Northumberland's Marlish Water Talk Renewable Energy and their Latest Soft Drink Flavour
Deliciously different, full of flavour and straight for the source - that's what Marlish Waters is all about
Tell us about your background and how Marlish began.
Post university I had a job lined up with a global pharma company, and to be totally honest, I had ‘the fear’. The corporate world didn’t feel right for me and my goal had always been to work for myself. Luckily, my apprehensions were very well-timed as my cousin Elizabeth had just discovered a spring water source on her farm near Morpeth. We started testing the water and were thrilled to discover that the quality was excellent.
The farm has been in the family for decades, so you could say that Marlish was in my blood. However, getting the business off the ground wasn’t a quick or easy process. We were determined to produce a product that was as good quality and sustainable as possible, so we spent years researching, testing, and analysing so that we could ultimately build a factory on the farm that would allow us to package our water at source.
Talk us through the process.
Sourced in the hills of Northumberland, our spring water is a completely sustainable resource which is naturally replenished by rainwater falling on the Northumbrian hills. This water takes over 150 years to slowly filter through the rock strata – which is how it acquires its unique purity and taste – before we extract it and put it straight into the can or bottle. Nothing is added and nothing is taken away.
Sustainability has always been a big part of Marlish, why is that?
Ultimately, Marlish is a family business, so it’s up to us to look after it and protect it. Elizabeth has dedicated her life to the farm and we want it to be here for future generations. We also feel a great responsibility towards the environment in general. We are so fortunate to have such an incredible natural resource on our farm, so we cannot and will not use it irresponsibly. Sustainability was built into the brand from day one and will always be at the heart of everything we do.
How have you ensured sustainability so far?
Step one was building the factory on site so that we could produce and package at the source of the spring water. By doing this first we were able to eradicate so many unnecessary road miles from the get-go, as the water doesn’t need to be transported to an outsourced bottler, we do it all ourselves on the farm.
Next up we installed the solar panels, to help supply energy to the factory. We installed solar energy pretty early on in our journey as we knew the factory would require a lot of power and we wanted to make sure we were supplying the factory as responsibly as possible.
Then there’s the ever-growing tree planting programme. If you were to visit the farm today, you’d more than likely find Elizabeth out in the fields (come rain or shine) planting trees and re-wilding. To date she has planted upwards of 6,000 trees!
Finally, we are 100 percent plastic free. Our products either come in glass bottles or cans, but never plastic. We prefer to lean towards aluminium cans as they’re infinitely recyclable, and have just launched four of our tonics and mixers range in a new 150ml can format.
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And you recently moved all production to 100 percent renewable energy?
We wanted to do it from day one but installing a three-phase power supply is an incredibly difficult and expensive process in rural Northumberland, so we had to wait until we were in a position to be able to go for it. As I mentioned, we’d had the solar system from the start but as we started to grow, we inevitably needed more energy to power the factory. Finally, we felt ready to make the leap and delve into the project that was becoming a 100 percent renewable energy brand, and in April we managed it. We can finally say that all Marlish products are now produced using 100 percent renewable energy – a milestone Elizabeth and I are both hugely proud of.
Is your mission to eventually become carbon-neutral?
Absolutely, yes. But we want to become carbon-neutral on our own merit, so that we are self-sufficient. This means no buying trees in far-flung places or carbon credits. It’s our own trees, on our own land and our own carbon off-setting. It might take us a bit longer than we’d like, but we’d like the journey to be an authentic one.
You also create tonics and mixers. What makes those so unique?
Firstly, it’s got to be our spring water base. Our entire range of tonics and mixers use our spring water as a base, so they still retain that Marlish quality. In fact, our English Tonic Water won Gold at the 2022 Spirits Business Tonic & Mixer Masters. The range is also all low calorie so there’s no separate diet version of each product, as they’re already so low in calories.
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Tell us about the new flavour of spring water you’re releasing this summer.
I’m thrilled to announce that we will be launching Sparkling Pink Grapefruit this summer and it really is summer in a can. It’s light and refreshing and at less than seven calories, it’s the perfect stand-alone soft drink or mixer for the health conscious drinker. I can’t wait to get it out there and see the reception.
What’s next for Marlish?
In our immediate pipeline our focus is on getting the new Pink Grapefruit flavour ready and out to the market, alongside our new 150ml canned range of tonics and mixers. It’s been a full-on year in terms of production and product development, and things certainly aren’t slowing down on that front, so watch this space!
What’s your favourite Marlish product and how do you like to serve it?
Brazilian Orange Spring Water, served on its own, straight out of the can! It’s so refreshing.
What’s your drink of choice?
It would have to be a Paloma, using our new Pink Grapefruit of course!
Favourite place to dine out?
Jasper’s Bistro in Amble.
A hidden gem in the North East?
Can I say same again? Jasper’s Bistro!
Best thing about the North East?
100 percent it’s the people. Friendly, down to earth and always with a cracking sense of humour.