The ASA has ruled that the 4 Elliot-Berry siblings, owners of Sibling Distillery, cannot appear in promotion for their own gin, as they are under 25.
Sibling Distillery was founded last year by Felix, Clarice, Cicely and Digby Elliott-Berry, an astonishing achievement as their ages ranged from 23 (Felix) to just 15 (Digby) when the company was founded.
Since then they’ve gone on to win acclaim and a few awards for their small batch Sibling Triple Distilled Gin, but a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority has meant that they can’t appear in adverts for their own products.
Responding to a complaint from Alcohol Concern the ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form stating that, “Committees of Advertising Practice require that ads for alcohol must not feature people under 25 years playing a significant role.”
'We understood that the people in the photograph were the owners and co-founders of the business and that the eldest sibling was 23.”
'Whilst we recognised that was a fact and not something that could be altered, the ad nevertheless featured people aged under 25 and we considered that because they were the owners of the business and the ad referred to their experience and background, they were playing a significant role.”
We spoke with Cicely, Clarice and Felix to talk about the story behind Sibling Distillery and their thoughts on the ruling.
Gin Festival: Firstly, what inspired the four of you to start your own distillery?
Cicely: We grew up with our parents running several companies together and always working for themselves, so when we started thinking about what we ‘wanted to be when we grew up’, it was much less about choosing a career path and more about ideas and opportunities that we saw. When we were growing up our Mum and Dad’s business was a brewery, that was our Dad’s real passion and he always called it our family business, rather than his and Mum’s. So we always felt involved, and then when we were older we developed a passion for distilling and saw an opportunity to work together. It was obvious to us but sounds strange from the outside.
And why gin?
Clarice: With gin we felt that there was still room in the market to bring something new and different. Also, it is the spirit that we felt allowed for the most creativity, involvement and control in the overall flavour. I feel that it is the spirit that most closely marries art with science, and with the four of us involved that fulfils all of our interests. And it tastes great!
What have been the challenges and achievements for Sibling Distillery so far?
Cicely: Everyday there are challenges, I think more than any one or two particular challenges it’s learning to deal with the day to day situations without getting disheartened and keeping faith that what you are doing is worth the work and enjoying the highs without feeling stressed. At the very beginning it was easy to think that when one little thing happened it was the end of the world, but now we take everyday as it comes.
Felix: We've never been particularly interested in creating a traditional London Dry Gin as there are so many that fall into that category already. We've picked up a couple of gongs in the last year in the some of the main spirits competitions but as far as quantitative achievements go we were probably most pleased with being awarded full marks at the Great Taste Awards which spans all food and drink products. However, I think that our best success has been managing to launch and take to market a gin which people genuinely love. When we launched we knew that we loved it, but to get emails every day from people telling us just how much they enjoy buying and drinking our gin is by far and away the biggest success in my eyes.
What are your thoughts on the ASA ruling?
Felix: I feel frustrated. From our launch until now we've been absolutely transparent about our processes and business, believing this to be the best way to do things. To now be told that we can no longer give people the full information about our distilling team is just a bit frustrating. Obviously for us the quality of our product is our selling point so I don't have too many concerns about it damaging sales, but I just wish the ASA would use a bit of common sense and allow us to publish details about ourselves, as at the moment we are the only people who work within the company! It seems absurd that we will have to pay models in the future if we want to show how our distillery works.
However, people seem to have been massively supportive on this so to be honest as long as we have the customers on-side then it doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. Once we are into the quieter months of January/February we will sit down and work out a bit of a longer term plan because we are going to have nine years to wait until Digby is 25 it's going to take a bit of thinking about.
What has people’s reaction been to the story behind Sibling distillery so far?
Cicely: Normally they step back and realise that we all look the same and feel silly for not noticing. But then people are intrigued, because they assumed that we’re just the sales reps so they want to know how, why, when etc, etc. I think that reaction shows people’s craving for something authentic, they want to know everything about us and the distillery, because we’re all so used to being disappointed by finding out our favourite ‘small’ brands are actually owned by the same big organisations.
What’s next for you four?
Clarice: At the moment we’re so busy with what we are doing that it's hard to see past Christmas! We are always asked if we will extend our range, as it stands we simply don't have time, but I think we all agree that it seems likely at some point.
Sibling Triple Distilled Gin is available from our online shop. Triple Distilled has a very clean base spirit thanks to the 3x distillation process and the fact that the Elliot-Berrys, unusually, make their own base spirit. This clean slate means they can use very delicate botanicals such as blueberry and vanilla to produce a gin that’s soft and fresh with a creamy smoothness. Siblings ends with a long and distinct finish, the range of unusual botanicals lingering.
Hopefully one day the range will expand but for now you can pick up this delicious Triple Distilled Gin from our gin shop.
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