What did you do before creating Twelve Below Tonics?
I had my own residential lettings business, which I sold after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017.
What made you decide to create your tonics and what makes them different?
Having had treatment for cancer, I was advised to cut down on alcohol and calories, so I started to drink tonic on its own (and with the occasional gin!), but was dismayed at how much sugar was in standard varieties and did not like the artificial sweeteners in the slimline versions. Then I got totally confused with the light, diet and slimline market and what exactly it meant. So we decided to make a genuinely low sugar, all natural tonic, which was also delicious. TwelveBelow is the first tonic which is all natural and contains less than 2.5g of sugar per 100ml, right across the range of flavours.
What is the story behind the name?
We have hung our hat on being a low calorie tonic, and therefore named it TwelveBelow to represent the less than 12 calories per 100ml across our range.
Can you tell us more about how your tonics are made?
In order to achieve our low sugar products we use organic agave syrup in our mix. We also use all natural extracts to ensure a true flavour. This makes a very clean tasting tonic which is light and delicious.
What have been the biggest challenges so far?
Our biggest challenge is being completely new to the industry, so every day is a lesson! Routes to market, minimum order quantities for ingredients and unfavourable payment terms have been our bumps in the road, but we have overcome them and have proved we have a great product which has a definite USP and consequently a place in the market.
What have been the biggest achievements so far?
The best thing is to do a tasting session and have people say they don’t like tonic, and yet when they taste ours the reaction is so positive they say they could drink it without the gin! Twelve Below has continued to grow throughout the pandemic and we are delighted to say we have won awards in the Free From Food Awards, Great Taste Awards and the Great British Food Awards. Hot off the press, we have also just won 3 Golds and a Silver Award from The Spirits Business. It is great as a newcomer to the industry to receive these industry accolades. We were delighted to be included in the Craft Gin Club's January 2021 box and received amazing feedback from their members - we love introducing the tonics to new audiences.
How would you describe your tonics in 3 words?
Delicious, low sugar, game-changer
Do you have any favourite pairings, or a favourite serving at the moment?
A favourite winter warmer is Moon Gin with our Rhubarb & Ginger tonic, garnished with a slice of orange to add a citrus note. I also love TOAD Vodka with our Pear and Cardamom tonic - the caramel tones in the vodka work so well with the pear, delicious! Our Apple & Garden Mint is so fresh when paired with the aromatic Old Amersham Gin too. For the traditionalist our Classic Premium tonic allows the botanicals to shine through in a London Dry Gin, such as Griffiths Brothers Gin, or Campfire Gin, without being overpowering. There is something for everyone with our flavours!
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf?
My personal favourites Old Amersham Gin, Griffiths Brothers No 1 Gin and Campfire London Dry. All of which are local to us in Buckinghamshire, so very handy!
What's next for Twelve Below - any exciting plans?
We have exciting new products launching in early summer, maintaining our mission to deliver all natural, delicious, low sugar drinks. Two gorgeous new flavours especially to be enjoyed as soft drinks or mixed… watch this space!