Royal favourite Luscombe flies the flag for flavour popping drinks
Producing in small batches, the family business is set in a valley on the edge of Devon’s Dartmoor National Park where it blends an array of organic ingredients, from Sicilian lemons and whole root Peruvian ginger to the zesty Japanese yuzu – for an intriguing tonic, and English apples.
Granite-filtered, mineral-rich water sourced from its own spring then completes the unique drinks’ range of 14 varieties.
These include organic fruit juices, crushes and bubblies as well as tonics to complement craft spirits, mixers and a traditional cider with output now numbering some eight million servings a year.
Output totals some eight million servings a year with National Trust cafes, John Lewis, iconic chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants and sustainable online grocers Abel & Cole and Riverford Organic are among its primarily trade customers.
Luscombe’s capacity to double revenues within the next couple of years to £10million is more than possible, says founder and managing director Gabriel David.
“It sounds a lot but we can do this without any challenge to our ethics or ways of production. There are plenty of customers out there who are fanatical about flavour and wanting ethically made soft drinks – it’s a big marketplace.”
Cider making on Luscombe Farm dates back to the 12th century. But in 1997, seeing how its contemporary diversification into the sector was struggling, David sensed an opportunity to appeal to those like him whose social life was reliant on cars.
Tired of lime-and-soda, they were crying out for creative, alcohol-free drinks.
Drawing on his time in Sicily experiencing its superb lemons and using the family firm’s cider press David moved from Elderflower Bubbly to Sicilian Lemonade and onwards with Luscombe’s Hot Ginger Beer a perennial favourite and the company garnering tens of 90 Great Taste Awards.
“What we offered struck a chord, especially in London,” he recalls. “We have a team of 30 passionate people and serve customers across the UK and Europe.
“There are many visits to trade shows and our growers’ fruit is affected by many variables – late spring frosts damaging blossoms for example. But we never compromise on taste, look after all our suppliers and pay a fair price.”
Investment cycles have resulted in production innovations, “gentle pressing and keeping oxygen out so the flavours are preserved. Consistency in everything is what we look for year after year,” explains David.
Now the company is going through proof of concept for a canned drinks range. “Cans are lighter, craft brewers paved the way,” he adds.
And as David also considers the future, the time could be coming up for an angel investor to join Luscombe, “an expert in distribution in the hospitality sectors,” he says.
The company received its prestigious Royal Warrant accolade in 2021 for selling its drinks to the Royal Household for many years and pressing apples grown on the King’s Highgrove House estate.
“It’s our flag of positivity,” says David. “Better times have come.”
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