The Reformed Spirits Company Ltd., London, England, UK
Martin Miller is
a true entrepreneur and has numerous successful ventures to his name: Author,
Photographer, Hotelier and Concert Organiser; he is best known for his Miller’s
Antique Price Guides. With an estimated fortune of $60 million he has
concentrated on activities that interest him and it was perhaps only a matter
of time before he made a foray into the world of Gin.
Summer 1997 found him in a bar having a lacklustre Gin & Tonic with two friends, which acted as the catalyst for discussing the possible creation of a Gin. Martin was in the right company: David Bromige has a background in developing new drink products for large companies (including Diageo and Pernod Ricard); and Andreas Versteegh runs an investment company. David and Andreas were already working on their own project – Polstar Vodka, made in Denmark but bottled in the little fishing village of Borgarnes, in Iceland.
The discussion went along the lines of: “If money were no object” what would one do “to create a modern classic, a gin for everyone who can appreciate fine gin” where it would “have the scent of oriental flowers at dusk and the fragrance of orange groves on a warm night in Seville.” Using the back of an envelope they started outlining how to go about doing this. One of the many ideas was to use very soft Icelandic water, as they had found it had worked wonders on the Vodka by reducing the harshness of the alcohol on both the nose and palate.
So, off they went and recruited Langley Distillery in the Midlands to help develop the Gin’s recipe. When they had identified what they thought was a great recipe, they invited trade professionals to Westbourne (Martin’s base in Notting Hill, London) to blind sample a range of their recipes. To their relief, the professionals confirmed their preferred choice of recipe also. 18 months of painstaking work resulted in the first batch being ready for production. With worst-case scenario in mind – they would end up with a personal lifelong supply of Gin they liked - they launched this Gin in early 1999.
It is worth noting; in 1999 the sales of Gin – perhaps with the exception of Bombay Sapphire (launched in 1986) - were at a very low ebb and thus, launching a modern styled Gin was a serious gamble and proved to be pioneering. Sales were slow to start and their focus was still on Polstar Vodka, which was finally sold to William Grant & Sons (of Hendrick’s Gin fame) in 2002. In 2003 this Gin was launched in the USA and it wasn’t until 2006 that overall sales started to improve. By 2008 sales amounted to 40,000 cases per annum and continued increasing such that by 2012, sales had reached 150,000 per annum across 40 plus countries. In 2013, after an initial attempt back in 2003, they finally managed to secure a deal to sell their Gin through a national (UK) grocery chain store. With sales expected to increase dramatically, their business aim now is to try and outsell Hendrick’s Gin.