Discussing his cucumber obsession, new products and what the future holds. Here’s our (G)interview with Graham from the English Drinks Company.
Graham took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to Gin Explorer about their amazing Cucumber Gin and Qcumber Water; the future of the English Drinks company; where their obsession with cucumber started; and what his typical day looks like. All while taking deliveries of exciting new products for 2017.
You’ve featured in the Gin Explorer box for the last couple of months – how did you get involved with them?
Hayley came to our stand earlier this year. We had a brief conversation about our products and how working with Gin Explorer might be beneficial. Our first appearance was in the November box where we supplied our Qcumber mixer and then the Cucumber Gin featured in the December box.
What came first – gin or Qcumber mixer?!
It was our original Qcumber mixer. We now produce 2 other mixers which include one with mint and one with ginger. We then introduced a 200ml bottle of the Qcumber mixer allowing us to increase the level of carbonation creating a “fizzier” product.
We were really surprised how well the Qcumber mixer went with gin and decided to develop our own gin. We’d got the flavour spot on with Qcumber so was curious as to how it would transfer across to a gin product. It’s been 2 years in the making and in June 2016 we launched, closely followed by an IWSC silver award in July 2016 and 2 stars from Great Taste.
Tell us about the gin in your own words
It’s a very smooth gin which we recommend is drunk either neat or with some tonic. It’s a real cucumber gin, not a gin with cucumber flavouring, so we had to ensure that the cucumber really holds its own.
Where does the name come from?
There’s no rocket science behind this one!! However, for our Cucumber Gin we decided not to use the Qcumber brand as it would restrict us on any future projects. Our Cucumber Gin sits under our “English Drinks Company” name.
We can see that cucumber is a big favourite of yours…where does that obsession come from?!
The fixation came about 7-8 years ago whilst we were visiting our son who was working in Greece at a private sailing club. We had a G&T and were surprised when he served it to us with slices of cucumber on the top – something we’d never seen before. He’d been introduced to it by another customer earlier that summer.
When we got home, my wife began experimenting with cucumber and made a cordial which was lovely when served with some soda water. We saw an opportunity in the market for a new soft drink as elderflower was the “big thing” at the time.
What’s the biggest challenge of business so far that you’ve had to overcome?
Oh, there’s a new challenge every day! It was probably creating the original Qcumber mixer and taking the risk in getting it to market. Turning our skills to developing a new gin was also a challenge as the flavouring is a completely different concept to that used in the mixer.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There is no typical day for me – the only thing that is the same, is that I’m up at 5am and normally in the office by 6am. I’ve learnt that anything (& everything!) can happen – new ideas, new approaches, new suppliers, customers, other industry folk, all cropping up at any time. It really makes for an interesting day every day!
What does the future hold?
There are some new products coming in 2017 – but they are top secret at the moment! (Whilst on the phone doing this interview, Graham had to stop to take a delivery of some samples of these new products…!) We really want to grow the business and have 2 successful brands – anything else that happens is a complete bonus.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
It’s probably creating ideas and seeing them through to fruition. It’s quite exciting seeing an idea that’s come into your head randomly finally become an actual product you can see and taste. We have so many ideas that not all of them actually become reality.
Another bonus to my job is that our office is at home so when I’m sat at my desk I can see the beautiful Shropshire countryside.
G&T, cocktail or on the rocks?
I like to have our Cucumber gin neat – keep it in the fridge so that it’s cold and you won’t have to add any ice, although I know for some this is part of the experience. Simply serve with a sprig of mint or coriander and it’s good to go!
Favourite Gin…other than your own?
I love Martin Millers at the moment – it’s made with Icelandic water but distilled in England.
Remember you can get 10% off a full-size bottle of Cucumber Gin with the code inside your December box!