NBCC were pleased to recently interview Joris Putman, the co-founder of Clusius Craft Distillers. This privately held craft distillery invented a unique distilling process to produce a premium world-class alcohol from Dutch Tulip Bulbs. Their distillery is located in Katwijk, part of the Dutch dunes & tulip fields region.
What is Clusius Craft Distillers?
Clusius Craft Distiller is a family-run distiller in Holland where we produce Dutch spirits from Tulip bulbs. We have two specialty spirits, the Tulip Vodka and the Tulip Eau de Vie.
Would you say the Tulip spirits is your USP?
Absolutely, in our distillery, we process the bulbs to alcohol by fermentation and after that distillation. Our Tulip vodka is a blend of grain alcohol and tulip alcohol, and our Tulip eau-de-vie, which we call the Prestige, is 100% from tulips. We are the only company in the world that makes a spirit 100% from tulips.
Why did you set up Clusius Craft Distillers?
It originally came from an idea in a bar. I was sitting there with friend enjoying a beer when we started to talk about how it would be interesting to make our own vodka. To make alcohol you need starch and eventually sugar. Normally people use grain or potatoes for this, but I thought “how can I make a truly unique vodka?”. And suddenly I just knew: I’m going to use tulip bulbs, because they contain a lot of these ingredients. I knew about this because one side of my family has been growing tulips for over 300 years. It was very exciting that we could not find any historical records of people making alcohol from tulip bulbs- lots of food recipes to cook with tulip bulbs, but no alcohol. So at that point, I knew that we had something truly unique and decided to build a distillery together with my cousin Bart Bouter to create a brand new Dutch quality product: Clusius Tulip Vodka.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your business?
I can tell you it was difficult that many international customers no longer came to Holland. Also, restaurants and bars were closed because of the lockdowns. We had very little tulip vodka sales, so from that point very early in the first lockdown, I thought “okay, we need to do something else”, so we started producing hand sanitisers because there was a great shortage of hand sanitiser in the market. Using our resources on alcohol to be of help in controlling the pandemic and at the same time creating a new source of income for our distillery we could continue production. A lot of people were very happy with it because the hand sanitiser we made was of very high quality. Now, we no longer make hand sanitiser and are fully focused on the tulip vodka once again.
Yes, of course the Brexit does have impact. This is mostly because of import and export issues. I think you could also turn it around that you can ask, "Has COVID impacted the Brexit?". I think the combination of the two is the perfect storm, currently fueled up by the war in Ukraine.
How big is the UK market to you?
I think the UK market is an important market for us, but mostly unexplored. There are, of course some of the world's best cocktail bars out there. I think also from another perspective, tulips. A lot of people in the UK really like tulips, so there's a good match there. But I think it's difficult for many brands to enter new markets in times like this.
How big is the NL market to you?
The Dutch market is our main market. We have online retail but the duty-free shops in the Schiphol airport is also an important location to us. We hope that people start travelling again, as usual, to see our products there.
Why did you join NBCC?
I believe that the NBCC brings people together. So you always have more chance of creating opportunities for new business, and the way NBCC does that is very productive for us.
What are your plans for future growth that you can share with the NBCC members?
That’s really simple actually: reach out to us if you are interested in working together.
So it sounds like we all need to take a sip of Clusius Tulip Vodka!
And if you want to make your afternoon drink more special, check out their drinks for some excellent cocktail recipes you can make in the comfort of your home. If you want to collaborate with them for an after lockdown company drink session, don’t hesitate to contact them here!