Flavor and storytelling come first for the makers of Rivi Gin, based here in Naples. Rivi Raspberry Honey Gin was released in April of 2021, followed by Rivi Pomelo Grapefruit, both made from botanicals and distillations along with a juniper heavy dry gin base. Fans soon insisted on an iteration of the original motherlode, a gin, well-rounded juniper-rich featuring hints of rosemary and lemon thyme from the storied farm in England along with botanicals of licorice, cassia, cardamon, almond, coriander and orris root. “The flavored gins came first and immediately gained traction,” says Aaron Sanson, Director of Sales for the Rivi Gin Company co-founded by his British friend and business partner, Fil Adams-Mercer. Fil has been a fan of Naples for more than three decades, here full-time for the last ten years.
Aaron has been doing business in and around Naples since 1981, having built a professional rapport with cocktail bars, restaurants and distributors, a sturdy foundation for Rivi Gin.
“Naples has been nothing but supportive for our business and we, in turn, try to support our retailers and bars with events, donations (after Hurricane Ian) and tastings. It’s a great place for our business,” says Aaron.
Florida is one the country’s top consumption states (“second or third,” says Aaron), so it’s a natural place to launch a gin business. And, with products made with all-natural flavors, the 80-proof gin is attractive to aficionados, as well as tasty, offering a clean flavor profile for discerning sippers and cocktail gurus. “The honey and raspberries that flavor our gins come from the estate where the distillery is located, with zero added sugars,” explains Aaron. “This keeps the proof high and the taste, clean.” Rivi Gin is a small batch gin, distilled in England and shipped to Florida where it’s locally bottled, labeled and distributed. That means just 300,000 cases each year are released, making the product not only more exclusive but also closely controlled with love and attention.
The brand is inspired by a rich history and colorful story. During the Scottish raid of Lancashire, England in 1138, local troops were recovering from defeat and were inspired to create a better mode of communication for future battles. “A local named Ranulph de Blundeville thought to light fires in towers that dot the rolling landscape including one on Rivington Pike,” says Fil. You’ll see its blazing profile on every bottle of Rivi Gin.
Now, Aaron and Fil are blazing trails, with 300 new accounts in 2022 including high-profile retailers like Total Wine and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. In 2023, they will expand into four other states, which means a mountain of paperwork and new relationships. Aaron is a master of both. Together, their story will weave a rich and delicious history of a gin, an idea born in Naples.