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How to Drink ISH Spirits with Morten Lee Sørenson

How to Drink ISH SPiRITS with Morten Lee Sørenson

Before our guest launched his first non-alcoholic spirit, his mission was to make it easy to be a mindful drinker. Now 6 years later, thanks to his hard work, it is definitely getting easier to be a mindful drinker!

Morten Lee Sorenson gave up drinking alcohol for 100 days. He found that it wasn’t difficult not drinking alcohol, but it was quite difficult finding good alternatives. At that moment, he decided he was going to create products that made it a whole lot easier to be a mindful drinker and ISH was born.

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Cocktail of the Week: Mindful Margarita

Mindful Margarita
The perfect alcohol-free Margarita recipe using ISH agave spirit for those who looking to drink mindfully!
Check out this recipe
Mindful Margarita

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Morten. Just remember that I own the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of Lush Life podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as my right of publicity. So if you want to use any of this, please email me!

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Susan: It’s really great to have you on the show and I’m so excited. It was great to meet you in London and can’t wait to hear more about ISH and how it came to be. So as we always start on Lush Life with someone’s upbringing and background, I’d love to know where you came from.

Morten: So my name is Morton Sorenson. I’m the founder of ISH. It was a pleasure to meet you as well, Susan, and thank you so much for having me on the show. I’m from Copenhagen, Denmark originally. As the founder of ISH. I travel a lot around the world promoting mindful drinking and of course the ISH brand.

Susan: You said you grew up in Copenhagen. Did you spend your whole upbringing there or did you move anywhere else?

Morten: I actually grew up in Spain from when I was five until I was 11 years old, in the southern part of Spain. So I’ve been used to traveling since a young age and then coming back as an early teenager to Copenhagen. That’s where I grew up in those years. And since then I lived in California. I lived in a little bit in Cape Town and just been traveling around the world.

Susan: And having, well, being from Denmark and then growing up in Spain, what do you think you have from both of those countries, what do you think that you hold inside of you from those?

Morten: I think the experience, first and foremost, of being in a foreign country gives a lot of perspective. The fact of being able to be a global citizen is something that I treasure a lot and I enjoy the different cultures around the world. The funny thing is, one thing that I’ve learned since starting ISH, is that drinking is the common denominator.

 The celebration of making a toast and cheers and so on is something we all treasure and something that makes us meet new people and enjoy new relationships. So, there’s a lot of common denominators; that’s one of them. And growing up in a different country, I feel like I have a good perspective.

Susan: So now, right before you started ISH, what were you doing and how did ISH come out of that?

Morten: I grew up in the creative world of Copenhagen. When I was 17 years old, I started working in the creative industry, started my own agency in the early twenties. That brought me to the US in 2011 for about five years. Then as a digital nomad, from there on In 2017, I decided I’m going to skip alcohol for a hundred days because honestly, I felt it was slowing me down a little bit.

Like I mentioned earlier, traveling around, there was always a good reason to have a drink and to break bread, so to speak, with new people and old friends. I felt like the alcohol part was slowing me down, but the rest was awesome. So I wanted to take a hundred days and say, what if I don’t drink alcohol?

Can I be equally social? Can I be dating, can I be meeting new people and all that. Because usually alcohol is something that surrounds that. I decided to skip the alcohol for a hundred days and realized in that phase that it wasn’t difficult not drinking alcohol, but it was quite difficult finding alternatives.

So I always felt like I was a little bit the odd one out or was a little bit of a nuisance to the whatever venue we were at. I remember one time I was at a restaurant and everybody was drinking a Dark and Stormy. And I love a Dark and Stormy, but I wasn’t consuming alcohol. So the waitress come back with an apple juice and ginger beer as a kind of a mocktail or whatever.

Yeah. And I was like, thanks for trying, I appreciate that. Of course I drank it and it was fine. She did the best she had to work with. And the problem was she didn’t have a non-alcoholic rum to put in. So I decided I’m going to create a brand. I’m going to create products that makes it easy to be a mindful drinker.

And that was the whole inception and the aha moment of ISH. I want to create a brand and a product that makes it easy to be a mindful drinker. When you think about that, it’s like we make it easy to be a mindful drinker, especially now there’s more and more people that has the desire and the wish.

It’s actually lower alcohol a little bit, right? And if we ask the same people, do you want to work out more? Do we want to eat healthy and all that? A lot of people would say yes. Our job as a brand and as a product is to build that bridge from the good intention to action. If we can do that by being on the menu with our non alcs, by being on the shelves, by being at the birthday parties and the weddings, all those individuals that have the desire to lower a little bit, we make it easy for them to do so, and that’s our contribution.

Susan: I totally agree. I mean, I know that when I go out someplace, I don’t always want to have two alcoholic cocktails in a row, or if I do, I don’t want to have a third. And it’s great now to have an option because there are things like ISH.

Now when you say after those, or during those a hundred days that this the ISH idea came to you. Were you in a place in your life where you thought, I want to start a business and this is the business that I want to start?

Morten: No, not at all. I had a business that was doing well. I was having the best time of my life. I was driving around the world. I was working on creative jobs and clients and just being a very free spirit, in that regard and just doing my thing. So I had no intention of wanting to start a business but working on so many brands in those many years working on creating solutions for problems, designing that, communi, communicating it and all that.

It was somehow a natural step for me to just be like, I can do this. I need, obviously, help on a lot of different parameters, but I can do this, so why don’t I just go ahead and do it. So it felt natural to me to create a brand and a product because that was kind of in my DNA.

Susan: I got it. Especially if you’ve been doing it since you’re 17 years old, that’s really young to start on your own and be successful.

Morten: Yeah, well, when I was 17, most of my jobs was creating coffee for the creatives, for a little bit. So it wasn’t until my early twenties that I started my own agency, like around like 18, 19 probably. I was an art director assistant at the agency, and then from there with a good friend of mine Erin, who’s American, we started, she was in Copenhagen, Suite Creative, which was that design agency, and then we just rock and roll from there. So, yeah, it was natural for me to kind of extend into creating my own brand.

Susan: Obviously you have an entrepreneurial spirit, that’s for sure. So you have this idea and you’re thinking about mindful drinking. You’ve done your hundred days. Can you tell me the first steps to creating ISH? What was your first idea and how did you make that happen?

Morten: So I wanted to create spirits, and I wanted to create spirits that could be mixed into cocktails. So the first two that we started with was a gin and a rum. I wanted to create those because there was something to hold onto, so to speak. Like we couldn’t create a vodka because there’s not a lot of flavor in vodka, and that means that, basically you’ll have water.

So when you have gin and the rum, there’s a lot of flavors in there that we can use to recreate. So for example, in our gin, we use juniper berries, coriander seeds, bitter orange. We use like the shells of the chilies to give it some spice and warmth that you kind of usually get from alcohol. So it kind of burns and warms a little bit.

You take this and you have a dry botanical liquid. That also has some heat. So when you make this with a tonic, for example, you have a one-to-one gin tonic. It’s just without alcohol. Our rum, for example, is created with de-alcoholized rum that we source from the Caribbean, from Martinique and Jamaica, vanilla from the Salva region, nutmeg from Indonesia.  We use again the shells of the seeds of chilies, like baked apple.

So I wanted to create something that was natural, something that tasted right. So you gotta like a gin and a rum if you like them. Some people don’t like gin and they won’t enjoy our gin because it’s a one to one analog.

So, we could start with those, and I say we, because I was a one man band, but I got a lot of help from a lot of sources. We created those first two liquids as an initial start. And I said to the people that were helping me on the liquid side, I have three pillars, three things that have to be right. If these, these are not right, we’ll just kind of shut down the project.

There’s no harm, no foul. I have another business, fine, this is not end all, be all. And those three things was, it has to taste, right, so that means authentic. It has to be if you’re mixing a drink and you’re drinking a Dark and Stormy. Are you like, “Is this without alcohol, are you sure?” That was what I wanted on the taste. I wanted it to be natural ingredients all the way through. So everything made from plants and spices and fruits and so on.

Then lastly, I wanted it to be satisfying. And that’s what I was missing is that I wanted to create a satisfying element. Because there were a few brands out there at that point, and I was missing the satisfying element of the satisfying part where it goes up in your brain and it tells you are having a cocktail.

Then the serotonin and dopamine start dancing and be like, this is what I’m used to, this is this this is a placebo effect that I’m experiencing right now. That was a satisfying element that I wanted as well. So those three things to make sure that we had a liquid that we could be proud of and put out there is what we created. And then boom, went to market and then was rock and roll from there.

Susan: But that must have been the hardest part to get that to be satisfying. To get the ingredients pretty easy. We can get things from around the world. All of the other things natural, et cetera. How do you feel, I don’t know if you want to give away trade secrets, but how do you feel? Or just tell us how much you, as much as you can how did you get that?

Was it using natural ingredients? Was it something proprietary? , give us a clue into that.

Morten: So we’re first, we’re very, of course, very open in how we do and create our products. We feel that it’s our responsibility to tell the consumer what they’re drinking and what they’re enjoying. So we’re very, very open with what we’ve done.

We can see that our techniques have been reused quite a bit in the category because it really gives a level up. So our little trade secret so to speak, which not much of a secret, is the shell of the seeds of chilies. So it’s the active ingredient in the chili. And if you take a chili, and you take a bite off a chili, it’s going to have some sweetness.

It’s going to have a little burn and keeps going. We didn’t want that. So we wanted something where it actually goes in, creates warmth, and then disappears. That’s what alcohol does. Alcohol goes in. It gives a little bit of a burn. The funny thing is what alcohol is that it actually warms and cools at the same time.

So it’s a very interesting molecule. It’s only one molecule, which it makes it really difficult to create an analog for. But we are putting the shells of the seeds of chilies and distilling on those to create some warmth. Those ones, it actually gives a little bit of a lift so that together with the other ingredients that we use, it adds a little bit of volatility.

Volatility is important when we speak alcohol because what happens with alcohol is it evaporates. So imagine evaporation with a million molecules on it. You get this poof sensation where you can taste and carry all those flavors where you’re like, “oh,” If it’s wine, it’s leather and forest floor, and all these things that you taste because you’re getting this evaporation.

With non-alcohol, we don’t have the evaporation, but we still need to create mouth feel and lift and warmth and all of that. And the chili component is a big element in that to be able to create that and then adding in different all these botanical elements and so on. We’re able to create this sensation of the alcohol when it’s understood by the brain. That said, if you take our non-alcoholic rum and alcoholic rum, one to one, you’re not going to be fooled.

Like there, there’s a big difference because they’re not intended to be had neat, but if you mix a ginger beer in there, that kind of disappears. So that’s the science behind it because with that, having a full on cocktail, you get that full cocktail experience.  You get the rum flavor and the rum lift and the viscosity and so forth. So there’s a little bit of science behind there.

Also a big job for u is educating our consumers because we want to make sure that we have the spirit that if you mix them, right? If you do that is a one-to-one you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Susan: It’s incredible. Really, really incredible. And how long did it take you from your idea sitting there? From I want a good Dark and Stormy to actually making the perfect Dark and Stormy, non-alcoholic Dark and Stormy that you were looking for.

Morten: It took a little over a year. It was October 17 that kind of instigated the idea and October, November 18 was the first trial run that we did on the products and did like 5,000 of each bottles. And it was so exciting. And yeah, it was amazing and obviously did a lot of renditions prior to that.

But the real interesting thing is that we didn’t stop there. So obviously we added more products to the portfolio. The gin and the rum we kept reiterating it. When we put it out, we would get we would get good comments and we’ll get bad comments.

So, we’ll take all those bad comments, be like, okay, how, what can we do better? We could get more mouthfeel, more juniper, more this, more that. So we just kept getting that. And right now we just launched our third generation of our gin and our rum. So we keep, and there’ll be a fourth and a fifth and a sixth.

And the goal is to get to a point where you can have a sip of our rum and a Diplomatico and you’re kind of like, I’m not sure which one is alcohol free. That’s the goal. And so we really reach for the stars on that one, but, and maybe we’ll hit the moon, but it’s a good goal to have and that’s why we keep thriving to just up the liquid and make it better, better, better.

Susan: I think you’ve just created a new category of vintage non-alcoholic spirits, right?

And soon people will be…

Morten: They’ll be collector items!!

Susan: I know people will be asking for, can I have that 2017 ISH, please? Dark and stormy. And that can go for £200 quid on a menu. I love it.

Morten: It’s on my shelf at the office. I saved the first two bottles of the rum and the gin. So they’re in the office headquarters in Denmark. And they’re still standing there nice and pretty, as a little reminder.

Susan: Well, I’m sure you should keep every first bottle of every iteration. And then one day have a big party and be like, okay, these are the 10, we’re stopping here, or the hundredth or the moon. Right. Now after, so you had those and was it when you took them to market, were people like, oh yes, this is great, exactly what we’re looking for? Or did you have a really, or did you have a hard time trying to sell people on the non-alcoholic?

Morten: There was people that were, wow, non-alcoholic gin. I need to try this. This is amazing, give it to me, let’s try! Then there was people that would be like, what are you doing? Why are you doing this? And almost got mad at me.

So I’ve had the full spectrum and it was quite interesting. I saw very much this almost like an anthropology study, because it was interesting to see different audience, see female versus male age groups and so on. It was very evident that the female audience, early thirties, late twenties, they were very intrigued, but men in their sixties were like, no, don’t mess with my alcohol. I was like, ok, okay, but a lot has changed over the years.

It’s incredible the evolvement of the category and the evolution that it’s very, very rare that I’ll hear anybody be like maybe they’ll be funny, that’s fine. But it’s like over the last four years, it’s been so de-stigmatized, people understand and people want to try.

People are curious and I think it’s the power of volume. It’s the power of that. There are so many great non-alcoholic brands out there now that are doing all functional or analogs like we’re doing or their own liquids, beer especially has paved the road quite a bit.

It’s amazing now, anywhere, basically in the world that I try will be like, oh yeah, there’s more and more non-alcoholic, definitely want to, then they try. A lot has happened over those four years.

But initially there were crossed arms, there were people that thought it was weird and what was the point. Whenwe drink, we want to get drunk, so what’s the point? It wasn’t until we started educating that there’s actually something called inclusivity. So we still want to do all that. But maybe you have a wedding, maybe you have guests that are pregnant that are driving there, just not drinking alcohol.

And the more that kind of became, oh. Actually that makes sense. I do want to be a good host. Maybe I should get a couple of bottles of alcohol-free bubbly for the wedding or whatever, because I’m a good host then. So there was all kinds of different reasons why people accepted the category and the fact that then when they try it and they get a good experience, That’s the real acceptance.

That’s what we’re seeing. That’s how we’re able to grow our business, the way that we’re doing about being more of a global business, is through the flavors. That’s how we get judged. that’s how we get accepted. And that’s our way into any retailer, to any bar menu, and so forth. That’s the best we can do for the categories, creating amazing liquids.

Susan: Yeah. Two things off of that. I think that any bar now, anywhere in the world, is remiss if they do not have a large selection of non-alcoholic cocktails for their guests and also, I mean, by creating special cocktails with this wonderful liquid that people are producing. People who don’t drink, they don’t just want an orange juice or a coke or a soda, and this gives them a whole new range of everything. So you had the wonderful rum, the gin. What was your next venture?

Morten: So then we added on wines. We wanted to create a range of non-alcoholic wines that suited that occasion. Again our mission is to make it easy to be a mindful drinker. That’s what we work for every day. So we needed enough range, and at a high level, the liquid to be able to really suit any occasion.

And they’re wonderful. They work as a great non-alcoholic or a great sparkling wine, sparkling white and sparkling rosé, and they’re just a crowd pleaser. We have a very good return customer rate on our online site, about 80% of people come back for the wines every time they order.

It tastes really good! We found a technique to be able to dealcoholize very gently. So instead of cooking off the alcohol or burning off the alcohol, which can make the grapes a little jammy because you gotta add a lot of sugar to bring back flavor and again, that viscosity and mouth feel.

So here we didn’t have to do that because we used really good grapes like Pinot Blanc and Selvana grapes and Pinot Noir and Merlot grapes in the rosé. So we were able to use high end grapes, fully ferment the grapes, get all the flavor of the grapes, then dealcoholize it very gently, with low temperatures to get it down to 0%.

Then basically we’ve removed the one molecule of ethanol. That’s what we do, and by doing that we’re left with a really good tasting wine, that then when you add in the carbonation, you bring in that volatility part that we talked about before. So then now you have all the great flavors of the grapes.

You add volatility through the carbonation, which is, it’s not like a soft drink carbonation, it’s more of a foamy carbonation. So it’s very fine bubbles. So when you pour a glass of champagne, you get like the nice foam and then you drink it and it kind of foams up a little bit. That’s what we’re able to recreate in our sparklings, and it just, yeah, it’s just the crowd pleaser and it works really, really well.

Susan: And did you find that was a more difficult process than doing the spirits or easier?

Morten: Actually easier to be honest because we we’re not creating a recipe here. We’re actually just using the grapes. And then as long as we get the right dealcoholization, and it’s not that dealcoholization is not ours, it’s not a proprietary process that we own by any means. But the carbonation was really important.

So we had a lot of involvement in that and, doing those combinations, working with some really excellent partners on that made it happen. So that was actually the easier, what’s very difficult is the still wines that we’re working on now, because there we’re missing the volatility from the carbonation.

So those were working very hard on and we’ve been working for about almost two years now on a still white wine.  That we launched in Europe, like 5,000 bottles all just online, basically out to our audience online and now receiving feedback on that. And then the second generation of that will be an elevated version of the first one.

But here we’re doing a lot of science. We’re doing a lot of things like, kind of like combining the sparkling wines with the dealcoholization and the grapes and doing all that, but some of the techniques from the spirits by adding in A recipe of like oakwood and Mirabel and kind of different stuff that lifts it and gives it.

Again, mouth feel and lift. So that’s kind of the science that we’re working on right now. That’s the big challenge is still wines, to create a good wine experience there.

Susan: From a creative to a scientist, you’ve become, you realize that!

Morten: Fortunately, we have a full, in-house team that helps on the science part, and I’m not the only one. So I’m privileged

Susan: No, no, I’m sure a lot of it is you. It wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for you. Now, did you do them together, both the rosé and the white together? They came out the same time.

Morten: Yes, yes. They came out the same time. And what we’re doing right now, we’re going through a little shift in our design label/

Susan: Oh, because is it still called Chateau Del ISH?

Morten: Still called that!

Susan: Chateau Del’ISH!

Morten: We just wanted to kind of give it a little bit of lift and make it a little bit fancier, in this design.

Susan: I love that name. It’s a great name.

Morten: Thank you. I’ll take credit for that one. In my head it was short for Chateau Delicious. And I thought that was kind of funny and trying to be funny. But I don’t know how many picked up on it. I enjoyed that very much and it goes back to my roots. Like I love the creation process of a new product, of a new design, of a new label, and just going through that whole process of testing and adjusting and then putting it out, which is always exciting because it’s going to be received in some way.

That’s how we do limited launches. And then we’ll get feedback and then we’ll make it even better. Because again, our goal is to reach as many people as possible and make it easy to be a mindful drinker. So it’s not about what we like and how we want to do, it’s about what the masses want and try to create the best experiences for them as we possibly can.

Susan: Which you obviously are doing because I do know that you are in some of the best restaurants in the world, so do give us a little taste of how you got into, some of them and what the restaurants are.

Morten: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for bringing that up. Our first account in the US was actually 11 Madison Park, three starred Michelin restaurant in New York.

Susan: Crazy, one of the best restaurants in the world.

Morten: Yes exactly. So they contacted us basically, and I think because we’re one of the first movers in this category, they’re with brands before us when we started, but we were one of the first, kind of old schoolers of the category. So I think what they did, is that they just kind of looked at the few handful of brands that were around at that time.

Then they did samplings, and then they just tried. So we did an online sampling with them. Because we were in Copenhagen, with the team there. They tried it out and they enjoyed it. They tried a bunch of stuff, I presume, and then they decided to put us on the menu, which was interesting because we were in Denmark.

They were in New York, and they’re like, I think it was on a Tuesday. And there, so we need it on the menu by Friday, can you ship us some cases? And we’re like, of course. And then getting the supply chain and making sure we get it overnighted with a plane and so on, which succeeded.

We’ve been on the menu ever since and we’ve been there for a couple years I think, so that’s one of them. Another one is a great one is in Copenhagen called Alchemist, which is a two Michelin star restaurant. Very, very amazing experience. If anybody has the chance to go to Copenhagen and get a reservation at Alchemist, it’s incredible.

You have 50 experiences at the restaurant. One of them is our non-alcoholic tequila, made as a Pandon Margarita cocktail. And they put that on the menu. They’re very innovative, in the way that they do things, so we’re very proud to be there and we love having that acceptance from the category and the industry.

It means a lot to us, but to be honest with you, our main audience is actually way broader, so it’s great to be there, but it’s really, really nice for us when we go out wider, because we know it will make it easier again for more people to enjoy non-alcoholic beverages.

Susan: Right. And not everyone is lucky enough to be able to go to one of those restaurants. And, you want it to be in everyone’s house. Now you subtly brought up your tequila. So when did you decide to go back into spirits and then do a tequila?

Morten: Yeah, we did it, So we were seeing really good momentum in the US, we’ve been seeing that over the last couple years and we know that tequila in the US, I think it’s the second largest spirit now. I think it just surpassed whiskey actually if I’m not mistaken.

But it was number three for a long time. I think it’s actually number two now after vodka.

It’s growing quite so much in the US with tequila, so we thought we need to make a good non-alcoholic tequila because there are a lot of tequila drinkers out there, obviously, and we’re seeing the tequila trend in the rest of the markets that we’re in.

So we have to create a good non-alcoholic tequila. If we don’t, then what are mindful drinker’s going to do if they want Margaritas and Palomas, right? So we decided to do that

and then we launched it. In May 2022 in New York, we did a big event at Soho House in New York, in Dumbo. We did a great event with Boisson, which is a phenomenal non-alcoholic, store in the US.

They have about 10 locations now, East and West Coast and growing. Great partner of ours. So we partner with them to launch it in the West Village of New York on the street. Just serving margaritas, which you don’t see very often because you obviously are not allowed to drink alcohol on the street. So we’re basically just there music and bartenders and having a block party, but non-alcoholic.

So we didn’t need any brown paper bags or anything. Cops were fine  so we weren’t breaking any law and we’re just having a party on the, of course, Cinco de Mayo in 2022.

Susan: That’s, that’s fabulous. Now, there’s one other thing which are your canned cocktails. So, there’s a Daiquiri, a Mojito, a Gin and Tonic, and a Spritz.  When did you start those? And then tell me about the Spritz, because with the other ones, you already had the gin and the Gin-ish and the rum.

Morten: The cans, they’ve been dropping throughout the years and we started with them right after the wines and launched those. The main reason why we did that was to create a lower price point product. Make it easier, more accessible for consumers to dabble into trying a non-alcoholic cocktail.

Then the idea was to try this and enjoy that. And then if you want to create your own cocktail, then there’s a spirit. So it’s kind of segue into that and again, enough of a portfolio to open up any occasion really. These are perfect for parties on the rooftop or at the beach or at the park or whatever, where it’s maybe a little inconvenient to bring a bottle of rum.

That was the whole idea and the spritz especially. That was one thing we started with initially and everybody that loves an Italian spritz is going to love the spritz. We did one thing that we’re very proud of. We submitted it to an award show called The Great Taste Awards in the UK and about 14,000 products submit every year to the Great Taste Awards.

This is everything. This has nothing to do with alc or non-alc. This is everything from cupcakes to ham to whatnot, that is submitted into the Great Taste Awards. About 1.5% of the 14,000 products receive a three star rating and Spritz has received a three star rating. So we’re incredibly excited about that.

We’ve won over 40 international taste awards throughout the years, but this one especially, we’re incredibly proud of because it’s all about the taste. So people, the judges get presented, this is a non-alcoholic spritz try it, and it was just knocked it out of the park.

So that was quite exciting and again, made from natural ingredients, gentian root, cassia bark, a little bit of quinine for the bitterness side. Then we use Italian citrus – tangerines, lemons, oranges to create that kind of freshness from the citrus and of course sourced from Italy.

With all that put together, we get a complex herbaciousness with some freshness. So it’s just a perfect summer drink that in a big balloon glass with ice and an orange slice. And you’re going to have you can drink spritz all day.

Susan: Oh, I know I’ve had one. It is fantastic. And you would never know.

Morten: Well, you’re going to be excited, Susan, because we’re bringing back our big bottle of the spritz. So we did that I think a year ago, last summer or something. I can’t remember. Yeah, it was the year before last summer, because then we put that out the spritz is in a 75 CL bottle.

And it was just a hit over the summer, and we’re like, that’s great. And the intention was to keep it all year and then the next year we didn’t do it for the summer because we have the cans and stuff and we’re producing new products.

So we didn’t really do our homework and our data well enough, to be honest. We took it off. We’re like, oh, nobody’s going to miss that. And then we just got completely swamped, like, where is the spritz?  We’re like, we have the can. They were like, we want the big bottle that we can so we’re bringing it back this summer, but we’re doing it as a limited edition, so we’re going to do that every summer. So we’ll make sure to get some over for you. Susan.

Susan: Are you sure you didn’t do that on purpose? To create demand?

Morten: Well, well, well, my background is marketing…

Susan: Well, I know I can’t wait for it. So you have all of these things. Should I even dare to ask what’s next?

Morten: Yeah. I’m so glad you asked. So besides the still wines that we’re continuing to work on where our goal is to create an amazing red. It’s something that’s missing in the category. There are reds out there and there, they’re doing our thing.

We feel that we can bring out a red that the consumers are missing right now, and really hitting on that volume and volatility and satisfying element. So that’s kind of our specialty. So we feel like we have some responsibility in bringing out a really good red for the category. So that’s a focus point for us.

We might never be able to do it, so if you never see it’s because we just haven’t nailed it. But once you see it, we’ve nailed it, so that’s that. Then we’re working on a bourbon for our spirits, bourbon is lacking in our portfolio. We’re setting the bar very high on that.

We want to create a bourbon that you can enjoy neat. So,  again, our spirits today are designed to be mixed into cocktails. I don’t want to create a bourbon that can only be mixed into a cocktail because I feel that’s too limiting. And honestly, I don’t think you’ll create enough volume for us.

So we want to create a bourbon that you can enjoy neat. Imagine just coming home, you love your bourbon, you love the volume and the texture and the flavors of a bourbon where you just have a little bit, a nice little, low ball glass, and a big rock of ice.

You just pour this on top and just sip it and you get this sensation and fill and all of that. That is the goal, and we hope to have it ready by the end of this year, so when it starts getting a little cold again this year towards the fall and so on, we hope to have that ready.

It’s a tall order and it’s a very difficult one to create. Then we’ll probably add in a few pre-mixed cocktails on the cans, like a Margarita. We don’t want 40 new SKUs. So we have the wines sparkling and still, enough spirits to create enough cocktails and a handful of premix cocktails.

And then what we’re going to do from there is just basically continue to just develop on those and just keep elevating them, constantly, rather than putting in another 10 skews where it starts to get way too niche, so that’s kind of our target and our strategy.

Susan: Well, sounds really exciting and, as a bourbon drinker myself, I can’t wait to try that, but I want to know when that is Dark and Stormy going to come out, right?

Morten: I know, I know, and it probably will eventually, maybe it’ll be the last SKU that we ever make just to create. Full circle moment, it’s on the list for sure. So, I’ll promise you’ll be the first to know.

Susan: Of course because it wouldn’t be right if you didn’t. That was the first thing that set you going on this whole journey!

Morten: Yes. And even if we only create one can of those!

Susan: Exactly. Even for you to have at home!

Morten: Yes, exactly.

Susan: Well, this has been great. Now I always leave my guests asking two questions. The first one is, if you could give any tip for the home bartender, what would that be?

Morten: Bitters! Bitters are the salt and pepper for cocktails. One thing is being a skilled mixologist, but being a home bartender and upping that lift, a little secret is bitters.

You can get a ton of bitters and as a mindful drinker you can get non-alcoholic bitters. You can get bitters with alcohol, you can get CBD bitters, if that’s your jam. There’s a great brand called OTO, out of the UK that we worked with before we created. CPDaiqurish, for example, together with them, with a few of their bitters.

So there’s a bunch of different bitters, you can go from peach to orange to whatever. And using those in your cocktails will just be that little secret, and then people get that extra element and because you only use a few dashes, even if you use it in a non-alcoholic cocktail, the alcohol content of the cocktail will not surpass 0.5, which in total is the limit for non-alcoholic. So that would be my recommendation for the home bartender.

Susan: That’s really good to know, especially about the alcohol that goes into the bitters. Last is, if you could be anywhere drinking anything, where would that be and what would you be drinking??

Morten: It is a good question. I would be the top of, Kilimanjaro. And the reason why is that I recently got married! We actually eloped to Vegas, two and a half months ago, actually, Exactly two months ago now, we eloped, we got married in Vegas and we made it official and we had such a great time, flew in some friends and family, and we just had a wonderful time.

We still have plans of doing a big party in Copenhagen, probably in 24, but our honeymoon, we want to go to the top of Kilimanjaro. That’s part of our honeymoon. That’s always been such a northern star for me to come to the top of Kilimanjaro, have a drink with my wife and have that, feeling of really reaching and accomplishing a goal, and of course it would have to be a Dark and Stormy!

Susan: Of course, of course. Or I was going to say, one of your warm bourbon cocktails. Bourbon-ish cocktails?

Morten: Yes. Exactly. Exactly. We’ll be ready for it by that time. Exactly. So, maybe we’ll do a new cocktail recipe on a Dark and Stormy.

Susan: Exactly called the Kilimanjaro

Morten: Yes, exactly. I’m writing it down!

Susan: Well, listen, it has been such a joy to have you on the show. Thank you so much, great. That you could join me from very, very sunny California and it is freezing cold here. So hopefully we’ll see you in London soon.

Morten: Sounds good. Thank you for having me, Susan. Take care.

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