Shining a light on an overlooked category
It was 2004 and premium spirits were starting to take off all over the world, but there was a key element missing: mixers were still the same products they’d always been.
“Back then, the mixer category was completely overlooked and dominated by a couple of large brands,” Caroline says. “In stark contrast, consumers were becoming increasingly interested in craft and provenance. It struck our founders, Tim Warrilow and Charles Rolls, as extraordinary that people were spending their money on all these great premium and craft gins but had no choice.”
Adamant that a premium mixer was needed, a business was born – one where there would be no compromise, where they would seek to create the best tonic water to complement all the premium spirits from around the world.
“Flavour and quality were of the utmost importance,” Caroline says. “That meant not using artificial flavours or sweeteners, which were rife in the market at the time. This mindset led them on an 18-month adventure from the archives of the British Library to facing the wrong end of a Kalashnikov in the Democratic Republic of Congo and concluded with the launch of our Premium Indian Tonic Water in 2005.”
Fever-Tree still operates by that mindset to this day. They live and breathe the idea that they can – and must – go to the ends of the earth in pursuit of the best.
Staying ahead in a crowded market
There’s no denying that the mixer space today is unrecognisable to when Fever-Tree began. The amount of competition is incredible, and the team at Fever-Tree understand that to stay relevant – and top-of-mind – among consumers, they need to constantly innovate and only develop the finest-quality products.
“It comes down to quality and innovation,” Caroline says. “Our uncompromising approach to quality takes us to find the very best ingredients for our products. We believe there is no other company going to the lengths we do to source these ingredients.”
In addition to Fever-Tree’s range of tonic waters that complement the sheer diversity of gin’s flavour categories, Catherine says they’ve also put their blood, sweat and tears into crafting a number of other mixers.
“We've found three incredibly diverse varieties of ginger that, together, create a remarkably deep, fresh and true taste, which we've used to make a selection of ginger ales and ginger beer,” she says. “We've developed a recipe for cola using Madagascan vanilla with the single purpose to bring out the best in dark spirits, like whiskies and rum. We have lemonades using the finest, naturally sourced ingredients and a beautifully simple soda water too.
“We continue to innovate to supplement the world’s best spirits, as consumers increasingly experiment with different spirits.”
The “three-quarters” rule
There’s a saying that’s very well-known around the halls of Fever-Tree HQ, and it will continue to ring true so long as quality gin is being crafted: if three-quarters of your drink is the mixer, mix with the best.
“You need to go back to the question that Charles and Tim had when they first started: why would you spend good money on a bottle of Tanqueray or Hendrick’s gin, but not have a premium mixer to go with it?” Catherine asks.
“We have seen firsthand in many markets that quality has broad appeal – people are wanting to drink better-quality spirits in greater numbers, and moving towards simple, long mixed drinks with premium mixers. Moreover, there are no signs of stopping the gin boom – it’s not just a case of consumers drinking more, but also younger consumers entering the category with flavoured gin with its sweeter profile.”
Whatever they’re doing at Fever-Tree, it’s working. And by exuding the mindset of their founders – to never compromise on quality – their reign at the top of the mixer space looks secure.
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