Industry heavyweights launch new distributor with Italian whiskies


Malt whisky from Italian distillery Puni is one of the first brands in the portfolio of a new sales, distribution and marketing agency set up by two industry heavyweights.

Dave Steward and Matt Mckee, who were most recently at drinks business Proximo UK, have set up Magnetic Brands to focus on premium international spirits.

Their first brand-building project will be to bring the three-strong range of whiskies from Puni, which was Italy’s first dedicated whisky distillery when it launched in 2012. The family-owned distillery is located in the German-speaking Vinschgau valley of the Alps and uses only locally grown rye.

Magnetic Brands has also taken on Vestal Vodka, the range of artisan vodkas created by Will Burrell and produced at a small family-owned distillery in Poland. Magnetic is already in the process of creating a new look for this premium vodka, accentuating its distinctive approach to ingredients and the “terroir” of the potatoes used to make it.

Dave Steward has over 25 years’ experience in the development of premium spirits both internationally and in the UK including Wyborowa vodka, Maker’s Mark whiskey, Zubrowka vodka, The Kraken rum and Sapporo beer. He has worked for Marblehead Brand Development and Pernod Ricard.

Before Proximo, Matt Mckee spent seven years at gin producer Hayman Distillers, finishing as its head of UK sales during a phenomenal period of growth. He was at Proximo for four years, most recently as managing director, and successfully managed the UK transition of several global brands from the Diageo portfolio including Cuervo and Bushmills Irish Whiskey.

Magnetic, which is based in Shoreditch in London, is also offering a bespoke consultancy service, called “M2”, targeted at spirit brands at an early stage of their development wishing to engage formally with a UK distributor.

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