Day in the life of a Kent mead producer
- Credit: Archant
William Boscawen on why he’s loving making the world’s oldest alcoholic drink
Name: William Boscawen
Job title: Founder and director
Tell us about you
I was has brought up in Cornwall, spent a few years of my life here in Kent from the age of nine to 14, and then much of my working life was in London for work in Hong Kong. In 2016 I came back to Kent to work on the family farm. It’s an amazing county, with incredible agricultural knowledge and above all really capable people all around. I was greatly inspired by this, and always wanted to be involved in rural business – and the wine trade in England was beginning to take off. As a result, I planted my vineyards.
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Marourde makes mead, it’s the world’s oldest alcoholic drink – but not a lot of people have heard of it. Essentially just honey fermented in water, mead making began some 7000 years ago in China, and eventually made it to the UK. I’d heard of the product, but not really given it much attention and it only cropped up again when I planted our vines. At that point, I became fascinated by all things wine-making. I actually started in my garage – and built a tiny winery only 4 x 4 metres. But as I learnt more about wine making, two thoughts kept cropping up. When we drink wine, why do we taste other fruits in it? And if we do taste other fruits, why don’t we actually make a wine with those ingredients in it? After about four months of tinkering away, we scaled up from small stainless-steel buckets to stainless-steel tanks and then a few months later I shipped off an early batch of a hopped mead for an award and we started with a few events. It went down a storm – and I then realised we needed to move out of our garage! We moved into a new premises at the start of 2018, at a place called (amazingly) Brewer’s Hall, which is an old oast house in Mereworth. I hope by next year we could produce quarter of a million bottles a year and that will allow us to supply customers around the country. Mead is a drink of minimal intervention, and that’s been really positively viewed by drinkers across all ages, particularly younger ones. This is partly due to it being new, but it also offers an alternative to wines, beers or ciders. Because it’s new, we can make it how we want. In our case, we took this very old drink, lowered the alcohol and made it sparkling.
How do you promote?
In the drinks trade, a lot depends on momentum and public perception. Thankfully, we’re finding people have been very proactive in promoting us. Mead, after all, isn’t a drink everybody is familiar with but we found that as soon as people do drink it, they really love it. One of the other great marketing avenues is events. They’re such fun; going to places where people can engage with you, drink the product and learn about what we do.
A typical working day?
It’s important to remember we’re a winemaker first and foremost that makes mead. Typically I start at 5:30am and get into the office by 7.15am, having sorted the children out for the day ahead. The morning is mostly admin, meetings and product development. In the afternoon I’ll spend time talking to new customers, gathering feedback from existing ones, making sure that the premises are maintained properly and that all equipment is properly clean.
Any awards yet?
Yes – and it was a massive confidence booster that we won the Kent Food Product of the Year 2018. It’s been a great morale booster to be able to speak to the top restaurants in the county and ask if they’d like to stock the Kent food product of the year.
Marks out of 10?
I’ve never felt so excited about what I’m doing. It’s a lot of pressure and we’ve put in a lot of investment and have a way to go before we are profitable, but we’re moving in the right direction. It’s definitely a 10!
Get in touch
The Oast, Brewers Hall, Tonbridge Road, Mereworth ME18 5JD
01622 817 795 or firstname.lastname@example.org