Founders Sarah and Geoff Yates wanted to create an alternative to alcohol without compromising taste or experience and Sea Arch was born.
As well as using natural botanicals, Sarah and Geoff are passionate about the environment too and use recycled cardboard for boxes and solvent free paint on the bottles.
We wanted to know how Sea Arch came about so Sue asked Sarah some questions to find out more behind this alcohol-free refreshment.
1.What gave you the idea to make a non-alcoholic spirit?
My husband Geoff and I were running a successful wine bar in Torquay. We were both trying to lead a healthier lifestyle but we enjoy socialising with friends too. We found that an increasing number of the customers in our wine bar were also looking for better quality alcohol-free options, so we started looking into the non-alcoholic drinks market.
Having been unable to find anything that we thought ticked all the boxes, we set to work making our own! Geoff is a professional pastry chef and has a good understanding of flavour combinations, so we bought a still, set it up in our kitchen and started to experiment with a variety of botanicals. We wanted to create something fresh, complex and delicious that still felt like a ‘grown up’ drink – something sippable, sessionable and sophisticated.
As we become more discerning about what we eat and drink, I think many of us have grown tired of the claggy, high sugar soft drinks that used to be the default option when not drinking alcohol. That’s why non-alcoholic spirits like our Sea Arch Coastal Juniper, which is free from sugar, sweeteners and calories, are becoming so popular – they’re a healthier, alcohol-free alternative but still feel like a real treat!
2. How long did it take from your idea to getting the final product ready for launch?
About six to eight months, with every part of the process being inspired by our Devon location.
We created the Sea Arch Coastal Juniper recipe in our kitchen using a variety of natural botanicals including sugar kelp and samphire, both of which are native to the South Devon coast. These bring fresh coastal notes and Devon character to the blend, which sit perfectly alongside our other botanicals including juniper, cardamom, coriander and blood orange to create a deliciously crisp, complex non-alcoholic spirit.
The Sea Arch brand name was also inspired by our location, and in particular a natural sea arch off the coast of Torquay that’s very close to where we live. This stunning rock formation is all the more captivating because of what nature has taken away – tying in with the Sea Arch strapline, More beautiful without.
The coastal inspiration is fundamental to the Sea Arch brand and that’s reflected in our beautiful marine blue bottle, in the sand patterns on the label graphic and throughout our website. Once we’d found the right blend for our spirit, the rest of it followed naturally.
3. What line of work were you in previously? Was it food/drink?
We’ve both always worked in the hospitality industry – Geoff was a pastry chef and I was front-of-house. We worked in many five-star hotels, overseas and in London, before moving to Devon in 1990 and setting up a highly successful dessert manufacturing business. Then we bought the wine bar in 2014 and founded Sea Arch Drinks in 2018.
4. Is it a special water you use to make Sea Arch?
Of course, it’s good English water!
5. What is your favourite way to enjoy a Sea & T and where do you like to drink it?
One of the advantages of a non-alcoholic drink is that you can enjoy it in almost any situation – at lunchtime or in the evening, on weekdays and weekends. It’s a perfect alternative to the classic G & T, with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of Indian tonic, and it’s delicious in non-alcoholic cocktails, so I enjoy it in a variety of ways, depending on how I’m feeling that day.
A particular favourite of mine is to drink Sea Arch with grapefruit and rosemary, a light tonic water and plenty of ice. It’s my treat at the end of the day when I’m relaxing on the balcony, or while I’m cooking dinner.
Our Sea & T ready-to-drink cans are a double measure of Coastal Juniper spirit pre-mixed with tonic and these are also great to have in my bag when I’m out and about.
6. How many bottles do you make in a batch?
It started on a very small scale with only a few hundred in each batch but this is increasing quite rapidly, especially now we are sending our product by the container-load.
7. Do you export Sea Arch yet? If so, to what countries.
Yes we do. We’re currently exporting to the UAE and Australia, as well as some parts of Europe. This year we’re hoping to expand into additional European countries, as well as getting Sea Arch into the USA and Canada.
8. How did you come to choose a blue bottle?
Sea Arch is all about the coast, so the marine blue bottle colour reflects that, as does the sand pattern you’ll see on the label, which was taken from a sand pattern photograph of a local beach.
We’re very conscious and careful about our environmental impact, so the paint that’s used on the bottles is solvent-free, plus all of our eco-friendly packaging is recyclable or compostable and we won’t ever use single-use plastic.
9. If you drank an alcoholic gin – what is your favourite and how do you like to drink it?
We do drink alcohol too and when it comes to gin we tend to go for a Plymouth Gin or a Distinctly Gin – we love to keep it local!
For us, it’s really about having more choice, not less – enjoying a G & T on some occasions and a Sea & T on others. Taking a mindful approach to drinking alcohol is the key to having a healthy, balanced and fulfilling lifestyle, so we’ll raise a glass to that anytime!
10. Anything else you’d like to share?
Sea Arch Drinks supports The Seahorse Trust, helping to boost awareness of the charity and raise much-needed funds to support its research and conservation work.
Both based in Devon, Sea Arch and The Seahorse Trust share a passion for the coast and a commitment to protecting the natural world.
The natural sea arch off the coast of Torquay that inspired the Sea Arch brand name is one of the study sites for The Seahorse Trust, with both of the British seahorse species – the spiny seahorse and the short snouted seahorse – found here, as well as elsewhere around the bay. More information on this can be found here.
Thanks so much to Sarah for answering our questions!
Keep an eye out for our review of Sea Arch drinks and some non-alcoholic cocktail recipes just before Easter! #MoreBeautifulWithout
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