In Conversation with Emily Richards Founder of Caru Spirits

Premium brandy, Caru is the creation and passion of Emily Richards a young, female entrepreneur who is by trade a qualified landscape architect. Emily has (so far) spent most of her adult life travelling and as a result has a great interest in the connection between landscape, people, culture and community – all of which have helped shape the creation of Caru. Read on to discover more. 

Please tell us how (and when) the idea for Caru came about. 

The idea for Caru came about during the second wave of lockdowns in 2020. I was stranded in Valencia by myself for Christmas, house-sitting a cabin in the woods for some friends who were equally stranded abroad. I had been experimenting through the autumn with making limoncello and arancello from their garden and decided to try a brandy-based liqueur as a bit of a comforting drink that would remind me of Christmas at home in Wales and that I could also post out as presents to friends and family. I used the oranges from the garden, vanilla, Spanish brandy as a base, sugar and ginger – hoping for a gingerbread old-fashioned effect. I enjoyed the process so much and it was so well received that I decided to explore developing it into something that more people could enjoy.

And the journey so far…….

The journey so far has been a huge learning curve but equally a lot of fun! As a small brand owner, you have to do everything yourself so I’ve had to try and learn sales, marketing, brand design, business management, and accounting all at the same time in an industry that I knew very little about prior to starting Caru ( apart from being an enthusiastic consumer obviously)… so there have been a lot of challenges of course but it’s been so much fun and really rewarding, especially when you see people enjoying and appreciating your creation.  I have got a lot planned this year to try and bring Caru to more people – so exciting times to come!

You are both a qualified landscape architect and a successful business lady in the premium drinks industry. How do the two roles intertwine/complement one another?  

Haha, I’m not sure I would describe myself as a successful business lady! (But thank you ????) Interesting question, I think there is quite a bit of crossover. In both roles, you are curating an experience for people, with the intention of hopefully improving or enhancing people’s lives in some way – as a landscape architect this is through space and movement/use through the space – as a drinks brand creator it is through taste and the drinking experience, but both are a designed sensory experience. Both require you as the creator to be able to imagine yourself from another person’s perspective and decide how you can curate the experience for that person, what emotions you want to evoke when they taste Caru or walk along that path. The creativity involved in being a designer has been a helpful tool in founding a new brand and business as well. In Caru I’m a jack of all trades but as a landscape architect, I’m a more focused consultant so I find it a nice balance of pace and learning. 

Describe a typical day for you – if such a thing exists! 

Such a thing does not exist, it all depends on the day.  Workwise I am still balancing both being a landscape architect and running Caru so Monday to Friday I am mostly desk-based and dedicating my time to Caru in the evenings and then at weekends I’m out promoting Caru at markets and trade fairs. In my personal life I do try to run most days so that is a constant – as is a glass of wine/Caru before bed!

The connection between landscape, people, culture and community has helped shape the creation of Caru – please can you elaborate on what you mean by this?

When I say connection to landscape people culture and community it is something similar to the concept of the ‘slow food’ movement. The slow food movement is about understanding the importance of keeping variety in an increasingly globalised world. ‘Slow food’ as in opposite to ‘fast food’ is food that is local and made in traditional ways. The movement values the differences in regional dishes and the time put into creating something of quality.

Regional foods and drinks are the direct products of the landscapes from which they are grown, the way traditional foods are prepared is directly related to the communities of people who have spent hundreds of years in that region refining techniques of how best to prepare the produce of their homeland. This creates a regional cultural identity linked directly to the landscape. The products of a region are also intrinsic to regional traditions, ceremonies and culture and create a sense of belonging to your community – the taste and feeling of home. 

Caru is obviously a new drink and doesn’t carry the same weight as a drink refined over hundreds of years but the thinking behind it is the same. The product is made from locally sourced wine and honey and the flavours are inspired by the flavours of home and hundred-year-old recipes in Wales, directly linking the landscape to a taste of culture and evoking a feeling of ‘home’ and belonging.

Caru has been developed with sustainability at the core of its values. Please tell us how this has been achieved and how it will continue to be fostered. 

We have a commitment to using only locally sourced surplus wine as a base that we distil ourselves to become the brandy as opposed to importing a base spirit to blend. All other ingredients and packaging as far as possible are sourced from within the UK and the distilling, maturing, blending and bottling all take place on one site – so the carbon footprint is low. To continue to be a sustainable brand the intention is to keep Caru artisanal so we can keep doing things as we do now – by hand and with local ingredients. This also ensures it remains premium and special.

Describe Caru in three words.  

Delicious (of course), syrupy and strong!

How do you prefer to drink Caru?  

My favourite way to drink Caru is straight over ice with a slice of fresh orange.

Who is the typical Caru drinker? 

I used to think we had a typical ‘customer’ but over the last year, one of the things I’ve learnt is that there really is no typical Caru drinker! I suppose if I had to say it would be someone who appreciates layers of flavours, something different and special and has a little bit of a sweet tooth but likes a drink.

The journey so far for Caru has been an exciting one – what’s next? 

We’ve got quite a few events planned this year in addition to the usual trade shows we are doing a lot of festivals and music events which will be fun. We are also looking to design a menu paired with Caru for one of our events so that will be really interesting!  

Luxury is highly subjective – what does it mean to you? 

For me, luxury is about quality and experience. It takes time to create and perfect something and I think that is what luxury is – something that has had time put into perfecting it.  

What is your life motto? If you have one. 

Everything will be ok and even if it is not, it will still be ok!

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