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Q&A with Rob Smith of Arrowtown Drinks

James and Rob Smith of Arrowtown Drinks

Tell us a bit about yourself…

My name is Rob, I am 26 and along with my brother James, we’re founders of Arrowtown Drinks. Both of us completed our studies at university before deciding to enter the drinks world, without prior experience.

How did you come upon the idea for your business?

It all stems back to 2018, when I was travelling in New Zealand. It was there I first stumbled across a ‘hard seltzer’ – alcoholic sparkling water – which everyone appeared to be drinking. It was light, refreshing, easy to drink but low in sugar and calories. On return to the UK, I discussed it with my brother James and we both agreed that if it were an option here in the UK, we would definitely choose to drink it. We’re your typical average drinkers so we thought if we would, then surely others would too. One thing led to another and after a lot of Googling and research, covid delays, production and legal issues, we finally launched in December 2020.

Where are you based?

We are based in Hellingly, East Sussex.

So what exactly is hard seltzer?

Quite simply, a hard seltzer is fruit-infused sparkling water with alcohol. It is a rapidly emerging category within the UK, having become a billion-dollar industry in the US and around the globe. The drink has become popular with the rise of the health-conscious consumer, as hard seltzers are typically much lower in calories and sugar than traditional alcoholic options. Our drinks are all 5% ABV, low in sugar and contain only natural ingredients.

How did you decide on your flavours?

We currently have three flavours – red berries, lime and elderflower and tropical flavour. We started with red berries and lime and elderflower as they were common flavours which we would choose to drink ourselves. As for the tropical, we actually put this to a vote on our Instagram when we were weighing up a new flavour. We asked the people what they wanted, with tropical being the unanimous winner, before releasing it a few months later in August 2021. We feel these three are now a nicely balanced combo and there is something for everyone.

Arrowtown Drinks

You pride yourself on your sustainability credentials – why that’s important for your business?

Having graduated from university with a degree in Environment and Business, it was important to me to build a business that could be used as a force for good and as a way of making a real difference.

Placing sustainability at the core of the business was a necessity for us and, subsequently, this is a key driver in the daily running of the business. We have been a carbon neutral business for almost a year. Whilst a lot of food and drink brands go operationally carbon neutral, we have covered all three scopes of the business, meaning we offset everything from the sourcing of ingredients, through to the cans arriving in customers hands.

We wanted the brand to be all-inclusive and so it was also important for us to make sure our drinks were also vegan and gluten free.

You also donate to charities?

We really liked the idea of using daily consumption habits as a force for change so the simple idea was that consumers could make a genuine difference by doing something as simple as changing their drink, hence our slogan; ‘do your bit with every sip’.

As a family, we had been on a safari in Sri Lanka a year before the launch of Arrowtown and got to see the magnificent elephants up close but also learn of the terrible figures relating to poaching. This naturally hit us hard and it only seemed right to partner with Tusk, who do truly amazing work.

When I was in New Zealand, I also was fortunate enough to have followed a pod of Orca which was awe-inspiring. However, again I was in disbelief that there were people out there illegally poaching these majestic creatures. Sea Shepherd are an incredible charity who directly tackle illegal whale poaching across the globe, so we are delighted to be working with them for our Lime & Elderflower flavour.

We donate 3% of all sales to our charity partners and subsequently have raised over £2,000 for our charities, which we hope to increase year on year as we grow.

What would be your ‘pitch’ to someone who hasn’t tried a hard seltzer before?

They are a light and refreshing alcoholic option, kind of like having a spritzer or fruity gin or tonic, without all the calories and sugars, so why not give a new trend a go so you can at least brag to your friends that you found them first.

Where can people buy your product locally?

We have a number of stockists across Sussex, ranging from pubs and bars, to farm shops and delis. The easiest way to try the drinks would be on our website as we have free shipping with every order – you can use WELCOME20 for 20% off. We can also be found on Amazon Prime.


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