Rugby veterans debut gin brand

by Georgie Collins

Former England rugby players Mike Tindall and James Haskell, alongside television presenter Alex Payne, have launched Blackeye Gin, the ‘unofficial spirit of rugby’.

The three founders have partnered with Berkshire-based gin maker Hawkridge Distillers to create Blackeye’s recipe, which is said to boast a blend of fresh citrus-forward flavours, subtle floral notes, and a burst of juniper, rounded off with a combination of botanicals hailing from each of the rugby nations. Tindall commented: "We’re thrilled to be launching Blackeye Gin. It’s been a journey full of challenges, but a whole lot of fun too. James, Alex, and I have had various battles along the way – both on and off the pitch – and the name reflects the physical and emotional resilience and kinship we share. “I think it really captures the essence of what this brand is all about – for those who give their best even when times are hard, and celebrate the good times.” The trio has developed the brand with the aim of supporting the future of rugby, creating the Blackeye Fund with the backing of an advisory board and support from members of the global rugby community. The fund will invest £1.50 (US$2) from each bottle sold to support its three key pillars: research, risk, and recovery, for rugby players past and present. The goal of the fund is to tackle industry issues and become one of the largest donors to rugby-related causes within the next five years. The 40% ABV Blackeye Gin is said to have been born out of the overwhelming enthusiasm from the listeners of the founders’ podcast, The Good, The Bad, & The Rugby, who initially made the suggestion to create a gin. Blackeye Gin takes its name from the physical nature of the game, as well as the spirit of ‘riding the storm and celebrating the sunshine’. The brand is a product from Campari Group-backed Catalyst Spirits, and is distributed by Maverick Drinks. It will be available to buy at Master of Malt, selected Sainsbury’s stores, and online at for RRP £35.95 (US$46), with further worldwide stockists to be announced ahead of the Rugby World Cup in September. Last week, Union XV unveiled its own rugby-inspired gin, which utilises ingredients sourced from every continent around the world. Last year, four former Welsh rugby players launched Perthyn, a lower-alcohol 'spirit' crafted with botanicals local to Cardiff Distillery.

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