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SB meets… Sebastian Krellmann, MBG

The marketing director for MBG International Premium Brands’ ‘Spirits & Filler’ portfolio tells us about the German company’s vodka brand, 9 Mile, and eyeing up the ready-­to-drink (RTD) category.

8 Mile
Sebastian Krellmann, MD for MBG International Premium Brands’ ‘Spirits & Filler’ portfolio

What does your job entail?

As marketing director, I am dedicated to the MBG Spirits & Filler portfolio, alongside my team. We are defining the comprehensive international presence of our brands across all channels and markets – a very challenging yet exciting job.

We vigilantly monitor both the customer and consumer journey, personally crafting strategic pillars for my team to execute inspiring marketing campaigns across all our brands. Our primary objective revolves around facilitating an enjoyable experience for our patrons.

What is the story behind 9 Mile Vodka?

The story behind 9 Mile Vodka is intimately linked to its namesake, Nine Mile Canyon in the United States. This canyon, known for being the site of the world’s longest rock-art gallery, is where the concept for 9 Mile Vodka was born. It pays homage to the canyon’s rich history, filled with tales of 19th-­century settlers, and aims to embody the spirit of this unique and historic location.

What differentiates it from other vodka brands?

The vodka itself is noted for its unique filtration process through marbled granite stones, a technique that contributes to its distinctive, pure taste. This connection to Nine Mile Canyon is not only a tribute to the area’s natural beauty and historical significance but also reflects the brand’s commitment.

Does the RTD category for vodka cocktails interest you?

The RTD category holds significant interest for us. Its dynamism has been consistent over the years, and it continues to exhibit promising growth potential in specific subcategories. This category facilitates the delivery of perfect signature drinks directly to consumers. Our 9 Mile Vodka & Maracuja [passion fruit] is our take on the Pornstar Martini Highball. We are developing additional flavours, making this year exciting for 9 Mile’s RTD portfolio.

Where is 9 Mile available, and in which markets does the brand have the most success?

We are progressively expanding our presence in international markets. We operate in 10 countries, and we anticipate significant growth in the upcoming months. The domestic market in Germany remains our strongest, while Austria, Albania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia are also showing commendable performances.

Where do you see high growth potential for vodka?

We are actively preparing to enter several Asian markets where we have identified high demand. Through our existing distribution network, we are witnessing strong growth in certain Eastern European markets, as well as in Italy and Spain.

Looking at the German spirits market as a whole, what are consumers loving in particular at the moment?

We are observing dynamic shifts in consumer drinking patterns, with a noticeable increase in day drinking and a preference for lighter beverages. Consequently, Highballs and apéritif drinks continue to exhibit significant dynamism. Internationally renowned cocktails, such as the Pornstar Martini and Espresso Martini, are also becoming increasingly popular in Germany. Armed with an exceptional vodka, we are well­-equipped to capitalise on these emerging trends.

What is next for 9 Mile?

In 2024, we are expanding our RTD portfolio with new flavours, and a fresh packaging design is under development. Furthermore, to enhance high-­end nightclub experiences, we are broadening our range of serving tools, and introducing larger bottles to the 9 Mile family.

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