LemonTop Gin - The Independent Tees Collective

10 Jul 2021

Source: LemonTop Gin

I didn't used to be much of a drinker, and I'm still not massively into it, but as soon as you mention a lovely gin, I'm there. There's just something about it, isn't there? And especially the flavoured kind! Who knew there were so many different types? Well, today's Indie Tees Collective feature are expanding that flavour range with their Tees-themed creation, so if you love gin and the classic seaside lemon top treat, then this is the post for you.

As you've probably guessed, today's post is all about LemonTop Gin. We have so many distilleries here in our little corner of the North East, but I've been particularly interested in this brand ever since they launched. They've got an interesting story behind the bottles and they've totally taken the Tees by storm since they launched last year. I've honestly loved watching them develop and I can't wait to see where they take their ideas in the future. Wanna find out more? Keep reading!

Hello! Let's start with a bit of an introduction. Who are you and what is your business all about?

I’m Andy, one of the founders of LemonTop Gin. It’s a project we’ve wanted to do for a long time as our main business (LemonTop Creative) specialises in branding and websites for the drinks industry, so we work with loads of breweries, distilleries and other companies, helping them brand and market their drinks. We decided the time was right to create our own drink, but wanted something special and unique, so we took the flavour of the famous LemonTop ice cream (where we got the inspiration for the creative business name) and turned it into a gin.

Source: LemonTop Gin

Where did the inspiration for LemonTop Gin come from? What made you want to kickstart it?

As a branding agency, we have always wanted to create our own iconic brand. When you look at Teesside, you have such great icons like the parmo, ICI, Quorn, the Transporter Bridge and our favourite the LemonTop ice cream, and yes, we know there are lots more. As we were already called LemonTop after the ice cream and our experience of developing drinks for other businesses, it was clear to see now that our journey towards LemonTop Gin had begun.

While discussing the idea of LemonTop Gin one day, we realised that the inspiration we were looking for was the memories behind enjoying a LemonTop ice cream and everyone's fondness for them. We all remember what it felt like to enjoy a LemonTop at the end of those perfect summer days, so we wanted to bring a bit of that nostalgia and create an emotional connection with not just the people of Teesside, but those further afield too. We launched during lockdown towards the end of November, and the support from everyone on Teesside and the surrounding area has made it all worthwhile.

What's the best way to drink LemonTop Gin?

The LemonTop Cocktail for sure, although the LemonTop meringue pie is delicious too. My wife is addicted to them!

This could be a controversial question, but which spot does the best lemon top ice cream?

No contest, Pacittos in Redcar, the original and the best! It’s been a regular fixture on Redcar sea front as long as I can remember, and it’s always been a favourite not just for me, but for most of the people I know. The family and I still make regular visits, and the taste is still the same as I can remember. I always make sure it’s in a traditional cone too - none of these fancy chocolate covered sugar cones.

Source: LemonTop Gin

What do you enjoy most about running LemonTop Gin?

The feedback - seeing how happy the gin makes people and then hearing customers stories. We’ve sent gin to someone's son in France, as it was his favourite ice cream as a kid, so he sent us a photo on Christmas Day while he was enjoying the gin and reminiscing. We’ve had people say how much it reminds them of holidays or of home now that they’ve moved away from the area. We had someone who bought the gin as they’d normally travel up from down south for a LemonTop ice cream and a Spam Fritter once a year, but because of covid, they couldn’t travel. When they bought the gin, we sent them some spam to make fritters with. It really seems to have cheered a lot of people up during a tough year.

People have really got involved too – we’ve had a chef use the gin for a dessert in his afternoon tea, we’ve had a recipe for a lemon posset written for us by a lady who runs fantastic online cooking courses, and we’ve had cocktail recipes sent to us from people who’ve bought the gin and started experimenting. I also love it when I get a text from a bar or restaurant saying it’s flown out, and can they have some more, especially when you’ve only just dropped the last order off.

What do you love about the Teesside independent scene?

The variety – there’s so many fantastic independent businesses covering just about every base, and everyone is so friendly and supportive. Everyone really seems to have pulled together in the last 18 months and it’s made me really proud to be part of it.

I know I’ve enjoyed trying some of the food from the likes of Northern Portions, the unbelievable chocolates from tr:Eat or the amazing bath bombs from Bath Candy. It’s great to see so many people doing amazing things and starting new independent businesses. Even since I started filling this in I came across You Knead Pizza, who make some awesome proper Neapolitan pizzas.

Source: LemonTop Gin

What has been LemonTop Gin's biggest achievement so far?

Selling the first bottle of LemonTop Gin is a fantastic milestone in the journey, but I think now, it's more than that. To us, this was never about how many bottles we could sell, but we hoped it would do well. Deep down, we always hoped we could create something special for those that loved LemonTop ice creams, which includes us, and brings back that nostalgic taste of the seaside. We wanted to create our own community of customers and followers, which I think we have.

From those early days when you could see people's reactions when we dropped them off personally, to the way they share their own cocktails and food creations with us or online. To us, every glass is a LemonTop Gin shaped time machine that brings back that nostalgic taste of the seaside wherever you are.

While we have a track record of being able to brand and market some fantastic products, we hadn't launched one of our own, so that first sale on the website after the teaser campaigns and social media we were running really helped us believe in what we were doing.

What's next for LemonTop Gin? What do you hope for the future?

We’d love to get LemonTop Gin into some shops, and into more bars and restaurants. When you have feedback from bars and restaurants telling you this has been their fastest selling product, you can’t be anything other than proud of where we are to date. We have some great venues selling the gin in Redcar, Middlesbrough and Stockton and this is an amazing place for us to expand from.

We have exciting plans for the future of this Teesside brand, ideas for new flavours and products, along with different things you can do to enjoy LemonTop Gin, so watch this space. In the future, it would be great for LemonTop Gin to be remembered, but still enjoyed in the same way we still enjoy a LemonTop ice cream today.

Source: LemonTop Gin

And finally, recommend one other Teesside independent to us!

Tough one – there are so many brilliant businesses and lovely people out there, but I'll give a shout out to Rita’s in Redcar. Without them, we wouldn't have been able to do click and collect through lockdown. They sell some amazing beers and have the best pub dogs! It’s really worth popping in next time you’re in Redcar.

Who else really wants ice cream now? I also kind of have the urge to make a lemon and vanilla gin drizzle cake... I'm making myself hungry here! But how great is the story behind LemonTop Gin? I love that it was formed by a branding bunch with a mutual love of the Teesside treat, and it's just flown ever since. The future is really exciting for the guys behind this brand, so I'm looking forward to seeing what's next. If you want to stay in the loop, make sure you follow them on Facebook or Instagram, or pick yourself up a bottle from their online shop.

Make sure you check back next week for another incredible Teesside independent!

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