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Cardiff Entrepreneur’s Unique Spirit Underpins UK First

A Cardiff-based entrepreneur is ready to take the UK by storm, going all out to launch two sensational alcoholic tipples into the mainstream drinks market, having battled through all the challenges posed by Covid-19, to bring his product to fruition.

Harry Hewett spent the pre-Christmas period at various markets and events around South Wales, promoting a unique spirit and liqueur that has no equal in the UK, either in terms of taste or back-story. After this soft launch activity, he is ready to go big.

The product he has passionately steered through all the ups and downs of the past two years is called ‘Mahua’ and has truly become one of the loves of Harry’s life, ever since he stumbled across it in India. Not only does it offer a unique taste sensation – it also comes with its own drinking ritual, something Harry is determined to introduce alongside his products, so British drinkers can enjoy a holistic experience like no other.

But how did this man who is now set to get the UK party started in 2023, come to be the brains behind the launch of a drink that is centuries old, but which has never passed by the lips of the UK-based drinker?

Born to a Welsh father and Australian mother, in Wallaroo, Australia, Harry was brought up in towns and cities including Kadina, Berri and Adelaide, before starting work as a chef, pivoting into IT and then entering the corporate world.

Harry gave all that up in 1999, to go travelling in Asia, south-east Asia and Europe. Life only returned to the more mundane, back in employment as an IT consultant and property manager, following seven months of travelling, at the age of 34. The bug was always there to return to India.

In 2014, seven years after becoming a father, Harry did that, living in Goa for five years. During his time in India, he became aware of Mahua – a spirit with incredibly deep roots in Indian tribal culture, but one suppressed by the British colonials, who feared its power and saw it as a rival to gin.

He quickly saw the unique nature of Mahua – the only spirit in the world that is distilled from the flower of a tree. He recognised that this drink – just one of the products of the revered Mahua tree that gives the Adivasi tribe vital income – had something special to offer to the UK market, centuries after being driven underground by the Brits.

In 2019, Harry arrived in Cardiff, determined to bring Mahua to the UK. Five months of research went into the business plan for his new venture, Alkohl Ltd, with Harry looking at everything from bottle and label design, to where both Mahua spirit and Mahua liqueur could physically be distilled.

Having created the plan, he placed an order for Mahua flower in March 2020, just days before the first UK lockdown arrived and India shipping firms closed down, as part of contagion control. His Mahua shipment was well and truly scuppered, with no idea of when it might arrive in the UK.

Undaunted, he carried on working on what he could, creating branding, literature and more elements of his business plan. More frustrations were encountered along the way, when his unique and stylish bottles were delayed and social distancing made spraying them his desired matt black another challenge. Having overcome that, distressingly, a pallet of bottles was broken at the distribution warehouse, requiring a re-order and re-spraying. At this time, and with financial constraints too, it would have been easy to throw in the towel.

To get through this, Harry took on several jobs at once, including working as a pandemic delivery driver. That kept some income coming in and enabled him to carry on pursuing his dream, tiring though life was. He surrounded himself with people willing to help him progress with his plan and somehow stayed motivated, driven by the passion of the ultimate vision.

As the world eased itself out of the pandemic, Harry was finally able to access the raw ingredients required and start the distilling process, fine-tuning the product to the degree to which it delivers the authentic Mahua experience, with all that the UK palate will appreciate.

The product has been fermented and double distilled in South Wales, in collaboration with Brains Brewery and Hensol Castle Distillery. Both a spirit and a liqueur have been created, to provide UK drinkers with a choice of Mahua flower-based tipple, with black pepper spice and carried by a rich caramel body.

Nearly three years later, Harry has now tested the water with the products over the last few months and had a fantastic response to sampling. He is now ready to officially launch into the UK drinks market and expand his audience beyond South Wales.

Mahua spirit now sits in its stunning matt black bottle, adorned with purple label, carrying Indian motifs and conveying the rich history of Mahua within the Indian sub-continent. Mahua liqueur, on the other hand, is distinguished by a rich green label, again communicating heritage and authenticity.

A website alkkohl.com now makes the products available for purchase anywhere in the UK and Harry has his eyes on a few drinks awards over the next few years.