52. Renais Spirits Ltd

Renais Spirits is a family-owned sustainable gin brand that’s inspired by the terroir and tradition of Burgundy.

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Sustainability Award Shortlisted

In recognition of a sustainability leader that prioritises the health of the planet as part of its company mission.

Startups 100: Sustainability Award

Founders: Alex Watson and Emma Watson
Year founded: 2022
Website: renais.co.uk

Celebrity-backed spirits were a big winner in 2023. From One Direction’s Zayn Malik to actor Mark Wahlberg, it felt like every celeb tried their hand at distilling, as producers realised how lucrative a famous face can be for brand value.

From this cynical standpoint, it would be easy to discount Renais Spirits as yet another Hollywood hooch. Yes, it may be linked to Emma Watson, but there is no mistaking that Renais Spirits is a challenger, not a chaser.

Emma’s name might headline Renais’ high-flying media features, but Alex Watson is the driving force behind the startup. After working in the drinks industry for a decade, Alex saw a gap in the market for a luxury libation with modern values.

Drawing on the family's rich winemaking heritage, the Watson siblings poured their Burgundy region passion into every Renais bottle.

Filled to the brim with inspiration, he took the idea to his sister, who instantly saw his vision. “Emma gave me the moral support I needed to start the business,” Alex recalls.

Emma’s enthusiasm was understandable, given the siblings’ background. Their father, Chris, is a respected Chablis wine producer who owns the vineyards where Renais’ flavouring grape lees are grown.

Drawing on the family's rich winemaking heritage, the Watson siblings poured their Burgundy region passion into every Renais bottle. The fruit of their labour is a uniquely flavoured, authentic gin brand that is refreshing the traditional spirits sector.

To minimise waste, the startup’s flagship product, Renais Gin, uses upcycled grape skins as its base spirit instead of grain. By sourcing its botanicals in this ethical and non-wasteful way, Renais is setting new sustainable standards for others to follow.

Having gained major listings in Selfridges, Scarfes, and Soho House, Renais Spirits is proof that a green label does more than look pretty in the spirits cupboard.

Both founders share a passion for environmentalism (Emma is also a campaigner for fair trade and ethical standards in the fashion industry) and Renais Spirits uses various innovative methods to keep conservation at its core.

On top of a unique, waste-free base spirit, Renais Gin is boxed up using Mushroom® Packaging. As a neat solution to the plastic problem, the material is naturally biodegradable at home in under 50 days.

To add a final twist, Renais is also proudly carbon neutral. At the time of writing, it has offset 176,620 KG of carbon, according to its accredited impact partner, ClimatePartner.

Having gained major listings in Selfridges, Scarfes, and Soho House (it also won the latter’s Breakthrough Entrepreneur of the Year award), Renais Spirits is proof that a green label does more than look pretty in the spirits cupboard – it can also positively impact flavour.

Coming in at number 52 in our Startups 100, Renais (named from the French word ‘renaissance’ meaning rebirth) is poised to bring a new era of carbon-conscious drinking to the nation’s gin glasses this year. Chin chin!

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