Skin & Tonic? CollaGin
Over the last few years there has been an explosion of new gin brands and distilleries, each fighting for your attention using novel and quirky botanicals, from seaweed to saffron to Japanese cherry blossom and watercress.
One ingredient we’ve yet to see included in the process, however, is collagen, but this is all set to change with the release of the aptly named CollaGin, from newly established spirits company Young In Spirit.
The spirits industry has always been (and still is) an embarrassingly male dominated industry, so as part of OX’s celebration of International Women’s Day we caught up with Liz Beswick and Camilla Brown, the brains behind this frankly bizarre combination of beauty and alcohol, to find out more about their product and how to break the “boy’s club” mould.
Hi Liz, hi Camilla. First of all, collagen in gin – why?
CB: “It’s beauty and booze mixed together. We add it in powder form during distillation, and it’s completely odourless, colourless, leaves no sediment and isn’t broken down by alcohol. Science-wise, there’s a hefty amount of collagen in it. It’s marine collagen, which has been proven to rehydrate your skin if you drink it regularly. If you’re already drinking gin, why not do good for your skin at the same time?”
Interesting. What does the gin taste like? What botanicals are in it?
CB: “Apart from the juniper, cardamom and star anise, all of our botanicals have an anti-ageing quality – pink grapefruit, fresh orange, witch hazel and green tea. It’s fragrant, soft, the aftertaste is velvety, and it has a hit of vanilla as well. The one thing we noticed is amongst people who say that they don’t normally enjoy gin that much is that they can drink it straight-up on ice. It’s a very smooth drink.”
Where is CollaGin distilled?
CB: “Langley’s in Birmingham. We were thinking of going a bit more local, but we love Langley’s. It’s a family-run business and the oldest copper gin still in the world.”
LB: “We also love working with other strong women in the industry, so our distillers are women. Gin is very much a male-dominated industry. We want to get more girls involved and make it a bit more of a welcoming environment. We’ve come up against quite a few of these “gentlemen” who we thought would be pleasant, but actually talk over you and don’t think you actually understand the game because you’re a woman.
Does the spirits industry often feel like a boy’s club?
LB: “In terms of what we’ve come across, yes.”
CB: “When we met out first distiller – and I won’t name names – I had a conversation with him on the phone and it was like getting blood out of a stone, but as soon as I passed him onto our old colleague, who was a man, he suddenly got all the information we needed. It’s almost like you have to prove your knowledge in some way if you’re a woman.”
LB: “Once, when I called up a supplier to ask for details and timings of a delivery, I think they assumed that I was a PA and started asking me who my client is and who they would be dealing with. I said ‘I am the client’, and suddenly the tone changed. I was fuming. I’ve been shocked by the industry. Even at gin fairs, just as a consumer, I feel a bit spoken-down to as if there’s no way I would know my botanicals and flavours in the gin.”
How do you think is the best way to improve the standing of women in your industry?
LB: “I think it would be lovely if there was some sort of mentoring group where women in the industry could exchange their experiences. I’d love to speak to another spirit brand that’s set up by women. It sounds obvious, but something that everyone wants to be a part of would be fantastic.”
Do you have a female role model that has inspired you in setting up your business?
L: “Sarah Willingham.”
C: “Sarah Willingham, definitely. She invested in a craft gin club that was presented on Dragon’s Den, and she wants our product to be included in that. She gave us so much of her time and is a true inspiration to us. It really gave us the drive to go for it.”
What are your future plans for your fledgling business?
C: “We’re going to be taking this on full-time basically as soon as we launch, and we want to help others whilst doing it. We want five different products within three years and expand into international markets. My dream is to have a spa and bar combo, and to have our own distillery.”
Finally, where can we get a bottle of CollaGin?
C: “We have our first thousand bottles and we’re ready to launch at the beginning of March. Preorders are up on our website now.”
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