Two trips with Les Îles : The Second, Maximiliano Vallée Valletta
While I was talking to you about Maximiliano Vallée Valletta in our Winter 2019 issue with his Raices for Bacardi Legacy Cocktail, here he comes just from a trip to Asia with a brand new job as Managing Director of White Brands. Keys, Dry Gin Portage, Rhum Sainte-Marie and Les Îles aperitif. We met with Maximiliano Vallée Valletta on the day of his announcement, on April 12th.
So a new job?
Yes, big scoop this morning on the internet as they say. It happened a little by surprise. It’s been a long time since I’ve been working closely with Sylvain and his team in the events or the Terrible Kids, and they told me that it may have been a little early in their business process, in the sense that they were not ready to hire someone for a position like that, because I’m going to have two parts to my job, being a brand ambassador because it takes people on the ground like Julie Mecteau and Léa Messier at Duvernois who are very good friends, as general manager for the administrative side, to help Sylvain who is really good, but it’s been 4 years that he is all alone. At one point, he must delegate. I’m starting this Monday (April 15th) and it’s going to be the big task. So I accept this new challenge with pleasure.
How did this move happen to cross the fence? You who said to have gone around competitions with the Bacardi Legacy.
Yes exactly, I finished 3rd at the Canadian level with Bacardi Legacy. It is certain that if I had to continue what Sabrina did last year it would have been another trip, however, the opportunity I had there would not have arrived so quickly because I would still be doing promotion for Bacardi. But I mourned and I was lucky because in the last 7 years, I have really met a lot of people in competitions and outside, because I am a person who is always in the bars and in the restaurants, I have many people that I can call my friends in this industry. So, now it’s going to be going to meet them and bring it to another level together and Sylvain has done an incredible job, yes the goal is to talk about us, but it’s to continue to talk about Quebec products, and that everyone wants to embrace them, because in a long time we will be able to be in the first products in bars and take the market and just have fun.
We must also continue to produce quality and consistency.
Exactly, it’s the challenge, and we have it. Everything is well ordered and the guys work really well. What was important for me to be a brand ambassador, because yes I wanted to go to the spirits, it was to work for products that stick to my skin, and since day 1, that I am with them. We have already had meetings to talk about what is coming and we have products with which we can do immersive experiences. So this is a part that I want to develop. Sylvain is really good, but it’s not Superman. We double efficiency and productivity, we have signed an agreement with the people of Norway, we have a French distributor now. We have things coming to Japan, so it’s really exciting. One of the conditions for me to accept this new job was to be able to travel, and that was important for me, and to see what they developed without me being there, I feel like I’ll be on a plane quite often and also the Toronto market that we will attack fairly quickly.
That’s what Sylvain told me that you were going to develop the Toronto market.
Yes, and we must position ourselves as the people of Duvernois/Vins Philippe Dandurand did with Julie Mecteau and Lea Messier. Precisely, I do not attack the industry as a competition. I want to go out with Samuel Trudeau (from Bacardi), and go have some drinks with Julie in Toronto.
So it will be a busy summer for you.
Yes, especially with our new product Les Îles, it’s important that I make a big presence with the events and all as an ambassador. It is the time of the salons, and everything. Everything is fine for us and we are happy.
What’s interesting is that you take a direction where few Quebec distillers go. Some like Duvernois have chosen the loan to drink, you go elsewhere, at least for the moment.
Yes indeed, we want Les Îles to be a viable product before taking it further, but I will not hide the fact that there are plans for several projects in the future. I also raise my hat to Nicolas Duvernois and Stéphane Rochefort who have done an incredible job with their products, which are good and enjoyable, and with the Common Area, it was a stroke of genius.
How do you approach your brand ambassador’s work?
I am very inspired by the people I have seen doing this in the past, Sam Dalcourt, Matt Jones, Mario Amico, Julie Mecteau and Samuel Trudeau, who is probably one of the best jobs in a long time. It’s true that Sam, when he goes to a bar, he drinks Bacardi and he wants everyone to drink Bacardi, but the reality is that Sam is building a community and contacts and I do not think not that many people before him did something similar. Gizmo Sirois too, he is super cool. It’s really a mutual help, we do not have the same products, the same public and we help each other. It is important that if, for example, Frédérique Leblanc from Bellavita is a master class, we must be present and see what they do, but it is also important to have dinner together and have drinks with them. I must be there to build our community. The beauty of it is that now in life, I have a partner and what he does in life is that he sells alcohol, it is a machine Sylvain and everybody likes to work with him and he gets on well with everyone. He is a bit like Stéphane Rochefort, everyone loves him and wants to work with him.
So to finish you made us a cocktail?
Yes, The Bonaventure from the name of the Island in Gaspésie.
So let’s see the cocktail of Maximiliano Vallée Valletta, in our Behind the bar section!
Discover Les Îles in SAQ.