Gin disruptor Simon Ford’s wild ride as entrepreneur

Simon Ford founder Fords Gin

Fords Gin was founded in 2012 by drinks industry veteran Simon Ford, on the premise of creating the ultimate gin for use in cocktails.

Now when I initially heard about that concept, my reaction was, how is that different to other gins already on the market?

Aren’t they all designed for mixing?

It felt like saying you’ve created the ultimate frankfurt for use in hot dogs.

Simon sets me straight this episode as he explains the serious R&D that went into Fords Gin using 150 bartender mates as a consultation panel.

Working with 11th-generation distiller Charles Maxwell to balance the botanical recipe, Simon had the bartenders involved in every step, from the liquid to the shape of the bottle.

In doing so, they sought to reverse engineer the most practical and versatile cocktail gin in the business.

Many of those same bartenders – including King Cocktail himself, the legendary Dale DeGroff – effectively became ambassadors for Fords when they invested their life savings into the company to get it off the ground.

Fords Gin was sold to Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman in 2019, but there were plenty of moments where Simon questioned his decision to leave a cushy job at Pernod Ricard for the risky pursuit of spirits entrepreneur.

It’s an unglamorous tale of sleeping on couches, indirect budget flights, constantly running out of money and – at one stage – almost losing the business altogether.

This is a special episode of Drinks Adventures, created in partnership with Fords Gin.

Settle in as we hear about Simon’s exhilarating and exhausting journey, plus his insights on the cocktail renaissance and gin’s crazy evolution over the last decade.

Click here to open episode in your podcast player.