Marcus Black: Capturing the spirit of Harrogate – Drinks International


“Slingsby actually really started in 2014 at our local curry house,” says Black. “We talked about the drinks industry and started sampling the different gins on offer in the restaurant, discussed how the gin market was starting to explode and decided we’d like to launch our own brand of gin inspired from our beautiful home town, Harrogate.

“That was the start of Slingsby. It took us 18 different variations of gin and over 15 months to create the flavor we were looking for. In August 2015, our first batch of Slingsby gin was bottled.

Consumer response was immediate, by Christmas the brand had scooped up listings at Michelin star restaurants and been sourced and sold at Harrods. The brand has since become a mainstay in UK supermarkets nationally and has been listed in Australia and across Europe.

The key to success, says Black, is those 18 attempts over 15 months.

“The key to making a great spirit is in the careful selection of ingredients. We are so lucky to be based in Harrogate, near the world famous aquifer, and to use the water when we distill. Seventeen of the twenty-four botanicals we use in our gin come from our home county of Yorkshire.

“We work closely with the gardeners at Rudding Park who plant and grow plants in their vegetable gardens for us and we use them in our gins. We also source fruit locally, we use rhubarb from the Rhubarb Triangle in Wakefield and currants and blackberries from Balloon Tree Farm in York.

It’s thanks to a sense of place and identity that Black says sets Slingsby apart in the increasingly crowded UK gin market.

“We’ve built a great heritage brand with Slingsby, we’re proud to be based in Harrogate and proud to use local suppliers, but we always knew we wanted to operate globally.

“We have a passionate and experienced team behind the scenes, who have helped create a brand that is not just a drink, it is an aspirational lifestyle brand. We are also passionate about supporting our local community. and are proud to have created jobs for local people, to be able to support local and national charity events and to connect with like-minded businesses.

This societal bond also extends beyond the world of beverages. More and more, the brand interferes in the world of sport. The brand has partnered with Ascot and the BMW PGA Championships and created the Slingsby Golf Academy with the aim of bringing more women into golf.

Slingsby Golf Academy follows four celebrities as they work with a golf professional to learn the game in six months. The latest series featured Olympian Zara Tindall, tennis coach Judy Murray, doctor and TV personality Zoe Williams and Sky Sports Boxing presenter Anna Woodhouse.

“We are preparing for the BMW PGA Championships where we will see the famous winner of our Slingsby Golf Academy compete in the Celebrity Pro-Am, but we will also be serving our gin in branded bars.

“I think we’re the perfect partner for sporting events because the Slingsby brand brings people together.”


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