Odds are you’ve had one of the over sixty nine De Kuyper products available in the United States but didn’t realize it. De Kuyper makes an extensive range of liqueurs and cordials which include such flavors as Sour Apple Pucker, Triple Sec, Peach Tree, Michigan Cherry, and Blue Curacao. De Kuyper has built their business on offering a low cost rainbow of flavors for bartenders to use in their drinks. In the US, the liquors and cordials are actually produced by Jim Beam in Deerfield, IL under a license from the De Kuyper family.
Like many companies, De Kuyper has seen the explosive growth of craft cocktails in the US and sees the opportunity to extend their offerings with a number of premium products designed to sit prominently on the back bar rather than hide in the well. The flagship of this premium line is Mandarine Napoleon, an orange liqueur which is decidedly different than standard triple secs or orange liqueurs.
Mandarine Napoleon began as a small, family run business out of the Distillerie de Biercée in Thuin, Belgium (right outside Brussels, Belgium) before it was purchased by the De Kuyper family. Now, production for Mandarine Napoleon is split between Belgium and The Netherlands. While most triple secs use orange peels from Curaçao, Mandarine Napoleon uses mandarin oranges that are macerated for four weeks with neutral grain spirits, and then combined with a spices like cardamon, cinnamon, angelica, clove, nutmeg, and black and green teas. It is then distilled and shipped to Schiedam where the main De Kuyper facility is located.
In Schiedam, the orange distillate and spice blend is combined with ten year old cognac and sugar, and then bottled. Mandarine Napoleon also offers an aged version of their triple sec, Mandarine Napoleon XO, which spends six years in cognac barrels and then an additional eighteen months in the bottle. “We believe Mandarine Napoleon is superior in the premium triple sec category. It’s a beautiful product with a rich history, and that’s why we bought the brand,” explains Marc De Kuyper, President at Royal Dutch Distillers (the De Kuyper family’s U.S. craft spirits division)
Mandarine Napoleon isn’t the only foray for De Kuyper in the premium space. At their distillery in Schiedam, they also produce the highly acclaimed No. 3 London Dry Gin for the Berry Bros. In 2011, De Kuyper acquired an extremely respected maker of Dutch Genever, Rutte & Zn Distillery. In addition to producing quality genever, Rutte & Zn has been an important lab for innovation for De Kuyper and the result has been unique products like their Seaweed Genever and Rutte vodka.
Recently De Kuyper made a capital investment of over half million euros to completely modernize their distillation facilities in Schiedam, giving them the capabilities of producing a wide range of new products. De Kuyper’s evolution from a value brand to premium is emblematic of the spirits industry where consumers are increasingly interested in high quality, unique products.