Meet the producer: Gattertop Drinks Co
Gemma Standeven is the founder of Gattertop Drinks Co, a premium spirits company based in Herefordshire on an ancient farm. All the traditional botanicals used in the brand’s two-strong range are sourced from its on-site orchard
What were you doing before you launched Gattertop Drinks?
I worked in international development for 15 years, both overseas and from the UK. My work focused on humanitarian response programmes, bringing an end to sexual violence in war zones and putting more women at the centre of conflict resolution. After becoming a mum, I wanted to bring out my entrepreneurial side, move to the countryside and be closer to my family.
Why did you decide to start the brand?
I identified a gap in the vodka market – using it as an alternative to gin – and more recently a gap in the botanical vodka market. I spotted an amazing opportunity, using vodka as the perfect alcohol base. It doesn’t have a distinctive taste, aroma or colour, which is brilliant for showcasing beautiful botanicals in their own right.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
Be brave and bold. Follow your instincts, lead with your heart, don’t compromise, and invest time in getting it right. I have learned where my strengths and weaknesses lie and where to ask for help.
What makes your spirits stand out?
Provenance, taste and premium quality. I am proud to say that many factors make us stand out, including the single-sourced natural ingredients we use that are led by nature, all from one ancient farm and orchard in Herefordshire. I use a truly innovative, authentic and considered approach to developing a flavour profile to capture the English Orchard in a glass and both drinks have had rave reviews; Damson No 12 has won a Great Taste award five years in a row and Difford’s Guide has given both our drinks a 4.5 out of 5 rating.
Why did you decide to use traditional ingredients and botanicals?
I started to experiment with flavours, letting the ingredients of the orchards determine the route and profile of my drinks. The traditional orchards at Gattertop have a huge amount of history attached to them, so it was the obvious choice to use traditional ingredients and plants, if they lived in harmony in nature, surely they could in my drinks! I was also fascinated to see what flavours I could produce.
Why is sustainability important to you and your business?
What kind of planet our children will inherit if we don’t consider live more sustainably is something I think about a lot. My children won’t eat Nutella anymore because they learned about palm oil and the destruction of the rainforest at school. I’m not going to be on the stage at the UN, but I like to do my bit on an individual basis. I aim to use the B-Corp framework to help our business meet sustainability targets.
What is the best thing about being a small business?
Working on every element of the business has its challenges, but huge rewards, and working alongside people who believe in you and want to see you succeed is empowering.
…and the worst?
The small hits can be huge, and before I brought in more team members it was a lonely place. You need to bounce ideas around, share the highs and lows, and feel part of a team.
What’s next for Gattertop Drinks?
We’d love to do another spirit that is in keeping with the brand story, and the orchard is big enough to support expansion.