Auchterhouse Woman Influential in Twisted Sisters DrinksNeil Hardie
A new Scottish drinks brand which is the brainchild of a Tayside woman and her Aberdonian brother-in-law has officially launched to the market.
Ruth Jones, 32, from Auchterhouse in Angus has teamed up with Stuart McPhee to bring their new hard seltzer brand, Twisted Sisters Drinks, to the masses.
Released less than a month ago, the idea has been in the pipeline since last May when Ruth thought up the idea of launching a bottled cocktail business.
The nightclub general manager works at ATIK in Aberdeen and was on furlough for most of last year. Stuart is the director of Aberdeen’s Siberia Bar & Hotel.
As a result of having extra time on her hands, Ruth was able to work on her business plan and was accepted onto Elevator’s Accelerator course where she was introduced to the idea of seltzers by her business advisor.
Seltzers, which is alcoholic carbonated water with a fruit flavouring usually made with gin or vodka, have been growing in popularity in the drinks world, dominating countries like America and Canada recently.
It is predicted to be one of the biggest growth markets in the next few years.
She said: “It has taken around 11 months to get it from start to finish. The idea originally was a bottled cocktail and one of the advisors asked if I had heard of seltzers – I hadn’t.
“I started doing some research and spoke to others and they suggested I did it. No one knew what it was and I thought it would be a good idea after speaking to people in America and Canada who explained how big they were over there.
“Looking at what was on the market, they were quite one dimensional flavours. I wanted to mix it up and I think it has worked quite well.”
Investing £25,000 of their personal finance into Twisted Sisters Drinks, Ruth and Stuart have worked together in the hospitality sector for years and will bring a range of three flavours at 4.6% ABV to the market.
The duo also secured an additional £50,000 of financial investment to get the project off the ground.
Ruth and Stuart committed to canning 30,000 products for their first run and Ruth believes they are the first hard seltzer brand in the UK to have their product on tap.
She added: “It was a huge amount. We launched our pre-sales and we set ourselves a sales target for the month of £1,000. We hit that in three days.
“We are hoping to do a run quarterly. We had some extra stock so we ended up kegging 1,500 litres. We’d always planned on kegging as no one else is doing it with seltzers. It is on draft in Siberia at the minute with a few others looking to take it on. It is served in a 3/4 glass.
“The whole thing has really taken off.
“We canned the first batch in York and we’re now looking at what we do going forward. The company we are meant to be working with in Glasgow have been waiting for their canning line since April, but we’d definitely like to keep it all in Scotland.”
Due to demand the duo have employed a part-time sales executive to push their three flavoured products, as more and more stockists enquire by the day.
Already securing more than 10 accounts, Ruth and Stuart are off to a promising start with the independent firm.
“We’ve got quite a few stockists in Aberdeen and are migrating into Dundee now. It is selling really well in The Bike Yard in Aberdeen and it is so good to see people interested in it,” said Ruth.
“We’ve had multiple repeat orders and some places have made it a permanent feature on their menus. We have 10 in Aberdeen and a few more lined up. There’s The Pier, Cafe Ahoy, Siberia Bar & Hotel, Cheerz, Bardot’s Hammerton Store, The Strong Water Co., Aberdeenshire Larder and more.
“For flavours, rhubarb and ginger was a no brainer. I couldn’t believe no one else had done it. Coconut and lime – I thought they sounded nice together. Blueberry and elderflower was the one I took my time with. I researched different pairings and wanted to see how it worked – it has done really well and is our best seller in the last few weeks.
While the focus for year one and two of the business is to dominate the Scottish and UK market, Ruth says exporting is the focus for year three, with Australia and Europe on her radar.
She added: “Seltzers is such a huge growth market. The growth forecast is insane over the next few years so the potential is quite limitless.
“We’d be looking to Europe, Australia initially for anything abroad, but we’re thinking that will be the focus for year three.”