Staffordshire Gin has a bold new brand identity and a website to match. Sauce gets the lowdown from cofounder Jay Davies.
Originally from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Jay moved to London at 18 before travelling around the world, largely led by his tastebuds. He returned to Staffordshire after 17 years to raise his children in the area: “We came back and laid down our roots. People always come back.” They set up the Staffordshire Gin Company just over a year ago.
“Claire introduced me to gin about eight years ago, and I surprised myself by liking it,” says Jay. “We’re always travelling to restaurants and pubs around the local area and the country in our camper van. We saw Yorkshire gin, Manchester gin and so on, but no Staffordshire gin. We thought it needed to happen, so we had a go and that’s how it started.”
Jay and his partner Claire – a graphic designer by background – now live in Silverdale, in a property that was built in 1864, which they have sensitively restored. The industrial heritage of the house and town, as well as the social history that surrounds it, were part of the inspiration for setting up the Staffordshire Gin Company.
“When we bought the house, we had a carrier bag full of keys and another two carrier bags full of history about the house, about the various people who’ve owned it since Victorian times. That set us off exploring and researching what Silverdale would have been like in the 19th century when the mines were being worked and industry was booming.”
Lord John Cadman, an engineer who revolutionised mining in the 19th century, was born in their house – hence calling their still Cadman. The locals in the village nicknamed him ‘Our Jack’, providing inspiration for a namesake cocktail: Black Violet gin, creme de cassis, lemonade and an old fashioned cherry on a stick.
A keen cook, Jay has broken many of his own food rules to find blends of botanicals that will sit well together in their collection of gins. They look for deep, woody flavours for the base notes, whereas citrus notes come through in the middle and the top notes are more floral. Ingredients are carefully combined to build a full-bodied flavour profile.
Cassia bark – lemon – bay
“It is classed as London dry because it comes out of the still at 70% ABV, and is not sweetened in any way afterwards, but it has a little more to it than a standard London dry gin. Its incredibly smooth creaminess takes a lot of people by surprise.”
Black cardamom – sloe – violet
“The black cardamom gives a slightly mysterious and smoky flavour. It does have an edge of violet to it, but it goes deeper than parma violet. It appeals to a lot of people who find other violet gins too sweet or sickly.”
Cinnamon – orange – rose
“She’s coming into her own. After two years of honing and refining the flavour, we are happy with it the way it is now. It’s based on a Old Tom style gin so it is very slightly sweetened after distillation, and it’s infused with hibiscus and saffron to get the colour.”
With the huge range of gins available these days, it can be difficult for new ones to get noticed, both by consumers and trade professionals. Jay and Claire have worked closely with the team at Provoke Marketing & Design – the team behind Sauce magazine – to rebrand Staffordshire Gin for the modern marketplace.
“I think Provoke have done a marvellous job, both in recognising the quality in our product and making it stand out,” comments Jay. “The original design we did ourselves, but we weren’t very experienced in the F&D business and we weren’t aware of all the things you need to take into account. We love the new branding and the new logo. I think the bottles look tidier, neater, bolder and contemporary. They are instantly recognisable now.”
Over the summer, you might spot Claire and Jay out and about at a range of food and drink festivals and events.
“We’re really looking forward to some of the local ones, and actually serving our drinks and chatting to people,” adds Jay. “I’m doing lots of work with the Gatehouse Theatre in Stafford, and also giving a guest lecture on gin and tonic at the University of Wolverhampton.
“By winter we’re hoping to have relocated. We’re going to move our distillery, open it to the public and do all manner of wonderful things in there. That’s all I want to say about that for now. We’ve got a cacao gin coming out in collaboration with Seed Chocolate. The response has been 100% positive, so we’re going to produce that over the summer. Plus we have a new look website and online shop in the pipeline in partnership with Provoke. So there are lots of exciting things happening.”
The new website is now live, and you can buy Staffordshire Gin online there.