La Maison du whisky
Georges Bénitah and his two brothers create SNPA – La Maison du Whisky.
The first store opens on 18 Rue Saint-Didier (Paris 16)
Commercialization of the first Scottish single malt, Glen Grant.
Two new stores open: 24 Rue de Tilsitt (Paris 8), 74 Rue de Passy (Paris 16).
As the Second World War came to an end, Georges Bénitah and his brothers discovered whisky in Casablanca, where many American bases were located. Returning to Paris in the mid-1950s, they immediately decided they wanted to share this little-known product in France and it quickly became a passion.
In 1956, they founded La Maison du Whisky to invest in the new niche.
Georges Bénitah’s goal? To become France’s leading specialist in rare, original and exclusive whiskies. At first, La Maison du Whisky concentrated on distributing to cafés, hotel bars, cabarets and restaurants before expanding to retail with its first store on Rue Saint-Didier in the 16th arrondissement of Paris in 1961. La Maison du Whisky quickly developed its expertise in the field and became a household name.
This pivotal era was marked by two key events: the arrival of the first single malts at La Maison du Whisky and the end of the quotas limiting the import of whisky.
The stage was set to unveil new whisky brands like Cardhu, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant, Glenlivet, Strathisla and Milton Duff.
La Maison du Whisky has four outlets in Paris.
La Maison du Whisky offers a rich and varied range made up of over 150 whiskies from all over the world, including 100 single malts.
La Maison du Whisky becomes the official distributor for Gordon & MacPhail, Scotland’s leading independent bottler.
La Maison du Whisky offers the first single cask and cask strength whiskies.
Georges Bénitah meets Andrew and Brian Symington, two years before they found Signatory Vintage.
La Maison du Whisky stocks over 500 products.
Between 1970 and 1977, La Maison du Whisky launched several official single malts, including Caol Ila, Highland Park, Lagavulin and Springbank.
By the early 1980s, La Maison du Whisky had become an importer in its own right, continuing an initiative launched with a select few producers a few years before.
In parallel, La Maison du Whisky opened four shops in different areas of the capital (rue d’Anjou, avenue de Saxe, rue de Passy and rue de Tilsit).
It also built close relationships with the main players in the Scotch whisky market, particularly the independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail and Signatory Vintage, two specialists in old vintages and rare bottlings.
In the mid-eighties, La Maison du Whisky began marketing its first cask strength whiskies, working with a network of independent wine merchants, who began developing their single malt ranges.
Thierry Bénitah becomes the new Chief Executive.
First collaboration with Flammarion for the publication of the ABCdaire du Whisky.
Launch of whisky.fr, the first French retail website dedicated to whisky.
George Bénitah’s son Thierry Bénitah joined the company in 1995 and definitively refocused La Maison du Whisky’s activities on distribution.
Thierry notably expanded La Maison du Whisky’s portfolio to include Blanton’s and Buffalo Trace, two iconic brands from the United States, where he first began his career in finance. This event paved the way for many other brands and distilleries, such as Arran in Scotland, Redbreast in Ireland and Suntory’s whiskies in Japan.
It was also during this period that La Maison du Whisky was identified as a leading specialist by the publisher Flammarion, who entrusted it with writing its books on whisky and whisky lifestyle (L’ABCdaire du Whisky, Le Whisky).
During this period, La Maison du Whisky’s portfolio grew from 500 to 1,000 products, which it took the decision to promote through whisky.fr, the first online spirits retailer, launched in 1997.
Nikka’s Japanese whiskies launch in the French market.
The first edition of Whisky Magazine France is published and the first Whisky Live Paris is held at Palais Brongniart.
Launch of the Indian single malt Amrut and the Welsh single malt Penderyn.
La Maison du Whisky Singapore opens.
La Maison du Whisky becomes the European distributor for Japanese brand Nikka.
Chichibu launches in France, alongside the first Japanese single casks from Karuizawa and Hanyu. Start of LMDW’s partnership with Italian specialist Velier and sale of the first Caroni and Demerara rums.
For La Maison du Whisky, the 2000s were inextricably linked with the emergence of Japanese whisky on the French market. Nikka’s whiskies were included for the first time in the Maison du Whisky catalogue in 2001.
In parallel, La Maison du Whisky turned its attentionto other whisky-producing countries such as Wales, France, Sweden, Italy, India, New Zealand, Tasmania and Taiwan.
It was also in the 2000s that the first two shops outside of France were opened, one in Reunion Island in 2002 and a second in Singapore in 2006.
Rum also joined La Maison du Whisky’s portfolio during this period, and the category has continued to develop at rapid rates since.
In 2004 La Maison du Whisky launched its own publishing house, which manages publication of the French version of Whisky Magazine and was the first to organize a show dedicated entirely to whisky, Whisky Live Paris.
Already the exclusive distributor of Nikka throughout Europe, in 2007 La Maison du Whisky extended its export activity to over 45 countries. During this time, the business gradually became one of the principle players in the HORECA sector and a contributing factor to the booming new generation of cocktail bars.
Renovation of the 20 Rue d’Anjou store in Paris and expansion to include two new areas, the Collector Room and the Tasting Room
Launch of the Neisson rhum agricole and the three first Haitian Clairins, Casimir, Sajous and Vaval.
The Golden Promise Whisky Bar opens at 11 rue Tiquetonne (Paris 2).
Creation of La Maison & Velier (LM&V), a joint venture between La Maison du Whisky and Italian independent distributor Velier.
Opening of the Islay Room in the store on Rue d’Anjou as well as a dedicated tasting area named The Lab.
In 2010, La Maison du Whisky developed its stores to include an address focused primarily on rum at 6 Carrefour de l’Odéon, then going on to renovate its historic store on 20 Rue d’Anjou in 2014. A collection of more than 2,500 products was now available and included a large number of collectors’ editions, amassed over 30 years of careful selections. In 2017, La Maison du Whisky’s first bar, the Golden Promise, opened at 11 Rue Tiquetonne in partnership with La Maison du Saké.
The 2010s also marked the start of collaboration with Velier, with the launch in 2017 of the joint venture La Maison & Velier (LM&V). In 2019, La Maison du Whisky added rum production to its skills through LM&V, acquiring the Port-au-Prince distillery in Haiti.
In 2011, La Maison du Whisky launched the first edition of the Artist range, dedicated to cask strength single cask Scotch whiskies, in collaboration with artist Warren Khong. Every year since, a new opus has been unveiled at Whisky Live Paris. 2016 saw the launch of the Artist Collective, an extension of the Artist range, followed by other collections, including Through the Grapevine (cognac), Version française (whisky and Armagnac), Transcontinental Rum and Ex-Libris (world whisky).
Launch of an online auction site for rare whiskies and spirits, Fine Spirits Auction (FSA), in partnership with iDealwine, the leader in online wine auctions.
Launch of The Avant Gardists (TAG), a platform dedicated to young brands and innovative distilleries.
Roll out of ecoSPIRITS, an innovative and sustainable solution for the wholesale distribution of spirits.
A new store opens on Rue Tiquetonne, primarily dedicated to Japanese whisky and sake.
Since the early 2020s, La Maison du Whisky’s renown has continued to grow. In 2021, expanding on an unprecedented scale, the 18th edition of Whisky Live Paris filled the 10,000 m2 of the Grande Halle de la Villette. Updating its graphic identity, La Maison du Whisky renovated its three stores from 2022 to 2023.
La Maison du Whisky has continued its digital innovations. In 2020, it launched Fine Spirits Auction, an online spirits auction site, in partnership with iDealwine, the leader in online wine auctions. In 2022, La Maison du Whisky created The Avant Gardists, a fully digital platform dedicated to young brands and innovative distilleries, designed to support the spirits industry’s thriving momentum.
In parallel, in January 2022, La Maison du Whisky launched ecoSPIRITS, the first eco-responsible solution for international spirits distribution. Originally designed for cafés, hotels and restaurants, the solution was also extended to spirits retailers in 2023.