Entering any drinks competition is ultimately about trying to win a Gold medal for your brand, but to be then told that your product is not just of gold standard but the best out of all other products entered in your category from around the world really is something else. It means the team at Ramsbury Brewery & Distillery are still reeling from being named Best Spirit of the Year in the 2021 London Spirits Competition for its Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka.
Sarah Thomas, marketing manager for Ramsbury Brewery & Distilling explains why it entered the London Spirits Competition and the impact of winning the best overall spirit in the competition.
How does it feel to be the best overall spirit in the world in the London Spirits Competition?
It’s a fantastic achievement. We knew our vodka was unique (hence why we use Horatio Wheat) but to become the best spirit is truly amazing.
What do you think it will mean for the brand and its position in the vodka category?
We have already been recognised internationally after we won the award, a lot of new customers around the world have noticed our existence as the best spirit. It is fascinating how quickly the word gets out there. I hope the vodka category understands the consumer demand for proper neutral vodka, as the last years influx of flavoured variations have caused confusion about the category as a whole.
Why did you decide to enter this competition in particular?
We try to enter a range of competitions from British to international and this one stood out as it wasn’t just a blind tasting event. In today’s climate it’s critical to offer high value products to new and existing customers. Not only do customers expect good value in craft spirits, but the packaging needs to reflect all the hard work that has been put in producing the spirits. The fact we won this achievement using our new packaging only indicates that the world class spirits we produce is being packaged with care and we could not be happier that the judges appreciate the effort that has been put in to developing a compelling design to match the world class liquid we already knew we had.
Where are you currently distributing the brand and how is that going?
We are currently distributed in the UK, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Germany, Greece & the Philippines. The market have of course been highly affected by the pandemic and the roadmap we set internally is changing on a quarterly basis. For now, our core focus is to grow the brand in our home market, the UK. We are looking to launch Ramsbury in selected key European countries during 2021 with the big goal of establishing ourselves in the US in 2023.
Can you tell us some background to the distillery and what your philosophy has been since starting out?
Our group manager knew the soil conditions were exceptional for growing high quality malting barley and this naturally took us on a path to building our own brewery. With hard work and passion, the brewery became a great success and after many years of perfecting our craft we decided to build our own distillery.
Because we use all our own products in the production process, we were able to produce very high quality, smooth vodka using our carefully selected wheat and very pure chalk-filtered water.
We started to experiment with botanicals and two years after the distillery was set up, we had crafted our own smooth and distinct gin. Quality, sustainability and authenticity are at the heart of everything we do. It’s incredibly important to us to have a process and product that takes nothing from the environment. It’s why we’re proud to have our name on the front of the bottle.
At Ramsbury we practice environmental conscious farming. We use the perfect blend of tradition and innovation to produce spirits with the highest quality and the lowest environmental impact. Our copper stills use the steam generated by a bio-mass boiler fed by our own sustainable woodland. Once the distilling is complete, the spent grains are fed to the animals on the farms. The wastewater is cleaned by a wildlife-friendly reed bed system, which then feeds into our lake.
What are your growth plans for the rest of the year?
We have some very exciting plans. Not only are we launching our first ever national campaign in the UK, we are also looking to introduce new editions later this year with some exciting partners.
How has the last year been for you with the pandemic and how did you respond?
Last year has been tough for us as it has been for the whole industry. It has truly been a time of coming together. We switched from distilling vodka and gin to sanitisers for the NHS. We also developed a programme called Ramsbury Friends, where we invited drinkers to buy a drinks voucher at their favourite Ramsbury bar and matched the value of their voucher with a donation to that specific bar. It’s the small initiatives like these that make the difference in the long run.
How do you distribute your brands in the UK?
We are very happy to be working with CASK Liquid Marketing in the UK, a like-minded partner with a fantastic team. Of course, you can always buy a bottle or two at the distillery shop and website.