New drinks agency launches with gin, rum and whisky

Willem Barentsz

A new company specialising in premium spirits has been launched by leading drinks industry figures, aiming to build a variety of brands in the UK.

Tortuga Brands is headed by managing director Gary Hazell and board director Peter Davie who both have many years of success in the UK and international drinks industry between them.

It will be a sales, marketing and distribution agency representing spirits clients in the on- and off-trade in the UK as well as offering a wider global distributor network for brands.

Several premium brands have already made Tortuga Brands their exclusive distributor, including Willem Barentsz Gin, which was created four years ago by Michael Claessens. It is made in London but inspired by a Dutch explorer, using botanicals including jasmine and almonds.

Tortuga has also taken on the Dark Matter portfolio from Scotland, led by its successful Spiced Rum and also including Chocolate Orange and Rhubarb Liqueurs.

Aside from spirits, the portfolio also includes Xeco Sherry which was launched in the UK last year as a modern sherry brand promoted for mixing as well as an aperitif.

Tortuga will also officially introduce The Blue Beetle London Dry Gin and its sister brand Raven Rare Blended Scotch Whisky to the UK in an exclusive distribution agreement with Leomar.

The company is looking to expand its portfolio across the premium spirits categories such as malt whisky, cognac, tequila and vodka.

Gary said: “I’m delighted to be taking the helm at Tortuga Brands and we’re thrilled to have a range of hand-picked super-premium brands on board already.

“Our ethos is to nurture growing brands by getting them to market quickly and in the most appropriate way, whilst making the most of our excellent global contacts taking brands into international markets.

“We’re looking to expand our sales and marketing team in the UK and are actively recruiting recognised individuals in the industry to support our premium brand development.”

Tortuga Brands’ headquarters are at The Vintry in Ilford in east London, sharing administrative resource with other drinks companies including spirits distributor Mangrove.

The company takes its name from the Spanish word for turtle. With an interest in the marine environment, Gary chose it as a fitting symbol for a business with global reach and planned longevity because the turtle frequently migrates over large distances and has a long lifespan.

Gary has 34 years’ experience in the drinks industry in the development of premium spirits. He started his career in design and marketing and saw a gap in the market for a drinks agency with marketing credentials, launching DNA Liquid Solutions.

He has also worked with Distilled Brands and Purity Vodka as well as The Glenrothes single malt whisky at Berry Bros & Rudd where he worked with Peter Davie. Gary most recently worked on new business development with Franklin & Sons at Global Brands.

Peter has worked in the drinks industry for over 25 years, including roles as global sales director at Berry Bros & Rudd Spirits, delivering growth through business partnerships in over 50 markets.

Peter was the Singapore-based area director for Asia-Pacific for Berry Bros & Rudd and has also managed the region for whisky business Matthew Gloag & Son.

He set up international brand-building agency Black Lab Partners last year with co-founders Jeremy Parsons and Steve Webb who are also directors of Tortuga Brands.

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