Bitter & Sweet UK hand crafted English Vermouth

by Benjamin de Vos in London, Greater London, England

£888

raised of £20,000 target

21

supporters
4% 2 days left
This project will only be funded if at least £20,000 is pledged by December 18th 2018 at 1:03pm

To make a handcrafted Vermouth with English wine in London and botanicals from the Lea Valley.

by Benjamin de Vos in London, Greater London, England

The Story:

My journey to discovering the hidden gem within the drinks world emerged from a love of gin and drinks making. Vermouth, always an essential ingredient on any bar and in many cocktails, almost omnipotent, became a favourite to enhance and deliver a mouthwatering quality to the drinks I was serving, and with that, I discovered more about this flavoursome bed partner of many classic cocktails.

What is vermouth you may ask? Vermouth's history begins somewhere in antiquity, ancient China and Greece both have written testimony of wine being flavoured with wormwood. Although today's association with vermouth, is with its appetite enhancing qualities, the inclusion of wormwood and many of the other ingredients in wine were in the name of health. These early beginnings would’ve been medicinal with vermouth's commercial success beginning around the city of Turin, sometime in the late 19th century.  The availability of wine and a wide variety of botanicals ensured vermouth's success in Europe; today's market is worth billions and an estimated rise to around 19 billion USD by 2021.

After over twenty years of industry experience, I had decided to take a passion to the next level, to take my experience and knowledge to create a brand of English vermouth. In recent years, from working with gin and gin distillers I had created a handful of recipes for my own vermouth to be used to add bespoke quality to my drinks and menus. With these recipes, I started to fashion a flavour profile that would eventually become what I make today, a dry style white vermouth and a sweet vermouth, both of which have thirteen botanicals, not all being identical.  As these styles developed, I tested them on my clients to find out where and how they would sit in the greater world of vermouth. I didn’t get any complaints and some of the compliments were good enough to convince me that I should push on and have a go at this.

Recipes and Botanicals

Over the past two years, I have refined these recipes, discovered new suppliers and found a winery in London to supply the English wine base on which the vermouth sits. I spend a lot of time in the Lea Valley and Epping Forest; a place I discovered has many of the botanicals I use, primarily Wormwood, more exactly, Mugwort, Artemisia Vulgaris. Apart from helping with expenses, I liked the idea that my main component was available to me just up the road, about two miles away; restocking should be only a matter of self-motivation.

Along with hand-picked Wormwood, I also hand pick Bay leaves from the Brittany coastline in northern France, a place I have spent many summer holidays, and thus I felt that it had earned a place in the list of botanicals for my vermouth.

After adding and taking away ingredients and trying fortification with brandy, vodka, barrel ageing, steeping, tincture, and other methods, I settled on one, which gave me the desired effect and kept the consistency of the product in hand. Sometimes simplicity creates its own complexity and with the methods, I had chosen this was certainly true. I didn’t want to rewrite the book I wanted to create a product which had a respect for the past and a place in the now and future.

Buy Local

One of the hardest parts of the process was finding a wine supplier or winemaker, who could supply me with English wine without sending the production cost into a vintage of its own, who was also happy to engage with me and in some ways be a part of the process.  I am lucky enough to be buying my wine from Blackbook winery in Wandsworth, just south of the river by a spit.  Here, Sergio creates his wines in the midst of the bustle of the city, using English grapes sourced from as little as 20 or 30 miles away. For me, it was an important step to be involved with a local winemaker and also to be able to say that I use English wine, not British wine or to use grapes grown from without the U.K.

The Brand

Creating a brand is no mean feat and without the proper finances to fund it, its creation will depend on largely who you know and what or how can they help. I am incredibly lucky to know some very talented people without whom I couldn’t have hoped to get this far. This help has come in the form of graphic design, accountancy, photography and some film and web work. I have been able to create, in part, some of the brand and run enough tester batches for professional tasting to know I have something really worth pushing to the next level.

The name Bitter & Sweet UK came from the main flavour profiles of the drinks I make and the style of drink vermouth and aperitif are the combinations of bitter and sweet flavours. I decided on using the number of botanicals as a name of sorts, to indicate the brand of vermouth. 

The Products

13 Botanicals Dry Vermouth is made to enhance a martini, increase appetite before dinner and be the perfect accompaniment to tapas, fish and refreshing small plates. Having burnt lemon zest, bay leaf, tarragon and of course wormwood among its botanicals, with a sweet refreshing citrusy yet bitter profile. 

13 Botanicals Sweet Vermouth has a cherried bitterness for the perfect finish in a Manhattan or any classic vermouth cocktail. With spicy cherry and orange notes, it's bittersweetness gives way to a herbal finish that leaves the palate wanting more.

What’s next?

To take the brand to the next level, having it ready for sale to the public and to trade, I am looking for £20,000. This will cover setting up a production site, the initial cost of set up, equipment and stock to produce the first batches of vermouth, along with a second batch to keep a momentum.  This will be small batch vermouth and with this, I hope to trade consistently. 

                                              www.bitterandsweetuk.co.uk

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£5 or more

A big thank you!

A thank you on the Bitter & Sweet UK website

£10 or more

A thank you and bespoke menu!

For this donation, you will receive a perfect serve and vermouth cocktail menu and of course a thank you on the Bitter & Sweet UK website.

£15 or more

A thank you and more..

A thank you on the website, a vermouth perfect serve and cocktail menu and 13 Botanicals organic cotton tote bag! UK mainland only.

£20 or more

Sample the product itself!

For this donation receive a 375ml bottle of either sweet or dry 13 Botanicals vermouth, a perfect serve and vermouth cocktail menu and of course a thank you on the website. UK mainland only.

£25 or more

Bottle and bag

For this donation, you will receive a 375ml bottle of either sweet or dry 13 Botanicals vermouth, a perfect serve and vermouth cocktail menu, 13 Botanicals tote bag and a thank you on the website. UK mainland only.

£30 or more

Have a bottle!

For this donation, receive a full 750ml bottle of either sweet or dry 13 Botanicals vermouth, perfect serve and vermouth cocktail menu and a thank you on the website. UK mainland only.

£35 or more

Bottle and Bag

Receive a 750 ml bottle of either sweet or dry 13 Botanicals vermouth, a perfect serve and vermouth cocktail menu, 13 Botanicals tote bag and a thank you on the website. UK mainland only.

£40 or more

Make a request

If you would like to get involved and donate but none of the options fit then contact me to see what we could arrange. I will be happy to consider other options or groups of more or fewer people.

£40 or more

Try both styles!

You will receive a 375ml bottle of sweet and dry 13 Botanicals vermouth, a perfect serve and vermouth cocktail menu, a 13 Botanicals tote bag and a thank you on the Bitter & Sweet UK website. UK mainland only.

£60 or more

Stock up!

For this donation, you will receive a 750ml bottle of dry and a 750ml bottle of sweet 13 Botanicals vermouth, a perfect serve and vermouth cocktail menu, the 13 Botanicals tote bag and a thank you on the website. UK mainland only.

£75 or more

Meet the maker and make your own vermouth!

Come to where 13 Botanicals is made, in London. See how the vermouth is made and sample a cocktail while using tinctures and a wine base to construct your own flavour profile and make a small batch of 375ml of your own vermouth, along with your recipe. Take away a 375ml bottle of either sweet or dry 13 Botanicals, your own batch and carry it all away in a 13 Botanicals tote bag!

£150 or more

Group meet the maker and make your own.

For a group of four. Come and see where 13 Botanicals is made, in London. See how the vermouth is made, enjoy a cocktail while using tinctures and a wine base to construct your own flavour profile and make a 375ml batch of your own vermouth to take away with you and the recipe of course. You will also receive a 375ml bottle of either sweet or dry 13 Botanicals vermouth and tote bag.


Let's make 'Bitter & Sweet UK hand crafted English Vermouth' happen