This March, Craft Gin Club members get to be part of something amazing!!! The One ‘Sage and Apple’ Gin they’re receiving in their Gin of the Month box does so much to support The One Foundation, and its mission to provide clean water to people around the world. Discover the story behind this truly life-changing gin, and help us to fundraise for The One Foundation through our JustGiving page!
Duncan Goose was in the pub back in 2013 when he first heard the figure: 1 billion people, at that very moment, were without access to safe and clean water.
It staggered him. How could a billion people – an eighth of the globe – lack access to a material so essential for life? A billion people unable to brush their teeth safely, to count on their ability to wash, to quench their own or their children’s thirst without risking serious illness or even death? A billion people who had to dedicate dozens of hours every week to collecting or sanitising water, when they could have been studying or starting a business or playing with their children?
The human implications were immense – and Duncan, fresh back from a motorbiking trip around the world, had seen some of them first hand. He decided that day to do something.
“It’s impossible to try and change a billion people’s lives,” he explains. “But if I can change one person’s life, if I can stop one child dying of disease, if I can stop one mother from walking for four or five hours to collect water, if I can get a child into school, if I can help a family, we should try and do that.”
Since that day, Duncan’s brainchild – The One Brand – has revolutionised the way business and charity can work together in the UK. It’s raised over £19 million, promised to hit £20 million by 2020 and supported water projects all over the world. Most excitingly for gin fans, The One Brand also launched an award-winning spirit that gives back with every bottle – and now, with the One ‘Sage & Apple’ Gin in Craft Gin Club’s March Gin of the Month box, Duncan and his organisation have started a new chapter that will change even more lives. But he needs your help.
“This isn’t something that I’ve done,” Duncan smiles. “It’s something that we’ve done. Every single person that’s been associated with this brand, whether it’s Craft Gin Club members enjoying a gin and tonic, or someone buying a water bottle, or someone tweeting about us, they’re all people that are changing people’s lives. And we’re just a conduit to making that happen, in a really simple way.”
Huge changes, Duncan says, start with small actions. For example, the spectacular gin in Craft Gin Club’s March box began with a motorbike.
After a career in the London marketing industry, Duncan needed a break. And so, like so many adventurous spirits before him, he quit his job, sold his flat and bought a motorbike. He was planning on a three-month odyssey across the United States and Canada but, he laughs, “Inevitably things happen when you start going on an adventure.”
One of those things was a tragic accident. Duncan was driving along the highways of rural Canada early one morning when he hit a deer. He was thrown from his motorcycle and landed in a ditch on the side of the road. All he could hear was silence.
He says: “While you’re sort of lying there, thinking about … you know, no one knows where I am, I’m in quite a remote place, and if I’ve broken my neck and I stand up, what’s going to happen? You’re faced with these really odd decisions, and you can’t just stay there forever.”
Fortunately, Duncan was discovered after just a few hours and taken to a small town nearby, where he spent time healing and rebuilding his bike, with an eye to continuing his travels.
“The community there really took me under their wing,” he smiles. “They rebuilt my motorbike using scooter parts, patched me and my clothes together and helped me get back on the road.”
Where some might have been scared off the idea of carrying on their travels, Duncan was energised by the sense of community he’d found after his accident. Bike pieced back together, and body healed, he got back on the road – which is how he found himself in Central America, just as a tropical storm and hurricane closed the country of Honduras in a vice of destruction.
“The destruction in Honduras was immediate and enormous,” Duncan says. “It was really going to bed one day and waking up to Armageddon-level destruction the next.”
The international community leapt into action, sending helicopters full of aid supplies to the devastated country. But even in the flood of aid, one thing remained elusive: fresh water. Even Duncan, with his international connections, couldn’t get hold of bottled water.
He explains: “It was bonkers, but it’s just part of that upside-down world. Nothing really makes a great deal of sense.” But, as so often in impossible situations, he saw foreigners and locals alike band together to get through the chaos.
“There is no ‘mine’, ‘ours’,” he says. “There’s just this unity, people coming together to solve a problem, to look after each other.”
By the time Duncan came back to London, and his career in marketing and branding, he was glad to be back. But he couldn’t shake the things he’d seen.
He says: “I didn’t come back a hippy wanting to change the world. I came back with a kind of passion for brands and marketing, which was where I’d left it. But I also wanted to figure out if there was more that I could do.”
By combining his business skills with his passion for bringing communities together, Duncan discovered that he could make more change than he ever thought possible.
The year Duncan started One Water, a bottled water brand that worked with its charity partner The One Foundation, to fund water projects in the developing world, there were a billion people without access to safe, clean water. But nobody he spoke to about his project thought a brand of bottled water could make a difference.
As Duncan says, “I thought well, I’ve not got anything to lose, but it would be nice to try and prove people wrong.”
To say he’s done just that would be a wild understatement.
Now stocked in World Duty Free, Starbucks and on all Virgin Atlantic flights, One Water has helped The One Foundation raise more than £19 millions by committing its profits directly to the foundation – they’ve pledged to raise £20 million by 2020.
But the bottled water brand Duncan started after his travels hasn’t done it all alone. Alongside the donations of generous individuals and conscientious corporations, The One Foundation has recently found support from a somewhat unlikely corner: gin lovers!
It was Ian Spooner, a friend and colleague of Duncan’s, who first had the idea to make a gin spirit to support The One Foundation.
As he explains, “We started to explore opportunities in the drinks space that would help us reach our £20 million by 2020 target. I started looking at the gin market and very quickly realised that there wasn’t much going on from a charity perspective.”
Ian immediately saw the potential of launching a gin – a spirit of which a major component, of course, is water – to support The One Foundation in a major way. And, as long-standing gin enthusiasts who had for many years undertaken the search for the best Martini in London, Duncan and Ian started on their quest to make an exceptional spirit like no other.
“We knew we wanted to create something different,” Ian says.
As a gin connoisseur himself, Ian had seen the rise of pink gins; he had tried flavoured gins and floral gins and citrus gins galore. But in all their sampling, he had never seen a savoury gin that had really impressed him.
He also wanted to make a gin that was quintessentially British in flavour, but which included botanicals from all over the world. He began to investigate the flavours of the British hedgerow, sampling fruits and herbs to make the centrepiece of the gin’s flavour profile. One stuck out immediately: velvety sage.
Ian says, “Having tried a few other botanicals, we were just blown away with how good it was and how different it was to what else was out there.”
One Gin’s inaugural spirit made its debut at World Duty Free stores in March 2017, the month of World Water Day. It was fitting for a gin that had pledged to fund life-changing water projects.
Following the success of One Water, Duncan and Ian hoped for the best for their gin. But the feedback they got on One Gin was beyond their wildest expectations. When they submitted One Gin to the International Wine and Spirits Competition six months later, it was one of 379 gins. One Gin would emerge with a gold medal, one of just 20 to do so.
“When the gin won an IWSC Gold, we nearly fell off our chairs,” laughs Duncan, “because that kind of doesn’t happen. To be rewarded in that way was just incredible, it was a huge win.”
When it came to crafting the special edition gin in your March Gin of the Month box, Ian knew that they wanted to stick with the beautiful botanical base that had made their original liquid so compelling and memorable.
Ian explains, “We wanted to use the original sage gin as a platform but add an interesting twist. We simply started looking at what goes really well with sage – there were a few jokes about sage and onion!”
Sage and onion didn’t make the cut, but another classic flavour combination became the beautiful gin in your box this month: sage and apple.
The russet apples in this gin are orchard-fresh and tantalisingly tart, lifting the fragrant sage into a whole new world of flavour. Delicious as a gin and tonic, this gin is also beautiful in bespoke cocktails. And, as a Craft Gin Club member, you’re amongst the first people in the world to try it.
But most beautiful of all is the amazing impact this gin – and you, by extension – will have on the communities whose lives will be changed by every One ‘Sage & Apple’ Gin and tonic you enjoy.
Perhaps it sounds trite or strange to say that, by enjoying a gin and tonic in the luxury of your own home, you’re helping to change the lives of families in Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana and Malawi, places you may have only seen on a map or a David Attenborough documentary.
Or maybe you’ve travelled to some of these places and seen first-hand the women of sub-Saharan Africa, who spend 16 million hours collecting water each day. Or observed how in Kenya, where The One Foundation supports several local water initiatives, women spend 4.5 hours every week collecting water – time they could spend working, studying, pursuing their interests, relaxing or enjoying time with their families.
The statistics are overwhelming; the numbers are mind-boggling. But the solution isn’t swearing off shopping forever or sacking it all in to volunteer abroad. The solution, Duncan thinks, can be infinitely easier. In fact, by mixing up your first One ‘Sage & Apple’ Gin and Tonic, you’ve already contributed.
By donating 10% of its profits directly to The One Foundation, the gin in your March box is directly supporting crucial initiatives that will bring fresh, clean water to the places it’s most needed. No deprivation, no huge lifestyle changes and no charity galas – just a simple choice, made every day, that will change a life on the other side of the globe.
“I don’t think people should feel guilty about not being absolutely on top of everything,” says Duncan. “It would be impossible to do that. But small changes are the things that make a difference. That’s really part of the ethos of One: a single person can never solve the entire issue. But, by helping one person, one day at a time, we’re lifting people up.”
For The One Foundation, there’s incredible power in the butterfly effect: the idea that a little change made on one side of the planet can be a force for change on the other. “Everybody can figure out what the one thing is that they can do,” Duncan says. “Just make that one change. It all adds up into something massive.” The results may surprise you – and Duncan has seen it first-hand.
He explains: “To see a country, particularly one like Rwanda, which has been through such difficult times, with water supplies to homes and schools and hospitals, is just phenomenal. A little bottle of gin, or a little bottle of water, has helped do that. I’m continually amazed by it.”
Here at Craft Gin Club, we’re also amazed by the incredible work being done by The One Foundation and its partners. That’s why we’ve set up a JustGiving page to support their amazing efforts – and, whatever our members donate, we’ll match up to £10,000!
We’ve worked with Vic Steward Todd, Deputy Director of The One Foundation, to come up with lots of amazing ways to help The One Foundation reach their £20m by 2020 goal. But, whether you’re able to contribute or would rather sit this one out, rest assured that every time you choose to make a One Sage and Apple Gin and tonic, you’re making a difference – and a cracking drink, of course!
As Ian smiles: “It tastes great, and it changes people’s lives at the same time. All of the lives that will change because of this special edition won’t be down to me or Duncan or Vic, or the rest of the team, they’ll be down to Craft Gin Club members.”