Yorkshire brothers launch premium hard seltzer made from 'wonky' fruit

Two brothers who set up a premium hard seltzer brand made from ‘wonky’ fruit during the pandemic have launched the drinks across the UK.

Tom Henderson and his brother James, founded Yan Tan from their family home in Grinton, near Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales in 2020.

Hard seltzers - alcohol and flavoured sparkling water drinks - have been popular in the US for years but the UK is catching up and with the category forecast to reach around £600m by 2025.

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"It started out as a pet project during lockdown. James was aware of the enormous success of hard seltzers in the US and we wanted to do it over here," Tom told The Yorkshire Post.

Tom Henderson, co-founder of Yan Tan, based in Grinton, near Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales. Picture: Tony Johnson

The pair left their homes in London and returned to their parents' house during the first lockdown. James, 33 and already in the drinks trade, was on furlough.

"We’d both been thinking about doing a beer as a side hustle for a while but we thought let's just work on this hard seltzer idea instead, given there's a bit of a gap in the UK. James started putting together a rough business plan while he was on furlough," Tom said.

In October 2020, James returned to work and Tom, 31, left his property job to pursue the business full-time. By the following summer they had a name - Yan Tan, which means one two in Swardle (Swaledale dialect) - and a product.

They funded the business through business loans and selling equity in the business to investors who believed in the project.

Yan Tan has two flavours: elderflower and hawthorn, and damson and rhubarb, which are sold in glass bottles in independent shops and online.

Tom said: “We chose our flavour and bottling partners specifically because they use ‘wonky’ fruit - fruit that isn’t good looking enough to go into the supermarkets, to make the brand more sustainable.”

The pair plan to enter the premium bar and restaurant sector this summer.

"We're a premium product. We're the only ones in glass bottles in the UK market," said Tom. "The alcohol trade in general has been holding its breath for the last two years. Hard seltzers have been on the market but there hasn't been that big summer for people to create those memories with that product. We're hoping that this summer is going to be 'the one'."

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