• Enter Now


Victor Benito on Crafting for the French Palate


Training 3000+ people about spirits and technology, Crafting 200 + Quality Spirits and Victor’s Global Expedition are just some of the highlights of this article

Photo for: Victor Benito on Crafting for the French Palate

Victor De Benito has been working in distilling and blending spirits for the past 10 years, some of which are distributed in France including Mombasa Gin, Fords Gin, Mezan Rum, Grey Goose, and more.

He joined the East Side Distillery at its inception, to design the factory, and create the portfolio of brands. Following the roots of the founders’ family which is a mixed of Japanese and Indian, their brands are currently being both distilled and distributed in India and Japan. 

Could you please introduce yourself for our audience and describe your distilling journey so far?

My name is Victor De Benito, and I am currently employed as Head Distiller and Global Ambassador with East Side Distillery. I have been involved in distilling, blending and bottling spirits since 2013, for more than 200 brands available worldwide.

What does your day-to-day look like as a manager, distiller and brand ambassador? Explain the differences between those 3 roles and how you balance them.

I have been working in managerial positions since 2017. I currently coach and supervise a team of Production Managers who handle distillery operations: distilling, blending and bottling. As Head Distiller I do all development of new liquids and upscale to commercial production, flavour science, sourcing of wood casks. I supervise all distillations and blends so the liquids meet our quality standards, in line with European regulations.

On the Brand Ambassador side, I meet several clients every week. These are usually top bars, restaurants and hotels across India. Furthermore, I enjoy sharing knowledge and I execute masterclasses for consumers. In my 2 years with East Side Distillery I have trained more than 3000 individuals in 5 different countries!

You weren't always part of the beverage industry. What was the turning point that changed your career around?

My academic background is in Agricultural Engineering and it seemed natural to enter the wide food and drinks industry. However, in my first job I worked creating robots for Samsung electronics so they could be patented into actual house appliances. The turning point came when I was offered a position at the largest gin distillery in London, UK. It was exciting and it opened the doors of the alcohol industry to me.

What role does beverage education have in your life and how did courses like WSET help with your knowledge, experience and confidence?

My role of Global Brand Ambassador involves teaching people. After completing 2 courses in Spirits and in Wines with the WSET school I became a certified WSET educator. The WSET approach to teaching has given me a solid knowledge in making and tasting of different categories of wines and spirits, and teaching others how to judge quality of an alcoholic liquid in a glass. 

How did you land a distilling job with an Indian company, after spending most of your experiences around Europe? How did you adjust to the cultural expectations, palates and preferences of a different continent?

I had been living in Europe most of my life, with spells in North America in my adolescence. After 8 years working in London I wanted a change somewhere far and different. I reached out to industry contacts and after several months, one of them told me that a new Indo-Japanese business wanted a Head Distiller. After 3 interviews both sides were happy with each other, and I accepted their employment offer.

What is a big part of your career bucket list that you are excited about?

I am keen to start exporting our spirits to Europe: Doja gin, Portal gin and Nomad rum. We are currently looking for importers in Europe, including in France.

What are some of the new technology/innovations in the beverage industry that you have incorporated in your practice in the last few years?

We used to work with John Dore stainless steel stills in Europe and when I moved to India, I started working with a Holstein copper still. Copper gives the final spirit a smooth mouthfeel.

Picture: Holstein Still, taken from Do-Ja Gin’s Instagram

What is one of the key lessons one can take away from your training programmes for brands? 

When I studied my engineering degree, I sometimes struggled with information from professors that was difficult to understand. At the time I created my own notes that explained some difficult subjects in plain language with easy explanations and drawings and I started teaching some of my classmates. This became popular and in 1 year I saw copies of my class notes circulating among students of different classes on campus.

Thanks to my university experience I make my spirits training programmes dynamic and suitable to all levels of knowledge. I use analogies and drawings to transform scientific concepts into accessible information.

Could you describe in brief the steps a brand should follow to make a quality spirit that is best suited for the French bars and supermarkets?

I used to live France, namely in Marseille and Nice, and I have had a chance to taste some of the main spirits consumed in France. French consumers enjoy high quality spirits and are open to spend extra on spirits that deliver a smooth mouthfeel. Rum is one the most consumed spirits in France, and to make a style that goes well with French preferences the rum should have a smooth body, notes of tropical fruits, spices and a well thought-through marketing approach!

Of the East Side Distillery products, which one is your favourite?

I love Doja gin. It has the unique story of being half Japanese and half Indian and the flavour has a long aftertaste and high complexity.

Interviewed by Stuti Khetan, Beverage Trade Network

Give international exposure to your spirits brand. Enter your spirits before 30 April 2025 and Save.