In our August Gin of the Month parcel which included an exclusive edition of Rock Rose Gin, Craft Gin Club Members have enjoyed a nice surprise in their gin parcel - Walter Gregor Tonic Water, Scotland’s first tonic from Summerhouse Drinks, made in Scotland on Manse Farm in Peathill. Members mixed We caught up with Claire Rennie, Head of Fizz, to learn more about her artisanal drinks company and why she decided that it was about time Scotland had a native tonic water.
1. What is your background? Are you from the Peathill area? Have you always worked on farms and produced drinks?
I am a farmer’s daughter from near Perth, Scotland and my first career was in the Scottish seed potato industry after growing up on the family farm and helping my father with his seed potato crops. I moved to Peathill after I met my husband Ross and we married in 2008. Prior to setting up Summerhouse Drinks I ran Berry Scrumptious, a fruity, chocolate company which we sold to new owners in October 2014 to be able to concentrate on Summerhouse Drinks.
2. When did you launch Summerhouse Drinks? What drove you to do so?
We launched Summerhouse Drinks in January 2014, driven by the desire to find a soft drink that tasted great but with no artificial ingredients and one that was made locally. I couldn’t find one I like that was made in Scotland so I made one myself.
3. Are your drinks made with all natural ingredients? Are the ingredients local?
All our drinks are made with natural ingredients, no artificial colours or preservatives and we pasteurise so that we don’t use artificial preservatives. We grow as many of the botanicals that we use as we can including mint, lavender and rosemary to name a few.
4. Why did you decide to create a tonic water? How does it feel to be Scotland's first tonic water?
We discovered last year that our Hint O’ Mint lemonade goes brilliantly with gin and that got us to thinking about making a tonic water. It is quite a responsibility to have made Scotland’s first tonic water as 70% of gin consumed in the UK is made in Scotland.
5. Are you a gin fan? Do you enjoy a good G&T? What other cocktails, drinks and gin cocktails do you enjoy?
I love a good G&T but also love a Lavender Whisky Sour made with our Lavender Lemonade.
6. What do you produce on Manse Farm? Do you sell it mostly locally?
We produce spring barley and have beef cattle on the farm. We also have one of the largest populations in the UK of Cornbunting wild birds and work with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to maintain their population.