CHRIS and Rose Bax had been running a foraging and cookery course - Taste the Wild - for 15 years when they started experimenting with distilling foraged ingredients.

Motivated by a love of botanical flavours, they set out to produce alcohol-free spirits that give the taste experience of an alcoholic drink without the after-effects.

The result is the award-winning Bax Botanics, distilled at the couple’s home in Wetherby.

The husband and wife team made it to the final of the Global Good Awards 2020, winning Best New Enterprise, just 18months after launching their non-alcoholic spirit.

Rose says they were “delighted” to win: “The awards recognise organisations that are making strides towards a better world for people, the planet and the global economy and it is really important to Bax that we are an ethical business - our drinks are crafted with the planet and our responsibilities to the natural world in mind.

“We aim to be as transparent as possible about our company ethics and undertake sustainable and nature-friendly practices throughout every stage of production.”

The couple initially launched the spirit from their North Yorkshire woodland. Says Chris: “We couldn’t serve alcohol with food at the woodlands and we wanted the drink to be as important as the meal, so we started experimenting with the foraged products.

“I made something quite undrinkable so Rose, with her knowledge of wild plants, took over.”

Using decades of knowledge and experience, Rose worked on recipes with herbs, roots, berries, and flowers and Bax Botanics was born.

Within seven months the couple had won a Great Taste Award - they remain the only non-alcoholic spirit to do so - and are now stocked in more than 100 retail outlets, including Booths in Ilkley, bars, and online shops.

“Because we can distil up to 3,000 bottles a month, we now use farmed botanicals to ensure sustainability and high-quality supply,” Rose explains. “The planet, and sustainability, is of great importance to us and is at the heart of the product; we consider it at every single step. We use natural products that are farmed sustainably and organically by Fairtrade farmers.”

Bax Botanics currently offer two products - Verbana and Sea Buckthorn. Not intended to drink neat, they are created to respond well to tonic water. “The dilution and the fizz lift the flavours as they would with a gin,” says Rose.

“The drinks are distilled in a traditional way, using a copper still - a technique that was invented centuries ago and is little changed today.”

Rose and Chris have created a variety of cocktail recipes in which their drinks can be used, and now aim to place the products in more bars, restaurants, and supermarkets throughout the country.

“There is a host of reasons that people may choose to not drink alcohol - pregnancy, designated driver, medication, religious beliefs, or just having some time off,” says Chris. “We firmly believe that you still deserve a luxury treat when you’re not drinking alcohol and botanicals are in our DNA; they’re what we do, and we do them well.”

Bax Facts: No sugar or sweeteners; half a calorie per 50ml serving; free from gluten and other notifiable allergens; suitable for vegans and vegetarians; eco friendly, made from organic botanicals farmed sustainably and Fairtrade farmers; eco packaging and labelling; distilled in craftsman made copper stills; only buy from companies who ensure fair wages are paid to employees.

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