The society figures behind your favourite booze brands
They say that in business one should always give the people what they want, and what they want are drinks. Specifically, alcoholic drinks – and the more the merrier. This is the essential maxim that has spawned innumerable trans-generational fortunes made through wine making, brewing and distilling pretty much anything that will pack a punch.
Family fortunes and the fate of entire nations have been shaped by the power held from controlling the supply of a popular tipple (and charging accordingly). To put it another way, if turning up to a party with a bottle makes you popular, imagine owning the company that makes it.
History is stocked full of stories of immense wealth and power being forged through the bottle, dating back centuries; from the Romans (Crassus famously owned many successful wineries) to the Kennedys (who made their fortune illegally bootlegging whisky for the Italian mob during Prohibition).
In Britain alone there are a fair few fortunes crafted from booze and one would be hard pressed to go 5 Hertford Street and not stumble across the scion of a heritage drinks brands or the heir to an ancient title, hell-bent on entering the business to secure the next generation’s income.
DDW takes a closer look at the faces behind the brands… after all – who knows, you may well end up sitting next to them at an upcoming dinner party:
George Herbert, 8th Earl of Carnarvon
The Earl has the distinction of not only being part of the British peerage and to have the Queen as his Godmother but perhaps more famously, of owning the impressive Highclere Castle – a monumental pile in Hampshire that serves as the setting for the popular Downton Abbey period drama.
Ever enterprising, the Earl has teamed up with an American company to capitalise on the show’s international success and deliver a ‘London Dry Gin’ under the television programme’s name. Using a recipe that dates back to the 1800s and botanicals grown on the estate such as juniper, lavender (inspired by the borders at Highclere’s Monks’ Garden), lime flower and orange peel – this gin may be a newcomer but its a sure to have real staying power ensuring that his son Lord Porchester (George Kenneth Oliver Molyneux Herbert) will inherit more than the (just the) Earldom.
Kirsten Grant Meikle
Her surname comes from the old Scottish word for “a great amount” – an appropriate designation for the fifth generation descendant of William Grant, who has a reported net worth of well over £3 billion. The entirely family-owned business has been making whisky since 1887 and has built up some of the world’s most recognisable Scotch brands including Glenfiddich, The Balvenie and Grant’s, Irish whiskey Tullamore D.E.W and Drambuie liqueur.
Despite her vast fortune, Kirsten herself is known to be an affable and grounded Scotswoman – she has worked her way up the company and currently holds the title of Director of Prestige; a position that allows her to directly look after fellow High Net Worth Individuals and key VIP accounts.
Nathalie & Bertrand Perrodo
The heirs apparent to an Earth-shatteringly large oil fortune (estimated at circa £5+ billion) built by their father Hubert Perrodo, a self-made former fisherman turned oil magnate, have always had a taste for the finer things. With their refined palates came a need to reshape the drinks world – Nathalie taking the helm of family wine assets in Bordeaux; Château Labégorce, Chateau Marquis d’Alesme Becker, Abbot Gorsee de Gorsee and Chateau Lebegorce Zede – and Bertrand founding the very successful 31Dover.com wine delivery service. When they aren’t skiing in Courchevel or racing in Les Mans, you can find them discretely hosting sumptuous dinner parties in Paris and London – drinking their wine, no doubt.
William & Emilia Boscawen
This energetic husband and wife team are bringing mead back in fashion to the fashionable set. Selling under the name Marourde (an ancient spelling for Mereworth, Kent, where they are based) the brand is a nod to William’s heritage in the area where his father, Viscount Falmouth, is one of the larger landowners (his Cornwall estate is even more impressive – coming in at twice the size of Prince Charles’s at a staggering 40,000 acres).
Made from honey that is fermented with water, hops and apples grown on the estate, the Boscawen’s have revolutionised one of the world’s oldest drinks (reportedly 7000 years old) for a new generation. As a bonus the drink is gluten free, has no added chemicals and has 15% fewer calories than Prosecco.
However, not content with just one product, the young couple have also introduced Mereworth Wine, Mereworth English Sparkling Wine, Beer, 7 Mile Compound Gin and 7 Mile Winter (Sloe) Gin. No wonder they are the favourite neighbour of their surrounding estates…
Lady Monika Bacardi
A controversial figure that inherited a large part of the Bacardi fortune after a 5 year marriage to heir Luis Bacardi ended with his untimely death; Monika is a society fixture of the truest sense. Based out of Monte-Carlo, she spends her time between social engagements and philanthropic endeavours with an eye to developing a fledging career as a film producer.
On-going confrontations with the other Bacardi family members (such as Bahamas-based playboy Juan Bacardi and Miami based Hilda Maria Bacardi) have not deterred her from winning the favour of many of the self-styled jet-setters across the globe.
Carl “Lucky Grey” Hirschmann
Well-known (and somewhat notorious) society figure Lucky Grey has been at the reluctant forefront of plenty of scandals and unwanted attention, but when he is amongst his friends he is known to be the centre of attention. A charismatic German heir he co-founded HEAVENSAKE alongside long-time confidant Benjamin Eymere (of L’Officiel) and (Chanel, Hermes, Dries Van Noten) designer Etienne Russo.
Disrupting the largely untouched Sake market in the West, they have dominated the category and gained considerable traction through outlandish parties around the world featuring some of the world’s biggest DJs. Celebrity endorsement abound with buddies Leo Di Caprio, Alessandra Ambrósio and ex Paris Hilton all endorsing the drink.
Alejandro Santo Domingo
As heir to the immense Santo Domingo beer fortune, Alejandro inherited a substantial part of international drinks conglomerate SABMiller and then helped merge it in 2016 with AB InBev, maker of Corona beer. The merger is now the largest beer maker on the planet and has afforded them a leading position amongst global drinks makers.
His subsequent marriage to the Duke of Wellington’s daughter, Lady Charlotte Wellesley, then sealed his place among the British upper crust. When not on their yacht or laying low in their villa in Cartagena – the young couple are making London their own with unrivalled drinks parties.
Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken
As majority owner of the world’s second largest brewer, Heineken, this Dutch business leader has shaped a great deal of how the largely old fashioned beer industry moves with the times. Driven by innovation, de Carvalho-Heineken introduced alcohol free beer alternatives to the global market and also acquired brands such as Lagunitas, Newcastle Brown Ale, Strongbow, and London craft brewer Beavertown. She has five children with her husband Olympian turned financier, Michel de Carvalho.