East Meets West: Two Spirits Industry Visionaries Join Forces to Bring Portfolio of Unique, Super-Premium, Hand-Crafted Japanese Spirits to the US Market

When spirits industry veteran Julius Grant, who for the past 30 plus years has held C-Suite roles at some of the biggest spirits companies in the world, met Taichi Seki, a former professional mixed martial artist turned top sales manager for Asahi beer in the US, they instantly bonded. Introduced by a mutual friend in 2019, the two forged a plan and formed a company aimed at combining their collective industry knowledge and passion for Japanese artisanal spirits to bring to the US a portfolio of unique spirits unlike anything previously created.

ICONIC Spirits
Julious Grant and Taichi Seki, Co-Founders of ICONIC Spirits, a division of The Brand House Group

Seki's upbringing in Japan's Hyogo prefecture to a family that owned and operated a luxury hospitality business, along with his regional relationships and understanding of the Japanese marketplace, and Grant's deep knowledge of the global spirits industry and enthusiasm for Japanese spirits, led the duo to spend considerable time in Japan sourcing the highest quality ingredients, and meeting with craft distillers to identify and create taste profiles currently absent in the US market. ICONIC Spirits was born.

A division of luxury spirits producer The Brand House Group, which Grant founded, owns and is Chairman of, ICONIC Spirits is home to four distinct Japanese spirits brands, all sold in the United States, with a fifth on the way. The two marquee brands within the ICONIC Spirits portfolio are TEITESSA Japanese whisky and AWAYUKI Japanese Strawberry Gin.

TEITESSA is a single-grain Japanese whisky that is available in five expressions and is aged for 15 to 30 years using various oak types, including American white oak, Spanish oak and French Limousin oak. Made with the finest rice grain in Japan, called Koshihikari, TEITESSA is produced using the beehive-shaped Sato still, the centerpiece of the Sato method of Japanese distillation, which dates back several centuries and produces an exceptionally smooth finish that distinguishes it from Scotch whisky. The taste of TEITESSA reflects the elegance and expertise of Japanese craftsmanship, providing a smooth, sweet flavor with a pleasant, fruity, and enduring aftertaste.

AWAYUKI Japanese Strawberry Gin is a flavorful and vibrant gin made using precious pink and white Awayuki strawberries grown in the Nara Prefecture of Japan. The strawberries are carefully picked at the peak of ripeness to ensure maximum flavor, and more than 300 lbs. of these rare berries are used in the production of the gin, along with other botanicals, including juniper. The resulting combination creates a well-balanced and fragrant strawberry-infused gin crafted to set a new standard for flavored gin in the US.

"At ICONIC, we aim to deliver the consumer an exceptional, unforgettable experience with every sip," said Grant. "We believe that these spirits will write a new script for Japanese whisky and gin in the US, and we are excited to be at the forefront of this trend. When you combine the unique qualities that our age-old production methods deliver with the rare, superior ingredients we use, the end result is a duo of remarkable Japanese spirits."

"Japanese people take a lot of pride in quality, presentation and the ability to constantly innovate," said Seki, ICONIC Spirits CEO and Co-Founder. "TEITESSA and AWAYUKI embody these values. We met with many craft distillers across Japan to perfect the taste profiles and premium quality found within our portfolio and we're pleased to offer US consumers these unique, authentic and delicious Japanese spirits."

In addition to TEITESSA and AWAYUKI, ICONIC Spirits also produces Shunka Shuto, a variety of super-premium blended Japanese whiskies evoking the four seasons, and Bikoku, a pure malt made from the underground waters of Mount Fuji. HAIKEN, a hand-crafted, super-premium vodka with unique, fruit-infused flavors, will be their next luxury offering, set to launch within months.

According to Grant, all ICONIC Spirits brands are exclusively sold in the US with plans to introduce them in Japan and the UK by the end of the year.