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Get your tickets for the launch of Chocao

An award winning chocolatier, an award winning gin distiller and an award winning food marketer walk into a pub… It might sound like the start of a joke, but in…

An award winning chocolatier, an award winning gin distiller and an award winning food marketer walk into a pub… It might sound like the start of a joke, but in fact it was the start of Chocao.

A cacao gin liqueur designed to be enjoyed neat as an after dinner drink, Chocao is the result of a creative collaboration between three independent Staffordshire businesses: Staffordshire Gin founders Jason Davies and Claire Gibbs, award-winning chocolatier James Walter of Seed Chocolate, and food and drink marketing specialist Daren Bach from Provoke.

To celebrate the launch, there will be tasting events this February at Ten Green Bottles in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stone. Ticket holders will have the chance to meet the distillers and to sample Chocao, along with gin-soaked cacao nibs and delicious Seed Chocolate. Afterwards, there will be specially crafted Chocao cocktails on offer as created by Ten Green Bottles’ in-house mixologist, Ben.

The gin-based liqueur is infused with ultra-premium, single origin Peruvian cacao beans, which are more commonly used to make chocolate. The cacao beans are bought via direct trade from an agricultural collective in northern Peru. Every batch is directly traceable to the community where it was grown, thus ensuring there is no child slavery in the production process.The drink is also suitable for vegans.

Jason and Claire distil each batch of cacao gin at Staffordshire Gin HQ in Silverdale. Their popular Black Violet gin recently won bronze at the World Gin Awards.

The cacao beans are sourced and prepared by James Walter of Seed Chocolate, who has received recognition for his bean-to-bar chocolate from The Academy of Chocolate, The International Chocolate Awards and The Guild of Fine Foods’ Great Taste Awards.

Daren Bach, a food and drink marketing specialist, founder of Provoke Marketing & Design and editor of Sauce magazine, is responsible for the branding, packaging and website design as well as marketing activity for Chocao.

Tickets for the launch events are priced at £5 per person.
Book here for Ten Green Bottles Stone on Thursday 6 February.
Book here for Ten Green Bottles Newcastle-under-Lyme on Thursday 13 February.

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Born and bred in Staffordshire

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…

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.

Original
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 Violet
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.”

Rose Gold
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.

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