Vanguard founder joins aperitif brand RHUBI

The team behind Australian apéritif brand RHUBI Mistelle has announced major expansion plans after bringing industry veteran James France onboard as an investor and advisor.

France was the founder of multi-award-winning premium spirits importer and distributor Vanguard Luxury Brand and announced his departure from the business in February 2023. Vanguard Luxury Brands has subsequently been sold to Lion.

France said: “Rhubi is a wonderful Australian brand with outstanding credentials and provenance.  It perfectly addresses the spritz occasion with a liquid that is less sweet and more versatile than many others in the category.  Its colour and packaging draw the consumer in, while the taste and ease of the two-step perfect spritz keep them there. I’m really excited to be working with the Rhubi team to help fulfil this great brand’s potential.”

Globally renowned industry figure John Gakuru has also joined the brand. He brings decades of global experience, ranging from distribution, brand advocacy, activations and brand growth, and will assist RHUBI to gain traction with consumers and trade, as well as forging international relationships.

Gakuru said: “There are few things more exciting than bringing new and exciting brands to the market. RHUBI represents a unique flavour and usage opportunity that we strongly believe will carve out a wonderful space on the back bars and drinks menus, home bars and store shelves of the discerning. A long forgotten category, brought back to life in stunning fashion!”

Linn Philips-Johansson, Brand Director said: “With our award-winning liquid and unique design, we believe we’re just getting started taking on the aperitivo segment of the Australian market. With innovation and creativity at the forefront, we aim to offer consumers and trade – both nationally and internationally – an alternative to old school and passé apéritifs. The onboarding of James France and John Gakuru is in-line with our strategy to work with the industry’s best, utilising our network to prepare RHUBI for the global market. We are delighted to welcome these veterans to the business – each of them bringing unique skills and knowledge to the table.”

The founding team behind RHUBI Mistelle consists of award-winning Australian bartenders and industry professionals Evan Stroeve, Tim Philips-Johansson and David Hobbs – a trio who have shaped contemporary drink trends.

The team launched the brand with strong directions from co-founders and brand specialists Frank Bethel and Will Miles (the team behind Grown Spirits) and support from hybrid creative PR, social media and content agency Poem Group.

The apertif pays homage to the largely overlooked classic Normandy French style of fortified wine, Mistelle – a drink traditionally made from grapes, pears or apples, pairing a fermented fruit wine with a spirit made of the same ingredient, sometimes with a little sugar and botanicals added.

The creation has been crafted from locally-grown rhubarb in Victoria then coupled with juniper, gentian, grapefruit and mandarin. The creation also contains less additional sugar and alcohol (ABV 18%) than the majority of its competitors in the market.

The suggested serve is 45ml RHUBI with 150ml soda water and a grapefruit wedge. It is currently available on the shelves of 400+ venues and retailers around the country.

To drive and increase the brand’s visibility across leading trade accounts in Australia, RHUBI is actively looking to grow their team further and is now on the hunt for a part-time Brand Ambassador in NSW or Victoria to drive and nurture both existing and new trade relationships.

Pictured main: Back row: Frank Bethel, Tim Philips-Johansson, John Gakuru, Linn Philips-Johansson. Front row: David Hobbs, Will Miles, James France, Evan Stroeve.

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Categories: Business