Mackem gin queen returns home with '˜King of Soho'

A Sunderland-born entrepreneur is making waves in the gin world with her own brand of the trendy tipple.

Saturday, 6th August 2016, 8:00 am
Updated Saturday, 6th August 2016, 12:34 pm
Alex Robson

Alex Robson, who was raised in Houghton, launched King of Soho gin in 2013 with business partner Howard Raymond, son of legendary Soho club owner Paul Raymond.

Capitalising on the revival of the traditional spirit, business has boomed for the London dry gin which is stocked in famous stores Harrods and Fortnum & Mason, as well as in bars across the country.

King of Soho gin

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Alex will be bringing batches of the premium drink with her when she returns to her old stomping ground for the city’s first gin festival.

The first night of the House of Gin festival, which is being held at National Glass Centre later this month, was so successful it sold out hours after going on sale and organisers had to add a second date the following night.

Alex, whose late father Bill Robson was a GP at Sinclair, Robson and Locke in Houghton for 50 years before he retired in the ‘90s, says she jumped at the chance to return to Wearside.

The former Durham High School pupil said: “My formative years were spent in Houghton so I have many fond memories of the area and still have family who live there. I spotted the House of Gin event online and asked to be part of it. Although I live in London I’m very proud of my roots and I’m excited about coming home.”

King of Soho gin

After teaming up with Howard, Alex launched the King of Soho in tribute to his dad, Paul, an impresario and property mogul who was affectionately called The King of Soho due to his role in revolutionising the London district.

Famous for his entertainment venues, Paul became one of the richest men in Britain after opening the Raymond Revue Bar in 1957. 

The King of Soho quadruple-distilled gin, which uses 12 botanicals and has hints of citrus and grapefruit, also has strong links to the Capital.

Alex explained: “Our gin is distilled in London by an 11th generation master distiller, it was very important to us to have that tradition.”

In recent years, gin’s popularity has risen phenomenally, sparking a host of new brands and distilleries.

“We launched it just at the right time as the renaissance in gin entered its stride,” said Alex. “There are a lot of new gins coming to the market and smaller boutique gins. The revival is huge and there’s so much creativity involved.

“Gin used to be a drink of the ‘60s and ‘70s, then vodka took over and the focus moved away. Then there was a big investment in the bigger brands and you had new brands such as Hendricks coming out which helped inspire smaller distillers to be more imaginative with their flavour profiles.

“Vodka is a cleaner spirit, but with gin there are so many botanicals to play with that it’s really captured people’s imaginations. In turn, the tonic market has changed, you no longer just have to rely on Schweppes.

“There’s so much innovation that goes into gin and that’s what makes it exciting.”

In Sunderland, King of Soho is used in bars including Sam’s Bar in Sunniside, Arizona and Purple Bar at The Point and at The Borough in Vine Place. It’s also available to buy by the bottle in Fenwick, Newcastle.

•Tickets for the first night of the House of Gin festival at National Glass Centre on August 19 are sold out. However, there are a limited number of tickets remaining for the second night, which runs from 6pm to 11pm on August 20.

Advance tickets cost £9 and tokens can be purchased at the event for the drinks. Each token costs £5.50 but a card of four tokens can be purchased for £20