High-flying twins taste success with their business Cranes Drinks
What inspired you to launch Cranes Drinks?
“The inspiration came while we were both at university. I was down in Exeter enjoying the abundance of cider the West Country had to offer. Dan was at Leeds University drinking pretty much anything he could get his hands on! In a bid to try and compensate for all the unhealthy drinking, Dan discovered a love for cranberries. As twins do, we brought these two things together to form one and that was the birth of Cranes Cranberry Cider, our first ever product.
When did you launch?
We launched in 2012 once we graduated from university. Originally, we were fermenting cranberry cider in five litre demijohns at home. I couldn’t say how many attempts it took but eight months later we had perfected the recipe. Our uncle kindly offered his old barn, rent free. However, seven months in and our micro-brewery was flooded. Luckily, at that point our friend Sam had a vacant unit on his farm in Cambridgeshire and we moved in. It continues to be the location of our brewery now.
Tell us about the process of making your delicious cider. . .
Our fruit ciders are handcrafted using the finest cranberries, alongside apples, to produce a refreshingly crisp taste. We then brew the super fruits together with the cider to create our Raspberries & Pomegranates; Cranberries & Limes or Blueberries & Apples flavoured ciders.
We use only natural ingredients in the process, ensuring all our products are suitable for vegans and gluten-free. Just to make sure it tastes perfect we do a taste test (any excuse) of each batch.
Where do your source your fruit?
We source our cranberries from Wisconsin USA, which is where over 60 per cent of all USA cranberries come from, and our apples are sourced in the UK. With our other fruits we buy as locally as possible.
What makes your drinks so appealing?
Apart from the fact they taste delicious? Well, our products use only natural ingredients which is becoming increasingly appealing, as consumers’ tastes are becoming more sophisticated. Our fruit ciders fill a gap in the market for an innovative, naturally light fruit cider, handcrafted to utilise the sweetness of the super fruits. Because we don’t add all the sugar like the brand leaders do, it results in our ciders having over 40 per cent less sugar and 30 per cent fewer calories.
Where can we buy Cranes Drinks?
Our ciders are available nationally in Asda and 17 Morrisons stores across East Anglia, including St Ives and Cambourne, as well as a host of pubs, bars and garden centres. We had an extremely successful trial in Morrisons in St Ives, where Cranes Ciders quickly became their number one selling local supplier, exceeding category forecasts for new brands by 550 per cent and outselling even established category brands by 16 per cent.
Can you tell us about your liqueurs. . .
Our Cranberry & Blood Orange Liqueur was created in 2016, and has now received two prestigious awards: gold in The Spirit Masters, and last year silver in the International Wine & Spirits Competition. Over 115 cranberries go into making one 50cl bottle of Cranes Liqueur, giving it a rich and deep flavour.
When did the gin range launch?
Cranes Cranberry Gin was launched in 2018, after a consumer vote. We gave our followers the power to decide which product we crafted next; it was between a cranberry vodka and a cranberry gin - and gin won with 68 per cent of the votes! We perfected the recipe with lots of taste testing (something you can imagine we really enjoyed). Cranes Cranberry Gin was launched for Christmas and is smooth and fruity yet delightfully sharp. If you want to get your hands on our liqueur or gin, both are available through our website.
You’ve created some cocktail recipes, we hear?
We worked with one of the UK’s top mixologists to produce a range of delicious yet simple cocktail recipes, which will be sure to impress any guest. My favourite cocktail is the Cranbellini, for its simplicity and the fact it can be created in seconds. Dan’s favourite is Cranes Lemon Berry; it’s a fun and refreshing cocktail to sip all year round.
What’s been your career highlight?
Seeing our ciders on the shelves in Morrisons and Asda. The feeling of seeing your product, that you have put so much work into, having pride of place competing - and outselling - the brand leaders surpasses any other feeling.
And the most rewarding thing about your job?
Seeing something grow from an idea to a product that customers love is incredible. If someone said to me in 2012 when we founded Cranes Drinks that our products would be outselling the big players, I would have just laughed. Don’t get me wrong, having your own business involves a lot of sweat and tears. No one can prepare you for how hard you will have to work to make it a success. But we love what we do, from attending hundreds of events up and down the country, to developing the next new product.
What’s it like working with your twin brother?
It means we can both be completely honest with each other. Our personalities and views mean we are usually on the same page in working towards our next business goal.
What are your hopes and dreams for the company?
To watch Cranes continue to grow and become available in all major supermarkets, and evolve into an international brand. Most of all we want people to continue enjoying Cranes.
What’s next for Cranes?
To complement our Cranberry Gin, we will be developing a range of different gin-based cocktails. We look forward to taste testing these! We are also developing cans for our fruit ciders which will be available at the events we attend. We are always striving to increase our sustainability and the impact we have on the environment. We rely on all-natural ingredients, so it is important for us to keep our environmental impact to an absolute minimum.”
Find out more about Cranes at drinkcranes.co.uk