Distinctly Gin launched in South Devon by former musician Laurance Traverso
PUBLISHED: 16:07 11 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:17 11 January 2019
Former musician Laurance Traverso has picked childhood memories and created a local gin business, Distinctly Gin. KATE WILLIAMS finds out how
“The romance of the story was taking memories from our childhood and throwing them in a bottle - picking apples at my grandmother’s and helping her make elderflower champagne!”
Once a successful signed musician with two albums under his belt, Laurance Traverso has had a career U-turn, launching a locally sourced and made artisan gin company.
Living in South Devon, Laurance first came up with the idea at a gin-tasting evening.
He explains: “As with all of the best ideas, this one came over a drink. I was at a gin tasting - when it was a rarity - with my wife and we’d gone through two or three sample gins and I turned to my wife and said, ‘I am going to do this’.
“She wasn’t impressed! I think she thought I’d had too many. I spoke to the organisers, got the number of a master distiller and started the journey the very next day.
“The week after I spoke to my friend, Kes Osborne, about getting involved and he jumped at it.
“He is Dartmouth born and bred, and it seemed to be the right place to set up the business. At the time there was very little competition.”
Laurance, who has lived all over the world but grew up in South Devon, started thinking about local ingredients and what was accessible in the area. Apples and elderflower were the two ingredients that he and Kes were drawn to and eventually they achieved a botanical mix they were proud of for Distinctly Gin.
After creating a bottle design based on Dartmouth’s strengths, the pair bravely shared it on social media. Laurance says: “The response was overwhelming. Then we had to launch.
“There was a fantastic buzz about what we were doing and people were asking for the product before we had our first 100 litres bottled.”
Family obligations have meant Kes is now a shareholder but Laurance runs the company.
Laurance says: “Since I left university I’ve always been self-employed - not always successfully! My wife and friends tell me I’d be unemployable. This is the closest I’ve ever come to real work and it is hard, but I really love doing it.
“I think I survived on a level of hyper-adrenaline for about six months pre-launch. All of my available time is spent running Distinctly Gin. If I had any spare time at all, I might consider a little sleep!
“We’re not sure how long this gin thing will go on for but we are expanding into new places all the time.
We’re now talking to wholesalers in Switzerland, Spain and as far as Bermuda! Time will tell where this story will take us but we’re happy to be along for the ride.”
Hunts at Stoke Gabriel have been growing apples in their orchards for 200 years and there’s been elderflower in the hedgerow in Devon as long as history can remember.
Laurance talked to Richard Hunt about the idea to create the gin and he was more than helpful in supplying the apples Distinctly Gin needed for its development.
Head grounds keeper at Greenway House, Simon, was also keen to help and he went in search of elderflower for the project straight away.