Wild spirits innovators Buck & Birch celebrate lockdown sales surge

Co-founders Rupert Waites and Tom Chisholm, of Buck & Birch

Wild flavour alchemists secure national distributor and investment whilst using lockdown to develop their visitor experience and improve sustainability as well as launching nine new products, winning multiple international awards and securing SALSA accreditation.

Multi-award-winning spirits producers and wild flavour alchemists Buck & Birch are toasting a 350% increase in online sales over the last year. The East Lothian-based brand, which curates foraged flavours of the wild and conjures them into unique spirits, liqueurs and ready to drink cocktails has launched nine new products in the past 12 months, picked up a gold and bronze award at the IWSC  for their Amarosa rosehip rum  liqueur and Aelder elderberry liqueur respectively and seen online sales soar.

Success has also seen Buck & Birch partnering with premium national distributor Sip & Savour which will see their products introduced to the very best on and off trade venues across the country.

Creative director and co-founder Tom Chisholm says, “As a small company in the competitive world of drinks and spirits it has been vital for us to partner with a distributor who has the connections, industry knowledge and passion to help us grow our brand. Working with Sip & Savour is hugely exciting and we cannot wait to see where it leads us”

Jamie Walker, Managing Director of Sip & Savour said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Buck and Birch in driving their distribution in the UK. Their philosophy of working in harmony with their environment to create exceptional liquids is inspirational. Tom and Rupert have been challenging the status quo of drinks production for five years and we are honoured to have the opportunity to expand their footprint and spread their philosophy.”

The founders have also developed their beautiful new tasting room at the distillery, in preparation for visitors to come and discover and sample the expanded range along with wild nibbles from their pop up restaurant beginnings. This will also double as the R & D facility for their new consultancy arm of the business which has already seen success over the last 18 months working with various large, international drinks brands.

“It’s such an exciting time for us,” said director Rupert Waites. “It has been a very difficult year for many in business and we too have had our challenges, but we’ve been very fortunate and have seen our online sales really take off and the new consultancy arm of the company proving really popular which has kept us going.

At the Buck & Birch we are fanatical about flavour. Our mission is to create accessible and versatile drinks that are expressions of our landscape and what has been so rewarding over the past year is we have been able to share this with so many people despite the restrictions. If searching for a silver lining as a result of the pandemic I would say it is that people have a new found love for the outdoors and our brand is more relevant to consumers and other businesses as a consequence.”

In the interest of sustainability, the innovative duo has also used the national lock down as an opportunity to refurbish their facility based in Macmerry, using a loan from the Energy Saving Trust to make considerable alterations. This has enabled them to improve their production methods as well as insulating the factory space and installing a new heating system – all to minimise energy usage.

Buck & Birch have also recently secured SALSA accreditation for food safety and production, and have confirmed a premium national distributor, Sip & Savour. The team are now working on a range of new domestic and international projects due to be released later this year to further enhance the business.

With hospitality in lockdown, Tom and co-founder Rupert Waites launched a range of six ready-to-drink wild bottled cocktails last spring, including the Dandy Lion and the Thornstar Martini. They’ve since followed that with an exclusive wild cocktail collaboration with The Botanist gin, their Gibson Martreeni (a birch and wild garlic twist on the classic Gibson) with Miran Chauhan; long term collaborator and now bar manager at the new Johnny Walker experience in Edinburgh, and a collection of three wildflower cocktails with Foraged by Fern, the Sussex-based foraging guide and cook.

2020 was the year that also saw Buck & Birch awarded with the Most Innovative Brand title in the Mid and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce Food & Drink Awards and Best Artisan Spirit 1st runner up in the Scottish Rural Awards for Amarosa which is further testament to the hard work of the entire team.

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