Assuming that the fragrance and spirits sectors work in parallel when it comes to botanical extraction by using copper stills, Grasse in France became an ideal location to establish his company.

However, during a visit to Grasse and the University of Grasse in 2016, Bhagath discovered that the perfume industry had evolved and adopted advanced technologies, leaving copper stills behind. Because they dealt with delicate botanicals and flowers that required expensive and high-quality extraction methods, they invested in science and developed new molecular methods of distillation which were both qualitative and efficient. "This realisation changed everything for me," he says. Bhagath recognised that the same science used in the fragrance industry could be a major disruptor for the spirits industry too.

Fostered by Technology

That was when Comte De Grasse transformed from being just a spirit distillery to a liquor technology company rooted in science. Bhagath's ambition was to launch multiple brands across different categories and become the Tesla of the spirits industry. Bhagath's distillery draws inspiration from the fragrance industry's use of technology and the company aspires to drive innovation in the creation of spirits. "Our aim is to make this age-old industry more dynamic and sustainable," he asserts. By utilising both cutting-edge technology and traditional perfume extraction methods, Comte De Grasse has successfully segmented spirits into distinct flavour categories.

44 N Vodka

It has identified their molecular composition and re-engineered these flavours to create luxury spirits that offer more than just taste. They also provide an unparalleled aroma and an overall sensory experience. The scientific approach adopted by the fragrance industry enabled Comte De Grasse to surpass the traditional and age-old practices that prevailed in the market. This approach inspired by fragrance gave it a distinctive and qualitative edge over traditional spirits in two ways: first, their product itself has a distinct feel and secondly, its quality monitoring and checks.

The company uses fragrance science and technology to extract and preserve delicate and complex flavours that are not typically found in traditional spirits. The company's unique distilling methods involve ultrasonic maceration, vacuum distillation and high-pressure plasma of CO2, enabling it to create truly innovative and one-of-a-kind spirits. "Our master scientist and innovator, Marie-Anne Contamin, is an expert in layering flavours and has spent months perfecting the science and innovation behind our liquid creations," Bhagath informs.

In this scenario, the impact of perfume and frequency technology on their gin and vodka in terms of flavour is significant. 

However, he views that the most prevalent way to reengineer the spirits of tomorrow lies in the dark spirits, where tradition and ageing play a huge role. Therefore, Comte De Grasse is working on accelerated ageing technologies and has already developed one which it is in the process of patenting and protecting before launching it into the market.

This technology will help reduce the carbon and energy footprint associated with ageing without compromising the quality or flavour aspect of a fine whisky or dark spirit. As Bhagath opines, overall, a quantum shift is needed in adapting modern and more energy-efficient distillation methods like vacuum distillation. It is crucial to identify whether traditional forms of distillation bring value.

What is in a Name?

Comte De Grasse has found unique names for its products - the 44°N Gin and 06 Vodka Rosé. The name 44°N Gin was chosen after the geographic coordinates of Grasse. The name not only reflects its connection to the region, but also embodies the spirit of the gin. "Our goal was to capture the essence of the Mediterranean Sea and its surrounding landscape in every drop of our gin, and we believe that the name defines our product as one inspired by the region's sunshine, warmth and botanicals and is crafted with passion and innovation unlike any other," Bhagath elaborates. In the case of 06 Vodka Rosé the name is inspired by the beautiful time of 6 pm in Provence, France, when friends come together to enjoy a glass of rose and take in the magical beauty of the stunning pink skies. The vodka embodies the essence of this time as a lifestyle. The pink hue of the vodka in glass bottles simulates the colours of the sky as the sun begins to set over the mountains and coastline; creating a truly unique and visually stunning experience.

The Production Magic

06 Vodka Rose

At Comte De Grasse, the gin-making process begins with the selection of the best possible botanicals. The team has shortlisted about 200 botanicals from the fragrance industry, and out of those they found 22 that translated well from fragrance to flavour. This was a trial-and-error process that took them 15 months and was a significant investment, but it provided a vast database of how different botanicals behave under different conditions.

He informs that to distil the gin, the company uses a three-step process that starts with ultrasonic maceration, where sound waves are used to fast track the extraction process and get a qualitative edge. This is followed by the vacuum distillation system, which is one of the largest in the spirits world.

The gin is distilled in cold temperatures between 28-50 degrees Celsius, which allows for more flavour molecules to be retained within the liquid, providing a unique experience for consumers. Finally, for certain botanicals, it uses a CO2, extraction process, where compressed carbon dioxide is used as a solvent to extract the flavour. This three-step process is focused on delivering a different flavour experience and a long palate to the consumers. "We selected botanicals based on their ability to adapt to this process and deliver on both flavour and fragrance," Bhagath informs.

The Adventure Continues

Not one to rest on his past laurels, Bhagath is leading Comte De Grasse to begun exploring dark spirits too. In the first phase of its research Comte De Grasse focused on optimising the flavour of white spirits. Towards the end of last year, it shifted its focus towards transferring the knowledge gained from this research into the creation of dark spirits. The company is now developing a range of dark spirits, which will include rum, whisky and brandy which will be available soon.