Designed specifically to complement whisky, bourbon and rum, the brand’s lower sugar drinks in Ginger Lime, Blood Orange and Island Spice contain all natural ingredients with recipes that give full rein to the spirits’ individual notes. While the drinks market’s innovation focus has been primarily on gin, “nothing much has changed in the way we consume dark spirits,” say Long Tail’s founders Alex Jollivet and Tom Wiggett who launched their brand last year. Seeing an under-catered for sector in need of its own tonic, their response was “to offer new and exciting ways to enjoy brown spirits”.
“We’re the first UK alternative to the standard over-powering, over-sweetened choices that drown out their flavours,” they explain.
First year turnover is forecast to be £70,000, with 20 per cent month on month growth now as the business broadens its distribution to on-trade, retail and online through Amazon Prime.
A Caribbean holiday was the concept inspiration for the 29-year-old lifelong friends. “We’re big fans of dark spirits and noticed the inventive combinations bars were serving,” says Wiggett who manages the marketing and sales side.
On return they took to the kitchen table to devise recipes. “We got a heap of fresh fruit, spices, bitters and applied a SodaStream. The tastes we achieved were surprisingly good,” adds Jollivet, in charge of financials.
Since those R&D days the drinking public’s demand for more choices, recognising different palates and taste preferences, has increased along with their health consciousness.
That has led to Long Tail (around £1.50 a bottle) reaching a wider range of customers than it first envisaged.
“We have become an adult soft drinks brand that people drink anyway, for instance pregnant women,” says Jollivet.
“The age range of clients has been bigger than we expected. We thought our base would be 18-40, but it’s more like 18 to 80 plus. That’s because our drinks play well in the home entertainment market.”
The pair, who are the only employees so far in this is their first business, have self funded, investing over £50,000 and adopting a UK-based outsourcing model.
Their key expert partner is Brighton-based Liquid Fusion, a beverage development consultancy and contract bottler.
“Their services and market know-how prove how far Britain’s craft drinks industry has come,” says Wiggett.
Now partnering with 10 drinks brands, Long Tail expects to seek up to £500,000 of external investment and additional expertise this year. This will fund growth, new products, tastings and bar staff training.
“Through Long Tail,” says Jollivet, “people are seeing in dark spirits in a new light.”