Based in the Gers, Laurent Sicard and Joffrey Tristan offer not only rums, but also explosive arranged Armagnacs. Bonus: they are as local, ecological and organic as possible!
Can you introduce yourself?
Laurent Sicard: Originally from the Hautes-Pyrénées and Joffrey from the Gers, we met on the benches of the Paul Sabatier biology faculty in Toulouse in 2005 and since then we have become friends. I went into medical research, followed by a spell at the Toulouse Business School, while Joffrey became a self-employed consultant after a professional degree in food safety.
How did you first get involved in the world of spirits?
Joffrey Tristan: In 2014, we decided to leave everything behind and travel together for a whole year through several countries in Asia and the Pacific. In Hong Kong and Australia, we discovered an original way of consuming spirits and cocktails: Jello Shots. Shortly after our return in 2016, we decided to launch our own brand: The Glooters.
JT: They’re jellied, encapsulated cocktails that you unmold and slurp. It’s quite fun and festive. So at that time we discovered entrepreneurship in the spirits industry by making and marketing these shooters, which was very formative for us.
So the next step was Les Arrangeurs Français?
LS: Yes, we quickly decided to develop products that were closer to the values that we have been particularly fond of since we first met: the “arrangés”. We wanted to work as much as possible with local, or at least French, raw materials that were environmentally friendly (recycled labels, no plastic…), organic and without additives.
JT: Being originally from Occitania, the Gers for my part, and having created our workshop in this beautiful department, we had the idea of launching a range of arranged armagnacs. The aim was to shake up the world of arranged Armagnacs and to modernise the consumption of Armagnac, which remained a traditional regional brandy consumed by a public of connoisseurs. We also created a range of arranged rums to have a more complete offer.
To find our first recipes, we carried out about a hundred tests with different dosages. We selected 6 references that we had tasted by wine merchants who were looking for novelties and local products. They immediately validated our project and we set to work to market our first bottles in April 2020. Today, we have 12 recipes and we have sold more than 50,000!
How do you source organic rum and Armagnac?
LS: It’s difficult because 100% of our ingredients (including alcohol) are organic and we prefer French products and as local as possible. And in the French Overseas Departments, there is no or very little organic rum because the land is saturated with chemical treatments and the creation of new plots of land is impossible due to lack of space. The few organic bottles produced are sold by the distilleries themselves.
We therefore turned to an importer who had sourced organic white molasses rum from South America, from Paraguay to be precise, a very pleasant sweet rum. As far as Armagnac is concerned, only a small handful of producers make organic. We contacted the interprofession and then we got in touch with one of them, Mr. Frédéric Blondeau, an Armagnac producer for several generations with whom we have worked since the beginning.
What about the fruits and spices that go into the composition of the products ?
JT: Here too we use seasonal, fresh and local products if possible. For example, the organic raspberry comes from a small producer around Agen. It is harvested the day before bottling for an ultra-fresh taste after maceration. Just like the fir tree buds hand-picked in Ariège or the pear conference from 82.
For exotic fruits such as ginger, pineapple and passion fruit, they don’t grow in France and in the French Overseas Departments organic fruit is rare. We are therefore obliged to source them from elsewhere in the world. But the organic standards are draconian even in foreign countries and we know that we are participating in the preservation of the quality of the soil and biodiversity as well as the good health of the farmers by having chosen to work under the organic and fair trade labels.
You also have a range of regional spirits!
JT: Yes, these are limited editions that delight curious epicureans. The Pyrenean is made with Armagnac, organic mountain honey from Ariège, and freshly picked fir buds from the same region. It is a 100% Occitan spirit. There is also the Basque with Espelette pepper and plums. Or the Provençal with yellow lemon and rosemary from the South East of France
And what about arranged rums?
LS: We have traditional exotic recipes such as passion fruit rum, pineapple / vanilla rum and lime / ginger rum, but also more pastry-like combinations such as raspberry / cocoa bean rum, mint / chocolate rum and orange / cinnamon rum. Several of these recipes have won medals in various well-known competitions in the world of spirits.
Why did you choose to leave the fruit and spices in the bottle instead of mixing them ?
JT: People who like blended rum like to see the fruit, they know what they are drinking because they can see it. There is no cheating! They can also choose to stop the maceration at 6 months, 1 year or more by filtering at home, which is impossible with arranged rum already filtered by the manufacturer. In addition, many “arrangés” drinkers have told us that they eat the macerated fruit or reuse it for other recipes or in pastries.
What is your distribution channel ?
JT: We first developed in the south-west. Today, we are distributed by more than 700 retailers throughout France and Europe. We are also present on Ankorstore, a resale platform for professionals that allows us to reach shops while keeping the link with them. Our products can only be found in specialised shops such as wine shops, delicatessens and organic shops. We also sell to individuals through our website.
Last question, you have successfully launched your own brand of arrangés, what advice would you give to those who would like to follow your example ?
JT: I would say two things: accept mistakes because mistakes are opportunities to learn. And get out of your office or your workshop to make yourself known by going directly to the wine merchants to create a link and find out what the consumers want. Resellers and customers are the ones who make us exist, and it is not on the networks that this happens but in contact with these passionate people.