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From Swindon Advertiser:-
A UNIQUE Wiltshire gin, flavoured with poppies and raising funds to help traumatised military personnel, is enjoying meteoric success just months after its launch.
Dauntless, produced by the Royal Wootton Bassett Gin Company, is a premium Dry London Gin which has gone from an initial run of 200 bottles in August, to gaining endorsement and a distribution deal from Marks and Spencer in December.
Ambitious managing director Andy Carr has set his sights on sales of 14,000 bottles in 2018.
But this new company, run by family and friends, has its focus firmly on its ethical aims – giving more than 20 per cent of its profits to charity.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure and an adventure,” said Andy, who has lived in Royal Wootton Bassett for 30 years. “So many people have got involved and become ambassadors for the gin.”
From the outset, Andy wanted to create a gin that would raise money for service personnel and decided Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for the mental health of military veterans, would be the first beneficiary. He said 10 per cent of profits from sales of Dauntless would be donated to the organisation, which helps former servicemen and women deal with issues such as trauma, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Another 10 per cent will be donated to the Cavell Nurses Trust, which provides support for UK nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants, both working and retired, when they are suffering personal or financial hardship.
Additionally, the company is planning to start a grant scheme, administered by an independent panel.
Andy, 52, said he woke up one morning with the idea of setting up a gin company, put it to family and friends, and then with their enthusiastic backing, he ran with it.
“I have great respect for the heritage of Royal Wootton Bassett, its history and the role it played,” he said.
“I wanted the gin to be very English. Many are made with sugar beet from France, but we wanted one made from English wheat – not from some xenophobic motive but because we wanted it to be locally based.
“We also wanted it to be stronger than the average gin – to reflect the name – so it is 43 per cent, while most gins have four or five per cent less alcohol than that.”
The gin contains 14 botanicals, and in keeping with the name, its purpose and the role of Royal Wootton Bassett in the repatriation of fallen service personnel, this includes flavouring with the seeds of blue and white poppies.
“With a red poppy on the label, and blue and white poppies in the gin, this also echoes the Union Jack on the label,” Andy explained.
He had first intended to call the beverage Heroes Gin, but reconsidered after a Swiss company asserted a claim on the name. But his second choice, Dauntless – appropriately meaning to show fearlessness and determination – has proved fitting and popular. The gin’s strapline is “Dauntless is the spirit” and the company uses the distinctive local form of the town hall as its logo.
These choices – and the core motive of raising funds for Combat Stress – have swiftly captured the imagination of various military individuals and organisations.
In October Andy was invited to Sandhurst to present Dauntless awards to service personnel recovering from post-traumatic stress and taking part in a pentathlon.
Sir Peter Wall, former Chief of the General Staff and now president of Combat Stress, has welcomed the gin company’s fundraising partnership and will be a member of the panel making grants. And the gin company has been invited to the House of Commons to serve Dauntless as a guest gin at the reception for an all-party working group.
From the outset, the quality of the gin was of the utmost importance.
Andy decided it had to be a London Dry Gin – a form of the drink distilled to strict requirements without any artificial ingredients, and with no flavour or colour added after distillation.
“I contacted a family-run distillery in Birmingham, and I had a meeting with Rob Dorset, the master distiller. Actually, he was wearing a poppy,” Andy said. “I asked if we could use poppies in the gin.”
The labels were designed by Cirencester company Athena, and printed by Malmesbury company The Complete Product. The distinctive Dauntless bottles are not so local, however – they come from Venice and Andy said this design was usually used for perfume.
Dauntless gin is already on sale at various local shops, including Magnum Wines in Wood Street, Swindon, the Three Trees Farm Shop in Chiseldon and Relish Delicatessen in Royal Wootton Bassett. The new deal with Marks and Spencer takes the gin to a whole new level – it will be available in stores across the south west from March this year.
Andy, who is married to Tracy and has three grown-up children, said he was delighted.
“It passed the taste panel and the commercial challenges,” he explained. “They reported it was a unique gin and that you could taste the poppy and floral notes. They want to help us grow the brand. This takes us into a different league.”
Tonic company Schweppes is also a Dauntless enthusiast. It approached the new gin company and has proposed a joint marketing campaign for Dauntless gin and Schweppes’ new premium brand, called 1783 – the date the company started.
Arkell’s is another supporter, promoting Dauntless at gin events at the Cross Keys and the Angel Hotel in Royal Wootton Bassett.
“People have been really supportive, and so far, our progress has been extremely rapid, and it’s been successful so quickly,” Andy said. “The Ginventory app gives Dauntless a score of 9.8, so its quality is well accepted.
“We want to sell 40,000 bottles next year – that would make this a £1m business – and that’s our target for 2018.”
Andy, who worked in sales and marketing for 30 years, is not short on further ambitions either – he has his eye on the US and Japanese markets and one day would like to set up a distillery in Royal Wootton Bassett. Dauntless is the spirit indeed.
For more information, visit royalgin.co.uk.