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“Distillers Can Be A Very Useful Tool In Sales And Marketing.” Says Joseph

In the interview below, Joseph P Lecours, Master Distiller at Victoria Distillers, discusses his career in distilling, his responsibilities as a master distiller, and his role in driving marketing and sales personally.

Phil is a native of Montreal, Quebec. Since 2010, Phil has been working with the distillery. As the only two full-time employees of what is now Victoria Distillers, he started working with Peter, the President at Victoria Distillers. Phil spent more than 20 years working as a chef and cook before transitioning to the world of luxury spirits. Phil started working as a Head distiller and Production supervisor at Victoria Distillers, where he was in charge of Victoria Distillers' entire spirit production. Innovating new products like the many award-winning Empress 1908 Gin, Oaken Gin, Victoria premium cocktail gin, Sidney Spiced(Rum), and Craigdarroch whisky. He has also worked at a high level of resource management and inventory and now working as a Master Distiller. His culinary training contributes to his sophisticated palate and knowledge of flavours, making him a valuable team member.

What has your distilling career been like? Tell us a little about your background.

My distilling career so far has been an excellent opportunity to grow creatively. It provides a good work-life balance. I was a cook and chef for 20 years, with kitchen hours all over the place. It was hard to maintain that balance.

How do you think the Spirits industry has evolved?

The spirit industry is constantly in flux, and there are always new advancements in processes and equipment. Distillers and distilleries are very customer focused. They are always looking for an edge over competitors. This breeds new ideas and flavours. Some brands have been around for hundreds of years and are considered “staples”. These “staple” brands are adding modern marketing and new SKUs to their portfolios to stay relevant. It’s great to be part of an industry that is always changing.

Victoria Distillers

Image: Victoria Distillers

Tell us a little about your day-to-day role.

I lead a team of young, eager distillers. I walk through the door and check in with the team. Troubleshooting if needed. Going over production requirements for the day. Touch base with the rest of the management team. My days are mainly teaching, reassuring, and mentoring the distilling staff. Ensuring QC is where it should be. I have been on the distilling floor for 15 years. I started out hauling pumps and tanks around a barn. With the company's growth, I, too, have been able to grow in my duties.

What's your elevator pitch to a bartender when pitching your brand?

I am not part of the sales and marketing team, so I have no pitch.

How do you think a distiller can help drive marketing and sales personally?

Customers love to meet the producer and get it straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were. Distillers can be a very useful tool in sales and marketing. There is a trade-off. If the distiller is not on the floor, who’s making the product?

Define a good distiller.

A good distiller is the same as any other team member—Hard-working, punctual, and reliable. Someone who loves to learn and explore, level headed, diligent, and trustworthy.


Which is your go-to drink, and what is the perfect setting you enjoy it in?

Gin and tonic are enjoyed on a sunny summer day.

What do you do when you are not distilling?

When not distilling, I spend all my time with family. My wife and kids are the most important thing in my life. But I watch a good bit of hockey when they are not around.

What is your idea of a good life?

My idea of a good life has friends and family around. I feel I can do anything as far as work goes. It is always better to like what you do. Money is the worst motivator. Like the adage says, “do what you like, and never work a day in your life”. 

Header Image: Joseph P Lecours

Call for domestic and international submission is now open for London Spirits Competition. Enter your spirits before 31 August 2024 to get super early bird pricing. Register now and ship later to save.

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