We caught up with Martin from Clarence Spirits.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Martin Summers, born and raised in the North East of England, just outside of Newcastle and one half of the Clarence Spirits Team. My business partner is my wife Julie who is originally from Leicester and raised in Norfolk.
When did you get into spirit making?
We launched Clarence Spirits Limited in October 2018 after six months of “should we or shouldn’t we,” we decided we should. Our first drink was realised in December 2018: St Mary’s Premium Gin, which was then followed by St Mary’s Premium Vodka and St Mary’s Premium Rum.
When did you start your business and why?
Clarence Spirits Limited was created back in October 2018 based on the idea of “why not?” Whilst running a successful restaurant (that we owned at the time) and having just finished a gruelling evening function and gasping for a drink, we sat down and thought a Gin and Tonic would hit the spot. However, with over 150 gins to choose from (and most of them being flavoured) Julie and I settled for wine instead and we discussed why there is not a gin that is so smooth and subtle that you can drink it by itself just with ice – and then if you want to mix it up, add a flavour tonic (and not have to worry if your flavoured gin would match the right tonic). That is where the “why not?” came along. At the time, we did not have a name or even an idea of which ingredients to choose but we knew what we wanted to achieve. After a few nos we finally had it. Our gin is very well balanced, has a slight citrus taste and an aroma from the grapefruit zest, but most importantly its perfectly balanced to serve over ice.
How has lockdown affected your business?
We could look at lockdown and 2020 as the year we lost all our commercial trade for nearly nine months and sat back and battened down the hatches, but we decided to go the opposite way. We undertook a relaunch in May with our branding, bottle design and slight tweak of the recipe as well as the launch of St Mary’s Premium Rum.
The lockdown has made us appreciate, now more than ever, that we must help and support the small and independent businesses. We also try to work with similar and likeminded businesses including stockists who retail the St Mary’s Range, and that is why we focus on small independent businesses who we can work with and develop alongside us.
What do you love most about spirits?
The fact that we have made all our range to be so smooth and subtle so you can enjoy them on the rocks or you can make your perfect serve how you want it.
What do you love most about the north?
We love the North East of England for several reasons: the beautiful coastline, the people, the fact you can be in a city then in ten minutes in the countryside or next to a castle. We both feel passionately about the beautiful seaside town of Whitley Bay after living there for many years – we thought the name had to be Whitley Bay based and there is nothing more famous than the lighthouse and island St Mary’s. The next task was to make the appearance of the bottle as beautiful as St Mary’s Lighthouse and that’s where the idea of the picture of the lighthouse appearing inside each bottle came from, and it would change in accordance with the season the gin was batched in.
How can Style-and-Wear readers support you?
We would be grateful if the readers would visit our social media pages/website, follow us and spread the word. We try to ensure that we are the one stop solution for perfect drinks: you can buy the spirits, glasses, garnish, mixers, straws and ice cubes in one place knowing that you are supporting a small independent business as well as the businesses we work alongside.