2007 graduate, law student peddle top-shelf liquor from France
Moti Goldring and Jared Rapp are giving a new meaning to Spartans spirit. The pair graduated from their days of cheap alcohol and moved on to top-shelf vodka promotion. The partners found the three-grain vodka Dragon Bleu while on a 2005 trip to France, and decided to bring it to the states, Goldring said.
“Dragon Bleu impressed us because it is a very smooth vodka,” Goldring said.
Through their company, RGI Brands, they import and develop Dragon Bleu in the U.S. It was launched in Michigan on Aug. 3 with the first deliveries made about a week later, Rapp said.
Goldring said they plan to distribute more at the end of this year and early into 2009.
After earning his undergraduate degree from University of Michigan, Goldring graduated from the MSU College of Law in 2007. Rapp graduated with a business administration degree from MSU in 2005 and is in his third year at MSU College of Law.
Goldring credits their time at MSU for assisting them in bringing the drink to the U.S.
“We discovered Dragon Bleu while both students at MSU,” he said. “We learned a lot about how to start this type of business from classes that we took. Classes such as international business law and international trade regulations helped us save thousands of dollars in legal consulting fees.”
The vodka won silver at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition this year, according to its Web site.
“Silver is a better one that you would recommend,” said Carol Seibert, managing director of the competition.
Goldring said Dragon Bleu also ranked highly in the International Wine and Spirit Competition.
“We knew we had a winning product, and this award confirmed to us that we should bring Dragon Bleu to the U.S.,” he said.
The vodka, which costs about $32 per bottle, is available locally at Rick’s American Cafe, Spartan Spirits and Dublin Square Irish Pub and other places, Rapp said.
The two founded their company in 2006 and plan to import other spirits in the future.
They currently assist other companies in obtaining import permits for foreign spirits, Goldring said.
“We are not looking into importing other vodkas because we believe that we have already found the best vodka out there,” he said.
“We are, however, planning to import other spirits, such as cognac, in the future.”
Dragon Bleu is produced in France by Patrick Brisset, a master distiller and president of the International Centre for Spirits and Liqueurs in Segonzac, France. Brisset’s family has been producing spirits since 1760, Goldring said.
Rapp said the vodka is being marketed to appeal to those who are brand-conscious, sophisticated and youthful.
“Surprisingly, (students) do buy high-end,” said Rich McCarius, the manager of Tom’s Party Store, 2778 E. Grand River Ave.
Regardless of the demographic, Goldring and Rapp are pleased to bring their business back to their roots.
“We are proud to be a Michigan company, which is why we chose to bring Dragon Bleu first to Michigan,” Goldring said.