Image: Sarah Dougan (Founder) & James Espey OBE (Investor)
Slange Var is the brainchild of Sarah Dougan and Charles Beard. In 2016, Sarah wanted an alternative to wine to enjoy with the delicious meals cooked by her husband, Charles. Although the sugary alternatives to alcoholic drinks disappointed her, they spurred her into action. After experimenting with different ingredients, Sarah created a wonderful blend which she tested at Mindful Drinking events throughout the country with excellent feedback. The results is a drink to celebrate.
On the Slange Var team is one of the drink’s sector most successful brand marketers, James Espey, OBE, awarded for services to the Scotch Whisky Industry. James on why he invested in Slange Var, "I love the taste, the name and Sarah's story. She is committed to Slange Var and her mission to create a space that caters for those who aren’t drinking alcohol." - James Espey, OBE
Our mission is to create a world where non drinkers feel part of the party.
The culture where you ‘must have a drink’ is changing. People are more mindful of their decisions and appreciate choice when it comes to drinking. When you say “I’ll have a Slange Var”, we want you to discover a drink full of flavour, which you enjoy and feel good ordering.
In Scotland we are blessed with a remarkable, clean landscape. We take fresh water from The Trossachs and an award winning honey to add depth of flavour to Slange Var. Our limes come from Mexico and the very best ginger is ordered in from China. Together these fine ingredients blend to create a low sugar, alcohol free drink that delights the palate.
Prior to launch, we took Slange Var to Campden BRI, the food technology lab that’s used by some of the UK’s top food and drink manufacturers. Slange Var scored top marks during consumer trials.
We respect the environment that provides our ingredients and are committed to reinvesting profits into the reforestation of Scotland’s Caledonian Forest, where we are planting the Slange Var grove. This is part of our contribution to combatting climate change and maintaining the beauty of the Scottish countryside and its wildlife.
Rich in vitamins, Slange Var is over 20% lime juice, alcohol free, has 0% fat, 0% saturates, 0% salt and only contains 4% sugar.
Slange Var uses a drop of honey made from Scottish bees. These amazing creatures pollinate our plants, playing a vital role in our food supply. The recent decline of the honey bee population has been attributed to pollution, pesticides and climate change. To combat this, we and our customers have planted over 200 packets of wildflower seeds suited to the Scottish environment. When these seeds grow into flowers, they’ll provide the essential pollen and nectar bees require to thrive.
We also participate in the sponsorship of bee-hives with Plan Bee Ltd and the British Bee Keepers’ Association.
The Story So Far...
The name Slange Var is a Scottish toast in Gaelic meaning ‘Cheers – to your good health’. Sarah chose it because it captures the feeling we have when we sit down at the end of a long day and reward outselves with a glass of something special.
We created Slange Var for ourselves at first. On evenings when we were not drinking our customary glass of white wine we wanted something with the same interesting flavour as wine - but without the alcohol. The result was a drink made from freshly squeezed lime juice, cold pressed ginger juice, cyder vinegar and a hint of Scottish artisan honey to provide a velvety after-taste.
The drink worked very well for us, and became popular with our friends - who urged us to make it commercially available. In 2016 we took a poster stand at the Scotland Food and Drink show in Glasgow. We did the same as the creators of the Innocent brand did - shared samples with anyone passing by who would stop and asked ‘should we give up our day jobs for this?’. The answer from restauranteurs, mixologists, hoteliers, and even a celebrity chef was a clear ‘go for it’.
Through 2017 and 2018 we refined the product, worked out how to make it on a commercial scale and started to develop the brand. We did this travelling throughout the land to trade shows and fairs, listening to people from all walks of life give their opinions. There were some surprises; for example we developed the product to be a ‘grown up’ product - a refreshing alternative to the sugary and ‘childish’ soft drinks commonly available. When children tried the drink, almost as many of them as the adults were delighted by the taste of Slange Var! We found people using Slange Var for all sorts of things in addition to a premium non alcoholic drink; a restaurant made a delicious sorbet from it, a cheffy friend made a great sauce for white fish, mixologists loved its versatility as a mixer for gin, vodka, run and of course whisky.
Many wonderfully creative and generous people have helped us along the way. Camden BRI
helped us develop the product and ran consumer taste panel test for nine months. Over that period the tests gave 100% 10/10 scores for all nine months. Our first investor was the illustrious drinks entrepreneur James Espey OBE
, ex chair of Chivas and responsible for the emergence of many famous drinks brands including Malibu and Baileys Irish Cream. Laura and Jussi of Club Soda,
champions of the mindful drinking movement, provided us with wonderful insights into what people expect from a premium alcohol free drink.
They were attracted by Slange Var’s position as a non-alcoholic drink that is as lovingly made and complex as a fine wine or a single malt whisky. We believe Slange Var will do you no harm at all - so can be enjoyed with no element of a guilty conscience. It contains no alcohol, almost no sugar and almost no calories. It contains healthy ingredients like fresh ginger and cyder vinegar, but most of all we think it is just a truly delicious and interesting drink you can enjoy any time you like.
Sarah and Charles, November 2019
"Cheers, I'll have a Slange Var."