[ Interview by Nic Hetherington ]
[ Photographs by Rogue Society ]
In a bottle that tells a tale, Rogue Society is a premium artisan gin crafted here in the heart of Canterbury. A brand born in New Zealand from an idea on a bit of paper, it has already brewed and sold over 11,000 litres in the last year, and co-founder Mark Neal says Rogue Society is still in its infancy and really only “tipping the ice” in terms of where they want to take it.
Three and a half years of market research, product development, design, brand, and positioning; vigorous testing with New Zealand’s top bartenders and gin lovers (and haters), and much micro-distilling… Finally, there was the eureka moment when the perfect ‘Rogue Society Combination’ was created. The process to craft a bottle of this fine, citrus-based spirit takes just over three days. “It’s the beauty of the gin from a production perspective.” First, the particular twelve ‘Rogue’ botanicals are macerated for a day. Distilling takes around 24 hours and is followed by a further 24 hours of steeping. Then it’s the bottling.
The striking deep bottles give a strong visual presence, emphasising the Rogue Society ‘character’ and its positioning as a product. Inspirational aspirations for the brand are achieved, with the excellent beverage being sought after by more than simply thirsty gin connoisseurs. One of the more memorable moments of the journey to date: RS has already put a dent in the world ‘gin’ stage, claiming a few eminent international accolades, including outstanding silver in the 2014 IWSC for their 40% proof dry gin. “We always thought it was good, and consumers and bartenders always told us it was good, but to get it from these sorts of people – it was kind of, yeah well, pretty memorable I guess.”
The process to craft a bottle of this fine, citrus-based spirit takes just over three days.
The epic combined knowledge within the small team has played an obvious part in the success of the enterprise and journey so far. Skills comprising running a business, strategy and marketing, mixology and, obviously, nose for a good gin, are all vital elements that contribute to what makes Rogue Society tick. Mark mentions the importance of “creating and surrounding yourself with the right people to achieve the goals you want to achieve”. Take a look around their website and you’ll soon realise they hold the brand and the liquid equally as important as each other. The storytelling and design immediately outline the professionalism and sure quality that Rogue Society bring to the table. “A lot of products out there will have a fantastic brand, but their product won’t taste as good as the brand looks”.
With culture as a focus, they now work exclusively with Zambesi in the fashion field, and musicians Electric Wire Hustle and Midnight Gallery, to name but a few of their key collaborative creative partners. Keeping them busy at two or three events a week, Mark says, in terms of marketing, they put a lot of emphasis on events with the right people. “For us, events are key because you’re talking to the right target market. It’s a brand that people want to be a part of.” And a piece of advice for anyone starting out in business from the lads who were prepared to go the hard yards to get Rogue Society where they wanted: “The number of layers to creating something that you’re 100% happy with; it’s a long process and it’s a hard process. You’ve got to be prepared that you might have one step back, one forward and two back, one forward and two back… it just takes time”.
There’s absolutely no doubt that Daniel, Mark, and Richard have nailed it with their top class gin. With the versatility of the citrus, we can be sure Rogue Society will continue to fill any sophisticated fan’s glass with this delicious option – be it a Rogue and tonic, or a negroni with orange, or a martini with a twist of lemon…
They had the desire to go from the bottom of the world and turn tradition on its head, and they’ve done it.
Rogue Society Gin really is a drop of liquid gold and I’ll raise a glass to that. Chin chin.