About Wild Drinks
“So my advice to you if you wake up one morning with the idea of setting up a drinks company…
turn over and go back to sleep”
JONATHAN WALLINGTON – FOUNDER WILD DRINKS.
A wonderful drink that is basically champagne and sloe gin.2012 was a great year for sloes and on our farm in Dorset we had a bumper crop. So I decided I should do something with them. Realising plain sloe gin was rather old news and a crowded market I set out to do something slightly different. ‘Sloe-gasms’ are a real Christmas drink in our farmhouse so I set about recreating it in a way it was affordable, not too strong but still delicious. And so the tasting sessions began! Many a long evening was spent making concoctions with all manner of alcohols, until finally I settled on a Perry base and three flavours – sloe and gin, elderflower and gin and plum and vodka.At that stage I thought I had done it! Within a matter of days if not hours we would be in full production with accounts with all the major distributors. How wrong was I?Turning the newfound nectar from a kitchen table recipe into a commercial proposition was harder than I thought. Initially I tried to use all local products to Dorset but it quickly became evident that the best ingredients were not always available locally. In the end I decided to opt for quality. The Perry base comes from the north of England. Whilst not an area renown for producing Perry, the blend I found is fine and light, without an overpowering flavour, so as to mimic the elegance of champagne. The flavours are all natural and come from all over the UK the Gin is from Thames distillers, the finest the UK has to offer. So the finished product is quality UK with no substitutions in an attempt to regionalise it. Only the best would do.Packaging is an area I have no expertise in, both when I started out and now. One lesson I have learnt is you can’t please all the people all of the time. Therefore it’s important to decide on a small number of advisers – preferably one – and stick with them. I of course took advice from all quarters, changed my mind at least three times a day and as a result struggled. We got there in the end after many hours of head scratching and a very patient designer.
The design is attempting to evoke quality but at the same time natural, hedgerow and wild. All the ingredients are natural and I really wanted this to show through in the design. I also wanted the design to say something about the person drinking it, sophisticated, elegant but above all natural.
So then I had a liquid and a design; the next problem was getting it in a bottle! After one disaster where we were badly let down by some real amateurs ( never believe anybody who starts a sentence with ‘we are really good at what we do…… ‘ as usually they aren’t !) we found a reliable bottling partner in the north of England who understood exactly what was required in terms of quality and speed of turnaround. Consistency of production is critical to ensure each bottle is not only the same but of the highest quality.
The final part of the puzzle is to get this wonderful drink, that is now in a bottle, with an elegant label, into your deserving hand. Easier said than done. It started off – as my wife will testify – as one of my five minute jobs. It is critical to find a sales partner who understands what you are trying to achieve and not just give you unrealistic sales projections to secure the account. So what better qualification than an agency that has recently launched their own brand and gone through the complete learning process and growing pains with their own product and more importantly their own money! Stuart, Richard, Tina and the team at Cask have been pivotal in launching WILD and making sure it is put In front of the right people… You, the discerning drinker.
The rest as they say is history. Everything in my life is a five minute job according to those closest to me! However even I must admit WILD has taken slightly longer than five minutes!
So my advice to you if you wake up one morning with the idea of setting up a drinks company… turn over and go back to sleep, it will be much easier in the long run on both your nerves and wallet!