A little while ago, I set up a ‘NEWS’ section on the site.
The reason for this is as a blogger, I get emails offering press releases on new products or updates. I’m always quite happy to share news, but felt it had to be distinctive from my own writing. For one thing, if I have not tried that gin, I find it difficult to write anything with any confidence as I don’t know what I think for myself. Press releases I get tend to be quite concise, normally an A4 page or so. I always find it very interesting to see how companies approach press releases.
Recently, I received one from North42 Gin. There has been a sight delay in sharing this on my part but I still wanted to. I’ve finally today, read it through properly and I have to say, it’s ever so impressive. Three very detailed documents make up the press release, and in particular, the detail in the document on their story rivals a lot of gin stories I’ve written! I’ll happily hold my hands up to this, it’s wonderful to see a distillery putting so much time and effort into their press releases. I can totally understand why concise releases would be sent with the idea that a blogger might ‘build them up’ and that’s fine absolutely for the people that do this. Personally, and it might be the writer in me, I just can’t do that as I feel like mixing my words with someone else’s like this is a bit of cheat. Anyway, long and short, well done for a fantastic press release North42. And, what a brilliant story you have!
Everything written below is their own words. All I’ve done is share the story and tasting notes. I have reformatted them to fit the appearance of my site, but that’s it. I think it’s apparent from your story, and the effort that has gone into telling it, that you are incredibly hard working and I wish you every success. Thank you so much for sending this over and I really look forward to trying this gin in the future.
Background of Sally and Joanna
Joanna has worked in Hospitality for over 15 years and has travelled the UK and Internationally as a Hospitality Manager and Chef and has a great passion for food. She has an eye for interior design, and design which you can see in the design of North Bar & Restaurant and the North42 branding.
Sally has always worked in the Health & Sports arena, particularly in community regeneration through sport for which Sally works in project scoping, funding and project management.
Together, Sally & Joanna’s combination of creative flair and entrepreneurialism gave birth to both North Bar & Restaurant and to North42 Gin which arose out of their combined passion for eating out and the love of gin.
The start of North
In 2014 they found and purchased a restaurant shell, that needed a complete re-design & refurbishment – the perfect project to combine their skills and passions…North Bar and Kitchen was born and opened on Feb 4th 2015
Situated at No.42 Hinckley Road, Leicester, Joanna and Sally’s playful nature led them to a number game – they would stock and sell 41 of the highest quality most Gins chosen from their travels around the World and only sell a 42nd Gin when they could make a world class gin themselves and they would call it North42.
The first cocktail they ever made – the Rhubarb Tumble – was inspired by Sally’s love of rhubarb, and Joanna’s ability to come up with perfect food pairings.
From 2016, North Bar & Restaurant gained an East Midlands reputation for stocking the finest Gins and offering sensational food which paired well with different gins.
We then went on to win Best New Business 2016 and Best Restaurant in 2017 at the Niche Awards.
In 2017, Sally and Joanna develop their love further, by producing gin tasting boards. These boards were created for their customers to taste and try different gins with mixer pairings that they recommended. This was all collected together from their tasting experiences from their travels and love for gin. The best-selling cocktail was Rhubarb Tumble which was certainly gaining a reputation among customers – and even among other cocktail mixologists who sent “spies” to the restaurant to find out how it was made.
Sally and Joanna know then that their testing of the market had paid off, when at the end of 2017 North won Best Restaurant of the Year at the Niche Awards
2018 saw the arrival of 5 Course Tasting Menus paired with wines from favourite wine regions Sally and Joanna had traveled to.
Each tasting evening included talks from invited winemakers. Joanna also developed a Vegan Tasting Menu and won a PETA award for the vegan culinary skills. All the while customers & friends kept on saying the reputation you have for pairing gins, and it seemed natural that now was the time for North42!
North42 was born…
In 2019, Sally and Joanna started the journey to create their own gin. It was the year of the restaurants 4th anniversary, with now in its 4th year, they were now becoming more established & Sally then felt she needed yet again another new project….
They wanted to create a world class gin, with 100% natural ingredients that would taste great and pair well with food. They started to mix ingredients using Joanna’s expert palate with Joanna developing kitchen-based recipes and then working with an award-winning distiller for their gin expertise and production.
They worked through hundreds of iterations of the recipe, continually tweaking the ingredients and mix until they had something they were proud enough to call North42! – a 42% ABV Gin, the 42nd Gin to be served at North Bar & Restaurant on 42 Hinckley Road! They also say the meaning of life is 42…
Joanna with her creative side also worked with a design company to create the bottle and brand design. After months of process, the gin was finalised in flavour & the bottle design was created.
On the 4th anniversary of North, Sally and Joanna announced to customers and friends their intention to launch their own gin. They would fund it through Crowdfunder and asked customers & friends to buy the gin in advance to support the launch of the product.
At the same time, to fund the project, Sally and Joanna launched their creation of a 5 Course Tasting menu paired with North42 and a gin afternoon tea that will also include the gin.
On the 14th February 2019, the crowdfunding campaign launched. Their target for the campaign was to raise £10,000 and within 24 hours they had raised £4225. (that number 42 kept showing up – like an omen!!).
One month later, the campaign had raised an astonishing £12,365 from over 103 supporters – in just 28 days. It was exciting and a little bit overwhelming but Sally and Joanna could now produce their first batch of North42 Gin.
Sally and Joanna quickly became near-celebrities in the Crowdfunding world and the Crowdfunder organisation invited them as guest speakers at the launch of a Nat West Bank initiative ‘Back Her Business’ to promote Women Entrepreneurialism.
After Alison Rose, CEO of Nat West Bank who wrote the government paper, had welcomed the delegates, a nervous Sally stood in front of 600 women to tell her and Joanna’s story. Sally, half-jokingly said in her speech, that she wanted only premium retailers to stock her product and she wanted to start with Selfridges or Harrods
Unknown to Sally, Sam Watts the General Manager of Selfridges Birmingham was in the room and immediately offered to stock North42 and do a pop-up event in Selfridges Birmingham.
All this without even tasting the product – all on the strength of Sally and Joanna’s story and passion! It was an amazing piece of serendipity – on such strokes of luck, great businesses can be built!
With two weeks, Sally and Joanna launched a second Crowdfunder with a £5000 target to help fund the pop-up shop in Selfridges, and from a Cross Productions Expo Business Event, they raised £1,000 to achieve the £5,000 target. This was then matched by NatWest Business to fund a further £2,500. They successfully raised £7,811 with 53 supporters in 42 days (that number 42 again!).
North42’s grand launch was on 28th May 2019 – Sally and Joanna invited all their supporters. It was a great celebration at the restaurant with over 100 supporters attending the event to collect their gin with inviting local press to taste the gin too. This week they also launched their 5 Course Tasting Menu paired with gin at the restaurant.
North42 launched in Selfridges Birmingham on October 1st 2019. Sam Watts, the General Manager was first to purchase a bottle, who else would it be? Supported by a Pop-Up bar, the product sold out in the first weekend of being in store. Selfridges quickly wanted the product listed in the Manchester and London stores as well as online. This was mind-blowing as it was selling higher than other brands in the store.
Throughout this North42 started to gained coverage in local and regional press and retail and drinks industry publications. There were many articles celebrating two creative and driven women in business who have realised their passion in the creation of North42. On Boxing Day 2019, North42 was shown on ITV Central news with Sally and Joanna sharing their story nationally which gained even more attention and exposure.
Sally and Joanna then created their first promotional video.
2020- The success of North 42 Gin in Selfridges
A new year, a new success for Sally and Joanna as Selfridges purchased North42 Gin gift boxes to be exclusive in all stores and online for Valentine’s Day. Selfridges gave them pride of place with a main display stand in their London store in Oxford Street. Sally and Joanna travelled to London tell their story and sell their product.
All the while Sally and Joanna were building their distribution in premium restaurants and bars in Leicestershire and the East Midlands. They are currently listed in more than 500 establishments.
In April, Sally got accepted on the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme. She started the programme to further develop the business., this is an exciting opportunity as a business entrepreneur.
North42 Gin will be a year old at the end of May 2020. Much has been achieved to establish the brand throughout a year but so much more remains to be done.
We are currently negotiating with a number of major on online websites and Gin clubs – North42 may be the discovery gin of the month with the well-established Craft Gin Club. The North42 team have their fingers crossed for the 10th May and will update you all soon!
North42 Gin will be going live with Prosecco and Gin Festival on 23rd May for their first Virtual Gin Festival. Over 300 people will take part in a live Zoom call where Sally and Joanna will share their story of North, tastings of North42 and how to create one of their North42 cocktail creations…Atomic 42.
A 42% ABV craft distilled flavoured gin with a distinctive scarlet colour. The pronounced nose carries both of the key flavour elements – the rhubarb and the blood orange – along with a strong juniper aroma and back notes of coriander seed and citrus peel.
In the mouth, this is a fruity, fresh gin that takes you on a journey of flavour. The robust weight warms the mouth with the alcohol hit of the high quality base spirit, but this soon gives way to juicy rhubarb and a light spice, followed by the citrus and floral characters of blood orange and the complex mix of botanicals.
The finish is long, leaving the delicious taste of freshly squeezed blood orange on the palate.
North42 Gin has sufficient complexity to make an enjoyable sipping gin that reveals more and more of its character through the serve. It also partners well with plain tonic or ginger ale to make a refreshing long drink – with the pleasing aesthetic of each of these mixers drawing out either the pink or orange tones of the spirit respectively.
The robust 42% weight also makes North42 Gin perfect for mixologists, providing a strong spirit base for a range of cocktail recipes, including the signature Rhubarb Tumble developed by the gin’s creators, the team at North Bar & Kitchen in Leicester.