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Spirited Horizons: The De Kuyper Legacy in Sustainable Distillation

Navigating Partnerships, Eco-Friendly Spirits, and Global Cocktail Culture

In the heart of the distillation tradition, De Kuyper Royal Distillers has been crafting liqueurs as a labor of love for over three centuries. With a commitment to quality, innovation, and sustainability, the family-owned business has woven a narrative that spans generations. We talk to Godelief van Erve, Global Marketing Director of De Kuyper,  unraveling their story, exploring its recent partnership with ecoSPIRITS, pioneering sustainability initiatives, and the exciting launch of their Ready to Serve Cocktails. From closed-loop distribution systems to global recognition, join us on a journey through the spirited world of De Kuyper.

Can you provide a brief overview of De Kuyper Royal Distillers, its history, and the values that have been passed down through generations?

De Kuyper Royal Distillers was founded back in 1695. Since then, De Kuyper has been a family business, that has been handed over from one generation to another. Our entrepreneurial family-company spirit and our strong focus on craftsmanship have always been the base for new opportunities driving the industry. Next to our heritage, curiosity, and passion for innovative distilled products at the heart of great-tasting cocktails are our constant motivations. Following our vision to “Own the Cocktail” we aim to enable everyone to enjoy great cocktails on every occasion.

 Today, we are among the world’s leading liqueur distilleries. The De Kuyper brand is the world’s largest premium cocktail liqueur brand. In addition to many trophies and awards for its spirits, liqueurs and premixed cocktails De Kuyper received the prestigious “Liqueur Producer of the Year” award from the internationally leading LSC in 2023 for the fifth time in a row.

Image: Winners of London Spirits Competition 2023


De Kuyper has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability. Can you elaborate on the specific sustainability projects and initiatives underway throughout the value chain, including responsible consumption, sourcing, and production?

We are committed to implementing sustainable and responsible solutions throughout the value chain. From the sourcing of ingredients and packaging to the production, distribution, sales, marketing, and consumption of our spirits. Below is a selection of projects and initiatives underway:

Sustainability criteria are integrated into supplier onboarding and audits, and we are working to expand our supplier assessment program.

- We are making changes to our packaging to make it more sustainable:

- We have completed the redesign of our Cherry Heering and Mandarine Napoléon bottles, reducing the weight of the glass.

- De Kuyper Royal Distillers is the licensed operator for ecoSPIRITS Benelux to introduce a new circular packaging technology for on-trade in the Netherlands and Belgium.

- Our new BiB (bag-in-box) production line is operational, and distribution will begin shortly.

- We are working on redesigns for high-volume SKUs such as Archers, De Kuyper Range, and Peachtree to reduce the weight of the glass and increase the use of recycled glass.

We are investing in making our modern, efficient distilleries and bottling plants in Schiedam, Dordrecht, and Middelharnis more sustainable:

- Measures to reduce energy consumption were implemented at our Middelharnis, Schiedam, and Dordrecht sites. These include replacing all lighting with LED lights with motion sensors, optimizing the cooling water system and air handling units, and installing a new steam generator.

- In Middelharnis and Schiedam, we use solar panels to generate a share of the electricity we need. For the monumental building in Dordrecht, efforts are underway to obtain permission to install solar panels.

- Waste streams have been mapped for all our sites and waste from production facilities and offices is separated. We work with waste management companies to reuse or recycle waste.

We are reducing the climate impact of commuting and business travel globally, in part by switching to an electric vehicle fleet, encouraging employees to travel by bicycle or public transport, and by doing more meetings abroad through MSTeams.

The distribution of our spirits is optimized to reduce the number of movements required and to maximize palletized loads. Together with our partner NedCargo, we are working to improve the sustainability of spirits storage and distribution.

We want to empower consumers to make informed choices and promote moderate alcohol consumption:

- We inform consumers about the nutritional value of our products and the health risks of excessive alcohol consumption.

- We focus our marketing activities only on consumers who have reached the legal drinking age and support measures to achieve this.

We develop and promote non-alcoholic and low-alcohol cocktails with a similar taste and experience to the alcoholic variants:

- We have introduced the 'De Kuyper Zero' range, consisting of non-alcoholic cocktails such as the Zero Mojito, Zero Strawberry Daiquiri, Zero Margarita, and Zero Pornstar Martini.

Image: De Kuyper Zero, four classic cocktails without alcohol

- We have invested significantly in marketing activities to increase consumer awareness of these non-alcoholic variants. We also promoted low ABV serves such as the Fizzy Peachtree and low ABV serves with De Kuyper variations liqueurs.

We are committed to improving the well-being and health of our employees. We promote healthy lifestyles and sustainable employability through a variety of programs, including professional development training, support for sports activities, assistance with quitting smoking, and the provision of fruit in the workplace.

We want to have a positive impact on society, our stakeholders, and the communities in which we operate. To this end, we support various organizations and initiatives:

- De Kuyper is a certificate holder of the Social Work Pact, an initiative of Stroomopwaarts.

- De Kuyper is a proud sponsor of various organizations and initiatives in Schiedam, including the Schiedam Community Fund, the Canal Boats (Whisper Boats), the Suikerzoet Film Festival, and the Genever Museum.

Partnership with ecoSPIRITS:

What motivated De Kuyper Royal Distillers to enter into a partnership with ecoSPIRITS for the Benelux region?

De Kuyper has demonstrated a strong commitment to social and environmental activities with sustainability projects underway throughout the value chain in areas such as responsible consumption, responsible sourcing, sustainable production, employee well-being, and community involvement. In each of these areas, De Kuyper strives to implement sustainable and innovative solutions and collaborates with partners and stakeholders.

Image: Partnership with EcoSpirits

How does this collaboration align with De Kuyper's sustainability goals and commitment to reducing environmental impact?

EcoSPIRITS aligns perfectly with the ambitions of De Kuyper, striving to implement sustainable and innovative solutions and to collaborate with partners and stakeholders.  By establishing this partnership, De Kuyper can promote an innovative closed-loop distribution system that eliminates packaging waste and reduces carbon emissions.

Can you explain how ecoSPIRITS' circular packaging technology works and how it contributes to reducing packaging waste and carbon emissions in the spirits industry?

ecoSPIRITS’ circular packaging technology allows spirits and wine to be transported in bulk to local markets where they are processed into a reusable ecoTOTE format for delivery to bars. The ecoTOTE is a fully reusable 4.5L packaging format, which replaces a standard six-bottle case of spirits, offering venues an average of 95% less physical glass and cardboard waste.

In each region where ecoSPIRITS has launched, closed-loop spirits are processed and deployed from an ecoPLANT. The ecoPLANT provides closed-loop service for a geographic area by cleaning, sanitizing, refilling, and sealing ecoTOTEs. They comply with leading standards for food grade processing and deliver high standards of spirits and wine hygiene and preservation. For the launch of ecoSPIRITS Benelux, De Kuyper’s Team Products plant in Middelharnis was identified as the ideal location for ecoPLANT No.045, because it is well regarded as a ‘best practice’ production location and is centrally located to service the Benelux region. De Kuyper’s production site in Middelharnis has recently extended its qualifications to include the BRC 9 AA audit, which is the highest level of BRC qualification.

How does the implementation of ecoPLANT No.045 at the Team Products plant align with De Kuyper's commitment to sustainability?

This innovative low-carbon and low-waste distribution technology takes us a decisive step further towards achieving our sustainability goals as one of the industry’s main drivers. In collaboration with ecoSPIRITS, we will make a significant difference by reducing our eco-footprint and inspiring other brands and customers to join us on our sustainable journey.

Image: De Kuyper Royal Distillers - De Kuyper has been distilling for more than 325 years and has created many spirits and liqueur brands.

Product Launch in ecoTOTE Format:

Among the first brands to go into ecoTOTE format are Peachtree, Rutte 100% Grain Vodka, Rutte Dutch Dry Gin, and De Kuyper Triple Sec. What led to the selection of these specific products for the ecoTOTE format?

Among the first brands to go into ecoTOTE format from the De Kuyper portfolio of brands will be Peachtree, the best-selling peach liqueur in the world. The lighter, lower-proof liqueur, which has the taste and smell of ripe peaches, is a key ingredient in cocktails such as Sex on the Beach or the Fizzy Peachtree. Also launching soon in ecoTOTE format is Rutte 100% Grain Vodka and Rutte Dutch Dry Gin, which is distilled from 100% organic botanicals including celery and angelica. Completing the launch collection is De Kuyper Triple Sec, which can be mixed with tequila to create the popular Margarita cocktail, or with cognac to create the Sidecar. This Triple Sec is made by mixing several citrus distillates, which are made by De Kuyper in copper pot stills.

We chose these Brands and products as they are the biggest within the Benelux market in the On-Trade, and therefore suitable for bigger size packaging such as the ecoTOTES. With 2 popular liqueurs and vodka and gin, we cover a good part of the cocktails on the menu. Also, these products are used a lot for cocktails and mixed drinks, where ecoTOTES are often used back of the bar to pre-batch these cocktails for high-traffic moments and to help bartenders make fast and consistent quality drinks.

CEO Transition:

With the upcoming retirement of Mark de Witte, can you reflect on his significant contributions to De Kuyper during his nine-year tenure as CEO?

Under de Witte’s leadership, De Kuyper has made great strides toward its ambition to become the globally recognized go-to company for cocktails and one of the main innovation drivers in the cocktail industry. De Kuyper has nearly tripled its turnover during this period. Being awarded "Liqueur Producer of the Year" at the prestigious

International Spirits Challenge (ISC) five times in a row (2019-2023) is a clear sign that De Kuyper’s vision to "Own the Cocktail" has given a good orientation on this path.

How does the appointment of Leo Evers as the new CEO align with the company's vision and growth strategies?

Leo Evers’ wealth of experience and strategic vision will contribute significantly to our continued success. He brings a strong affinity with the industry, a fantastic drive, and energy, a good understanding and experience of a family-owned context, proven strategic abilities, and a personality and leadership style that fits seamlessly.

Ready to Serve Cocktails:

De Kuyper recently launched six Ready to Serve Cocktails. What was the inspiration behind introducing this new product line, and how does it align with the company's vision to "Own the Cocktail"?

We want to democratize cocktails and offer everybody the chance to enjoy their favorite cocktail at any time. According to our guiding thought, we’ve introduced several innovations in the last years like De Kuyper Fizzy RTD, De Kuyper Zero, and De Kuyper Batched Cocktails. Our new RTS Cocktails are the perfect addition to our cocktail proposition and vision to “Own the Cocktail”.

Image: De Kuyper Ready to Serve Cocktails

Since 2020 home consumption of cocktails has seen double-digit growth. More and more consumers know an Espresso Martini or Cosmopolitan and how to mix it. But many cocktail lovers still don’t always have the time and tools to create the drinks at home themselves. De Kuyper RTS Cocktails are the perfect solution as they save time, lead to no mess, require no separate shopping, and are easy to prepare.

Global Expansion:

De Kuyper operates in over 100 countries. How does the company approach global expansion, and are there specific markets or regions that are currently a focus for growth?

We look at Brand-market combinations, so where our expansion and growth are coming from, can differ per Brand. For instance, Asia is an interesting growth market for some of our Brands, especially On-premise. Where at-home cocktail making is getting bigger in European countries.

How does participating in global competitions, such as the London Spirits Competition, contribute to the company's reputation and growth strategies?

For our company and Brands, quality, and taste is very important. Participating in competitions, and benchmarking us to the rest of the category, is one of the triggers that keeps us focused on these important elements. Being awarded at global competitions such as the London Spirits Competition, which is in the industry very well recognized as an independent and professional competition, makes us proud and reinforces the credibility of our Brands and products.

Future Vision and Goals:

Looking ahead, what are De Kuyper Royal Distillers' key goals and aspirations in terms of sustainability, product innovation, and market presence?

Within our vision to ‘Own the Cocktail’, we will continue to ‘Democratize the cocktail’, meaning creating great tasting cocktail solutions for everyone, at every occasion and every location. Innovation is a key pillar in this: we will further roll out our successful innovations such as Batched, Ready-to-Serve, and Zero 0% cocktails. Sustainability is an integral element of our overall business approach. For instance from packaging solutions to product ingredients and No and Low alcohol beverages.

How will the company continue to evolve and stay at the forefront of the spirits industry in the coming years?

So far, our close to 330 years of heritage, together with our entrepreneurship and passion for craftmanship have brought us where we are today. I am confident that these foundations, together with our great Brands and love for cocktails, will help us stay relevant, innovate with agility, and excite and inspire the cocktail industry.



As De Kuyper Royal Distillers charts its course toward a sustainable future, the interplay of heritage, innovation, and environmental consciousness becomes evident. From eliminating packaging waste through ecoSPIRITS collaborations to democratizing the art of cocktail making with Ready to Serve offerings, De Kuyper stands at the forefront of an industry in transformation. As the company bids farewell to one era with the retirement of Mark de Witte and welcomes another under the leadership of Leo Evers, the essence of a brand that has 'Owned the Cocktail' for centuries continues to evolve, promising a future where every sip tells a story of tradition, sustainability, and the joy of shared moments.

In conversation with Malvika Patel, Editor and VP, Beverage Trade Network

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