High spirits as gin brand is 'back from the dead'

A new line of gin which started life in a back garden in Bray after the revival of a defunct Sixties brand is making its way into the burgeoning international market.

Paul McCarthy began mixing botanicals and working on flavours in his Bray Road garden about two years ago, after gaining the rights to the long defunct Horse Guards London Dry Gin from the Sixties — with the help of entrepreneur Simon Rendall, who brings brands back from the dead.

“Most people start with the gin and then come up with a trademark, we started with the trademark then came up with the gin,” said Paul, who quit his IT career to get into the business.

After about a year of experimenting, using a combination of juniper, coriander, angelica, orange and grapefruit peel and cardamom, Paul and his partners finally found their desired taste.

The gin, now made in Clapham, London, first hit the shelves in April in Maidenhead’s Grenfell Arms, and has since broken the growing export market, having been sold in Abu Dabi, Austria and France.

The company aims to sell about 25,000 bottles in its first year and is in talks with buyers in New Zealand and Hong Kong.

The gin has gained the blessing of London’s Household Cavalry, which inspired the bottles’ Union Jack and horse rider branding.

The company sold cocktails named after famous Calvary members at the Gin in the Park festival in Maidenhead on Sunday and is the main sponsor the Windsor Races Gin Festival on Monday.

Paul, 55, says 48 million bottles of gin were sold in the UK alone in 2017, up 20 per cent from the previous year.

“The people who are losing market share are the traditional mass produced gin. People are spending a little bit more for a good quality gin,” he added.

The company, whose office is in Bell Street, Maidenhead, hopes to build a visitors centre in Windsor or Maidenhead in the near future for people to sample its gin. Visit www.horseguards.london/ for more information.

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