‘Healthy alcohol’ might sound like an oxymoron to some, but entrepreneur Alex Kammerling believes he has come up with just that.
Former barman and designer Kammerling is the entrepreneur behind a new lower-alcohol aperitif spirit, Kamm & Sons whose base of ginseng and natural botanical infusions, the producers claim, contains health benefits.
‘Ginseng has been used extensively in China for years,’ explains Kammerling. ‘Cancer sufferers take it. It’s said to boost your immune system, help your libido, improve memory and stamina. It helps process alcohol in the bloodstream. It also stimulates the appetite, so it’s great to use as an aperitif. And it contains echinacea and goji berries,’ he adds, ‘which have historically been used in medicines.’
The law still bans alcohol brands from saying that they are healthy, but Kamm & Sons is part of a growing trend in spirits, in which health benefits and health ingredients are increasingly being embraced. ‘Lots of bars create goji berry cocktails and incorporate superfoods into cocktails. We’re all more concerned now about our health and where foods come from, and I think that drinks brands will be the next to capitalise on this. Already, there are organic drinks labels. There is also a goji berry vodka. Even though alcohol is seen as a bad ingredient, there are health benefits to regular – moderate – drinking.’
Kamm & Sons comes in a bottle styled on traditional medicine containers, further amplifying its suggested medicinal qualities, and features a strikingly retro, yet modern, graphic label. The spirit is made in Highbury, north London, and is distilled and bottled in Clapham, south London, by Kammerling and his family. The spirit itself is distilled much like a gin, although it is made at 33% abv, rather than 40%. It also features 45 natural botanicals, along with fresh grapefruit peel and manuka honey. ‘It’s floral, it’s quite citrusy, with a bitterness at the end. It’s good with tonic and bitter lemon,’ says Kammerling.
Top five take-outs
1. Be local. Kamm & Sons is made in London and celebrates its independent spirit. Boutique spirits brands – as we have seen from the success of London-based gin brand Sipsmith – are becoming increasingly popular with consumers.
2. Be Revivalist, but also contemporary. Kamm & Sons’ striking packaging combines retro and modern aesthetics.
3. Be healthy. As Kammerling asserts, the concept of health is increasingly being embraced in the drinks world.
4. Be unique. By creating a new lower-alcohol aperitif spirit, Kammerling occupies his own category, without competitors.
5. Embrace quality. From natural botanicals to artisanal processing, Kammerling has focused on quality and sourcing as key selling points.