Close Menu

SB meets… Adam von Gootkin, Highclere Castle Gin

The co-founder and CEO of Highclere Castle Gin explains the inspiration behind the brand, and its connection to TV show Downton Abbey.

Adam von Gootkin, co-founder and CEO of Highclere Castle Gin
Adam von Gootkin, co-founder and CEO of Highclere Castle Gin

How did Highclere Castle Gin come about?

I discovered Highclere Castle through Downton Abbey, and I thought it would make the most flawless terroir for a spirits brand. Thankfully, the owners of Highclere Castle, Lord and Lady Carnarvon, agreed. So, we set off on a long journey to bring the spirit of Highclere to light using botanicals grown on the estate.

I think Downton captured the hearts and minds of so many people because it visualised a time of elegance, beauty, and refinement. Our gin exemplifies this noble heritage of setting the bar exceptionally high, working hard, and crafting beauty.

How does the brand work with the Carnarvon family?

Lord and Lady Carnarvon are my co-founding partners, and we work very closely to grow the brand around the world. We have offices at Highclere Castle, and our headquarters are based in Connecticut, US, where our management team is located. The castle is the ultimate stage for a spirits brand, with gin cocktails being served at private dinners for friends, family and visiting VIPs, on shooting weekends, and to the visiting public on open days. The castle’s head butler, Luis Coelho, holds the title of the castle’s chief mixologist. He is constantly innovating cocktails, and he has absolutely perfected the classics.

The brand was crowdfunded – how was that experience?

We have thousands of customers and fans who engage with us directly via social media and our website. I wanted to give them the opportunity to own equity in our rapidly growing brand.

Capital raises are typically offered behind closed doors to accredited investors only. We thought crowdfunding would be a fun way to engage our customers in a deeper, more meaningful way.

We raised close to US$1 million in growth capital with 800 investors. We are now raising our Series B financing round through accredited private investors and family offices.

What challenges did you encounter when launching the brand?

We launched a few months before Covid-19 hit, which severely stalled our momentum. We pivoted quickly, launching a robust e-commerce platform with delivery to 40 US states and 27 EU countries. We hosted virtual cocktail parties with Lord and Lady Carnarvon live at the castle, drawing in more than 50,000 viewers on our first event, and setting a record for the most-watched virtual cocktail party.

How will the gin market evolve?

Vodka is dead and gin is in. I think the lure of flavourless, odourless alcohol molecules has worn off, and today’s consumers are looking for flavour, craft, story and style. The premium gin segment is forecasting rapid growth, at least through to 2030, as consumers experience and learn about the sophistication that gin can offer a cocktail.

I see gin continuing to grow in the US, with exciting opportunities in Asia, as it is still a new spirit category for much of that region.

What are your plans for Highclere Castle Gin? Are there any new products or projects you can share?

Next year, we’ll release 50ml bottles for hotels and airlines. We’ll be launching this new size with our amazing partners at the prestigious Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City, Canada, and the Fairmont Hotel Group.

We’ve also expanded our partnership with Viking Cruises, and, next year, we’ll feature on all cocktail menus as part of its Silver Spirits package.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No