The Craft Gin Club Gin of the Month's founder, Christopher Beaumont-Hutchings, likes to drink his Chilgrove Dry Gin in a number of concoctions. But at the moment, especially with summer coming on, his favourite is the Bright n' Breezy, a drink specifically made with Fentimans Ginger Beer. Chilgrove works frequently with Fentimans whose soft drinks and mixers are a regular fixture when Christopher presents at shows.
In this month's Gin of the Month parcel, Craft Gin Club Members received a bottle of Fentimans Ginger Beer so that they could taste Chilgrove in just the way that its founders meant it to be tasted.
Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverages got its start in 1905 when a recipe for a ginger beer was left to iron worker Thomas Fentiman in exchange for a loan. When the loan was never repaid, Thomas became the proprietor of the recipe and began delivering his brew via horse and carriage to the town folk of Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire (see picture below). As its popularity grew, so did the company which continues to be “Faithful to the Originals.” The Craft Gin Club spoke with Tiffany McKirdy, Fentimans Operations Director, about how the craft mixer brand is accompanying the craft gin boom.
1. How have you stayed true to your original recipes over the years whilst keeping up with new trends?
With an authentic heritage dating back to 1905, we consider Fentimans to be the original adult soft drink. Over time, we have always maintained the integrity of our recipes using only natural ingredients. The search for these natural ingredients is at the heart of our research and development programme and drives our innovation. For example, one of our most recent launches was Rose Lemonade made with rose oil from the world-famous Kazanlak Rose Valley in Bulgaria. What sparked the idea is that our owner, Eldon Robson, great-grandson of Fentimans’ founder Thomas Fentiman, came across bowls of rose petals while dining at the Cinnamon Club in London. The petals were actually condiments so we thought if you can eat rose petals at dinner, surely we could make a refreshing drink with them.
2. What effect has the shift towards quality, artisanal products in the UK had on Fentimans?
Our dedication to natural ingredients and our heritage have led to consistently buoyant sales for more than a decade driven by an increasingly educated public that is developing a taste for a unique and healthy alternative to the usual carbonated soft drinks. One area where we have had substantial success with our range of botanically brewed mixers led by our tonic water is in cocktails at quality bars and restaurants. To emphasise this trend, we are embarking on a series of Fentimans Friday events in which we will be filming carefully crafted cocktails in a variety of upmarket cocktail bars in London and other major UK cities.
3. How does Chilgrove Dry Gin fit into your strategy?
We enjoy very much working with Christopher and Celia at Chilgrove. Whenever they do an event, Fentimans accompanies their tastings such as their upcoming involvement in the Cowes Week yacht races. What’s more, our mixers go amazingly well with Chilgrove, particularly our Ginger Beer which Christopher loves in a Bright n’ Breezy, and our light tonic whose grapefruit notes complement Chilgrove’s lighter style of gin.
Bright n' Breezy
70ml Chilgrove Dry Gin
2 lime wedges, squeezed
4 dashes Angostura bitters
Fentimans Ginger Beer
Add ingredients to a Collins glass. Stir well. Top up with chilled soda water. Garnish with a lime wedge