November HighStreet Hero: Salcombe Gin
Howard Davis and Angus Lugsdin founded Salcombe Gin in 2016 – and are now world-renowned in the gin manufacturing business!
In the space of just a few years, two South Devon businessmen have gone from relaxing at a yacht club with a gin and tonic in their hand to scooping a plethora of worldwide awards!
Howard Davis and Angus Lugsdin founded Salcombe Gin in 2016 – and are now world-renowned in the gin manufacturing business! With listings in over 1,000 stockists in the UK, including Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, Salcombe Gin is a real Devon success story!
When speaking at the Herald Express South Devon and English Riviera Tourism and Hospitality Awards in 2017, Howard told his story as to how the pair shifted from being gin lovers, to gin makers!
“Salcombe is a beautiful place and I have been going there my whole life. I learnt to sail there and started teaching sailing there, and it was where I met Angus, my partner in the business.
After a tough day of sailing on the water it was important that we would wind down so what we would normally do is go to the yacht club and the first thing we would do was to order a nice gin and tonic and reminisce over the events of the day.”
This was initially where the seed of the idea for Salcombe Gin came from. Both Howard and Angus got older and focused on their separate careers but always had a passion and desire to create something of their own, in the place that they love.
He continued: “We always had an interest in gin – primarily in the consumption side – but we got talking, decided to quit our corporate careers, and decided to see if we could make Salcombe Gin happen.
“The first thing to do to try and start the business was to go to Scotland and spent a week touring distilleries. We did a week there learning what we needed to. Then we started making some gin and made our first cut, and over the next 18 months continued the recipe process.
“The process involved distilling a few bottles of a gin each day and then about four o’clock, gin o’clock, we did a blind tasting of the gins then, and then the next day we would create a few more bottles of gin… and this went on for about 18 months. At the start gin o’clock was 4pm – by the end it was 9.30am in the morning!”
“We had public gin-tasting evenings and we were never short of volunteers! We did blind tastings with friends and family, to try and make sure that we had the recipe right and create the perfect gin.”
“We also had to create a business plan and raise the investment for the business and we had to get the branding right. We spent a lot of time getting all of that right and at the same time found some amazing premises in Salcombe to make a bespoke design and premises in the heart of Salcombe”.
In March 2017 the pair added some extra strings to their business bows, expanding their business by opening a gin school (the only one in the world that is accessible by boat). Customers join Howard and Angus for half a day to have a go at making (and most importantly tasting) gin. Howard remarked that the whole experience is “almost as much fun for us as them”.
In addition, the pair also run and gin delivery service, where the pair deliver gin hampers to yachts around Salcombe and Dartmouth harbour by powerboat!
Starting on the sunny seaside of Salcombe harbour, the pair are now pulling international punches. Having achieved strong export growth, shipping products to the likes of the US, Middle East, China, Singapore and across Europe, the company has attracted investment from the likes of Sophie Cornish co-founder of notonthehighstreet.com.
In 2020 the company recruited former Diageo president (the multi-national alcoholic beverage company with brands such as Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker & Scotch Whisky) Dr Nick Blazquez as Chairman. In April of this year, they launched a £5 million crowdfunding campaign to fund it’s global growth ambitions. A similar process took place in 2019 when S&D co reached its crowdfunding target in less than 24 hours, which helped the company achieve 100 percent growth over the last two years.
This helped the company achieve 100 per cent growth over the last two years, as well as launch both its Salcombe Gin and New London Light brands in the US and create the world’s first distillery at sea.
Chairman Dr Nick Blazquez says: “Co-founders Angus Lugsdin and Howard Davies have built a strong business with good brands and a great team. I’m looking forward to seeing Salcombe Gin and New London Light, in even more outlets across the UK and indeed the world.”
Davies added: “Angus and I started the business in 2016 and in the last six years I’m really proud to say we’ve grown rapidly, with an increase in turnover of 100 percent in the past two years despite the global pandemic.
The funds raised in The Taste of Tomorrow Starts Today crowdfunding campaign will allow us to take our exceptional tasting Salcombe Gin and New London Light to an even greater audience, building on partnerships we’ve already established and creating exciting new ones.
We have high ambitions for continued rapid growth and with Nick in the position of chairman, as well as this current round of funding, we have absolutely no doubt that these goals will be met.”