A non-alcoholic gin and tonic in a bottle is to be launched into the on-trade to meet growing demand for high-quality soft drinks.
The Duchess is made with re-distilled juniper berries and a botanically infused tonic water, with a blend of orange peel, allspice, star anise, cloves and cardamom, to give a distinctive gin and tonic taste.
It was launched last year in South Africa, where it is made, and will be introduced in the UK in September through premium drinks specialist Love Drinks, available in 275ml bottles. However, samples will be available on the Love Drinks stand at Imbibe Live in London on July 3 and 4.
Kirsty Loveday, chief executive of Love Drinks, said: “Increasingly, we are seeing that people are becoming sober curious. According to a report by the Office for National Statistics launched this year, the proportion of men and women aged between 25 and 44 who don’t drink has increased by more than 47% over a 10-year period.
“At Love Drinks, we felt that there was an opportunity to bring into our portfolio a great-tasting drink that addressed that rise. Once we tried The Duchess, we knew that it would be a perfect addition and a viable option for those choosing not to drink alcohol, whatever their reason.”
The Duchess was developed by Johannes Le Roux, a Cape Town native with a background in advertising and brand launches, in partnership with Inus Smuts, a long-time friend and collaborator.
Johannes said: “The Duchess was created for the conscious consumer – the healthy and discerning individual. Whether at a business lunch or being the designated driver, for personal or religious reasons, in South Africa, as with the UK, more and more people are choosing alcohol-free options, but don’t want drinks that have a high sugar content. Creating an alcohol- and sugar-free drink addresses this need.
“Obviously the taste was the number-one priority – the drink had to taste exactly like an alcoholic version of a gin and tonic – and we tried many variants before going with the liquid we have now.
“One of our secret ingredients is the botanicals that we add to the tonic water – the botanicals were formulated by my aunt, a local botanist, who often experiments with herbs and botanicals found in South Africa. Once she added a few drops of the botanicals, we knew that the flavour was perfect.
“The name for the drink comes from the people who first produced gin, the Dutch, and we wanted to give the drink a regal, premium association, hence the reference to royalty.”
The design of the bottle and branding was created in partnership with Fanakolo, a design studio in Stellenbosch. Using delicate linear drawings, the botanicals form the framework of The Duchess’ visual, with The Duchess herself featuring as the elegant figurehead – the “mysterious and sophisticated” woman who has become the representation of the brand.
Love Drinks is the UK distributor of other premium brands including El Dorado Demerara Rum, Goslings Rums, Hayman’s Gin, Four Pillars Gin and Mr Black Cold Press Coffee Liqueur.