What does Salcombe, gin and ocean sustainability have in common?

This guest blog was written by Howard Davies – Cofounder of Salcombe Distilling Company.

It all starts from my early childhood…. I grew up in North Hampshire only an hour’s drive from the sea and spent annual family holidays on South Devon’s picturesque coast in Salcombe, captivated by its golden sandy beaches and turquoise water (when the sun shined!). It was here that my connection with the sea was first rooted from daily expeditions examining the marine life in numerous rock pools to learning to sail in Salcombe’s estuary in a little ‘Optimist’ dinghy.

My devotion to the sea, adoration for Salcombe and commitment to a lifestyle on and around the water was born here. Before I knew it I was racing sailboats every weekend and my father kindly drove me around the country to any and every waterside location hosting a regatta. It seems that my connection with the coast and Salcombe in particular was also having a similar influence on my parents, who soon moved our family to live in Salcombe on a permanent basis for which I was very happy.

This also provided me with an excellent summer job during my university holidays, when I would come back to Salcombe and teach children to sail at a sailing school called the Island Cruising Club. A day’s teaching was quite intense; trying to corral young children around the estuary whilst attempting to impart some useful seamanship knowledge in the process. Thus at the end of the day it was important to wind down, relax and reflect, which was typically achieved with one of my fellow instructors Angus and I retiring to the local yacht club where we would enjoy a gin and tonic as the sun set over the water.

Roll on about 20 years having experienced a varied and diverse career ranging from Management Consulting in London to teaching sailing and windsurfing in Australia, Greece and the Maldives, I was keen to take on a new challenge. Having remained in touch with Angus, we realised that our combined love of Salcombe and the sea was not all we had in common, we had another shared passion; gin! Salcombe Gin was born… Because the ocean is so important to us both, we have orientated Salcombe Distilling Company around the water; our distillery itself is one of only a few in the world that you can reach by boat and even our gin recipe was inspired by the fruits and spices once imported to the UK aboard Schooner sailing vessels that were built in Salcombe in the 18th century.

Salcombe Gin peanuts

As we have grown as a business, I have become very conscious of our responsibility and duty to evolve our company to act as sustainably as we can. We want to help protect and maintain the precious ocean environment that inspires and drives everything we do. We’ve launched many initiatives ranging from simple concepts like not using plastic straws in our bar, through to working collaboratively with our suppliers to develop cardboard alternatives to the industry standard protective plastic packaging for shipping bottles of gin. Most recently we launched a bottle refill scheme in which customers can bring us their empty bottles of Salcombe Gin and we’ll refill them and reward them with a discount off our retail price – to me this is so much better than the ‘recycling’ of materials; it is the full re-use of a finished product and is a win-win for all involved, including the environment. We hope that other brands will follow in our footsteps.

Salcombe Gin paper

Now, finally (at least for now), whilst proud of many of the initiatives underway I was conscious of the limited reach our actions can have within our own operations and wanted to find a way to deliver positive benefits on a much broader, geographical scale. It is this desire that led to working with the Marine Conservation Society who make positive change on a truly global scale. I am extremely pleased to have this valuable partnership which launches in November 2019 with us making a £1 donation to the charity on every direct sale we make throughout November and December. I’m sure this will lead to more exciting initiatives with the Marine Conservation Society in the future.

Watch this space!