Distillerie Societe J. Chatel & Cie, Saint-Denis
United Spirits Producers Ltd., Bambous|
The Chatel Distillery was set up almost one century ago on Reunion Island, a French island located at 800 km in the East of Madagascar.
Since it was set up, the company has always kept its family character and its secret recipes, guaranteed by the Chatel family, have been passed on through the generations, enabling the Chatel punches to retain their original and unique characteristics.
In 1907, Jean Chatel, a chemist by profession, gave up the idea of taking over his father’s pharmaceutical business and set up the Chatel Distillery in the family building located in the Rue Juliette Dodu in Saint Denis, present-day capital of Reunion Island.
In the very beginning, the distillery was a cottage industry. The products were manufactured in 250 litres hand-turned wooden barrels, and then sold in demijohns and delivered with the help of carts harnessed to donkeys.
The Chatel company soon stopped using its own alcohol for practical reasons.
It became a member of the rum trade association when it was set up and received a local quota.
When Jean Chatel died, in 1948, the Distillery was entrusted to his main assistant : Miss Alezan.
In 1957, Jeanne Chatel, the founder’s daughter, took the distillery’s interests back in hand. She then decided to gain ground against her competitors by creating a new and complete range of punches.
From another point of view, the outdated cottage industry was rapidly industrialised well before its competitors. In 1960, the company bought its first bottling machine, "la Girondine". In 1967, it bought some recipes like the famous Punch des Isles recipe. Since that period, the Chatel company kept on developing and soon, the building situated in the Rue Juliette Dodu was not large enough.
The transfer of the company and the increase of the manufacturing potential were then decided and became a reality in 1975 when a plot of land was bought in Le Chaudron, the present-day location of the Distillery.
Located in the industrial zone, near Saint-Denis, the company benefits from a high performance factory with a production unit (with vats) , a packaging workshop, a monitoring and research laboratory where the new recipes are developed.
At this time, Alain Chatel, the founder’s grand-son, became the manager of the family business.
At the instigation of Alain Chatel the company decidedly turned to exportation.
Today, the Chatel Company proposes a large range of products :
- 15 kinds of punches
- rums : even if the company has stopped distilling its own alcohol, it keeps on using the sugar cane alcohol manufactured in Reunion as its base product. This alcohol is fermented in barrels giving a special taste.
- Liqueurs : vanilla, medlar, cocoa, aniseed…
- Aperitifs : Kina, Vermouth, Apérino, Pastis.Nowadays, the Chatel Distillery produces about 1.5 million bottles per year.
- Each year, export missions are planned in different countries and relations are established with German, Brazilian, American or Paraguayan partners.
- New products are also developed to meet the requirements of the different markets.
Besides its activity on Reunion Island, the Chatel Company decided to set up a production unit in Mauritius in 1996 so as to make a start on this market which was free from any competitor for the punch segment.
With its partner Weal Group, and through its EUDCOS subsidiary, Chatel set up the USP Company which soon produced the rums and punches from the local raw material.
The whole ranges of punches, rums and liqueurs manufactured from the Chatel know-how were then available on the Mauritian market.
Today, USP produces some 80,000 bottles per year which are distributed in all the different points of sale of the island and in the Chatel shop located in the Caudan shopping centre of Port Louis. This shop mainly sells to the great number of tourists who visit the island each year.
At last, in 1998, the Chatel Company bought a major part of the Vue Belle Distillery’s capital.
Located on the Reunion Western coast in the heights of Saint-Paul (in one of the first sugar cane factories of the island), since 1990 the Vue Belle Distillery has successfully introduced its products not only on the alcohol market, but also on the gift market. By proposing liqueurs and creams made from rum in original, innovative and luxurious packaging, it actually distinguishes itself from the traditional local market.
This company has thus received few awards these last years :
In 1990, the magazine Industries Alimentaires et Agricoles (a professional magazine specialised in the agricultural and food industry) gave the company the presentation award for its Paul et Virginie range, the bottle of which is adorned with an illustration from Trémois, a French artist.
In the same year, its product Pause Café, the bottle of which is silkscreen printed with fine gold, received the packaging award.
In 1992, Lune de Miel received the world packaging award for its bottle made of very pure glass and silkscreen printed with fine gold and set with a semiprecious stone.
Here are full texts from the labels
re53: Rhum Blanc; Chatel; 70 cl; 50% vol; En provenance directe de l'Ile de la Reunion; Distillerie Societe J. Chatel & Cie, Saint-denis, Reunion
re55: Esprit de canne a sucre; 36% vol; Composition: alcool, aromes, extraits composes vegetaux, maceration de vanille, colorant caramel; Distillerie Societe J. Chatel & Cie, Saint-Denis, Reunion; 100 cl
re_49: La Buse
re_54: Bel Rive
re_45: Punch des Iles
re_57: Goyavlet; 17%