St Maur is a premium elderflower liqueur handcrafted in the Heart of England from responsibly sourced ingredients, with flavours gathered in ancient family owned woodlands and which is gaining an international following. St Maur is the creation of William and Kelsey Seymour, Earl and Countess of Yarmouth, and produced from their farm and woodlands in Warwickshire. Paul Andrews caught up with them to find out more.
Arriving at the farm on a beautiful spring day, this fledgling family business is situated in the heart of England, a quintessentially British location close to the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The perfect setting for an iconic and quintessentially British tipple too.
Kelsey and William first produced St Maur for their wedding celebrations at Ragley Hall back in 2018.
As Kelsey explains, “We wanted a wedding that was fun but with a British family feel with good friends, good food, music and dancing and wanted a drink to make the event special too. Using the wild blossoms from the local elderflowers we created St Maur.”
“We first produced St Maur for our guests on our wedding day, to mix as a reception drink in a royale style cocktail with English sparkling wine, to celebrate with us with a glass of something uniquely special. We wanted a drink that would capture the spirit of that lovely day. Drawing on old family recipes handed down on my Mother’s side we created St Maur, and we named it after the Seymour family heritage which goes back to the Middle Ages. We gave it the colour of love,” explains Kelsey.
As William continues, “We made St Maur to share, to cherish the moment and make it a memory, for a halcyon summer’s day spent with those we love and those we love to be with. St Maur invokes the essence of good friendship, happiness, and enjoyment. So, wherever your love takes you, and whatever your love brings you, we want you to share in the spirit of St Maur too.”
The seeds had been sown for what is fast becoming an internationally renowned drink. Unmistakable from the pour, floral with citrus and notes of red fruit, St Maur balances on the palette with a long, pleasing finish.
Delightful when sipped on its own and supreme in a variety of cocktails, St Maur is perfect for an English Martini and ideal for creating probably the best Hugo drink in the world, the Hugo St Maur!
Following on from the success of the drink at their wedding Kelsey and William decided to make a go of turning their creation into a business. The idea for the family business had been born and it was time to turn the concept into reality.
Fast forward to 2022 and that is exactly what has happened. The family has grown, with the arrival of two delightful children, family members have been roped in and the business is growing.
William is the eldest son of the Marquess of Hertford, and grew up at Ragley Hall, his family’s seat since the 18th century. The brand name St Maur comes from the surname used by his family in medieval times, but by the time Jane Seymour married Henry VIII the name had changed.
Every family business has a back story, a narrative that helps define the family, the business and support the brand. Not every family firm has a back story quite as splendid as St Maur and William and Kelsey are keen to incorporate the heritage into the brand too.
“The wild blossoms used to make St Maur are hand-picked, on our farm and on some parcels of land that were passed to me directly from my grandfather Hugh, the eighth Marquess,” explains William.
“Many come from the ancient woodlands in the shadows of trees which grew when my ancestors were young and we have used the co-ordinates of Ladies Wood on the edge of the Ragley estate which hosts a grove where we gather elderflowers in the summer to feature on the bottle. There is also a red-legged partridge on the bottle, a bird that was successfully introduced to England in the 19th century by another of my ancestors, Francis Seymour, the fifth Marquess, and now is the brand’s mascot,” he continues.
Plenty of thought and consideration underpins the very essence of the brand and how it is presented.
William and Kelsey are actively involved in all stages of the business too. As Kelsey adds, “We personally hand-pick our own elderflowers from the hedgerows and woodland groves around the farm, making sure that they are picked at the prime time to provide the best flavour, which often means early morning starts. We also get involved in making the drink, promoting it at various events and shows, locally and further afield, and enjoy every aspect of our growing business.”
With a move from London, marriage and the arrival of a young family, settling into a life running a farm, and at the same time launching a new business has meant a lot of juggling for them all.
“It is a journey that we are totally embracing,” adds Kelsey. “We have support from my family and our friends to help and it is fantastic to see the product grow and demand for St Maur to continue to rise. Within 18 months of launching St Maur, it won a Great Taste Award, Best in Class at the World Liqueur Awards, and Gold at the Las Vegas Global Spirits Awards and continues to win awards to this day. We are on a fabulous journey with St Maur and it is exciting to see what the next stages in the journey will unveil,” she adds.
What began with a drink for their wedding has really taken off and the world is taking notice. William and Kelsey work hard to continue to build the brand with their underlying aim to ‘bring a little drop of England’s heart with every sip’ and there can be no question that they are achieving their aim.
Developing a responsible business with a purpose and desire to do business in the right way underpins what this family business is all about.
“In creating St Maur we have been inspired by the past, but in starting our business we are committed to the future. At St Maur we don’t think it is enough for any business just to ‘do no harm’ any more, or merely to be socially conscious or aware. We believe our footprint should leave the world a better place, and we are setting out to build our brand to fit that mould. The world still has a lot to learn about responsible business, yet there are many inspiring leaders. It is our commitment to seek to join them,” concludes William.
The heritage behind the brand crafts an additional piece of legacy with the drink itself being created from elderflowers grown in woodlands and hedgerows that were planted by ancestors and previous generations, and where William grew up and played as a child.
The narrative behind the brand is truly beautiful and the entrepreneurship and drive of William and Kelsey is palpable. With wider family support this feels like the start of an exciting journey and we will be watching to see how the story unfolds.
What is clear to all is that ‘each little drop of England’s heart’ is quintessentially British in nature, crafted with real authenticity, passion and a desire to share something that was created for a special family event for the wider community to enjoy.
What better way to spend a lazy afternoon under the summer sun, sipping a quintessentially British cocktail that has been lovingly crafted by hand with hand picked elderflowers from the heart of the English countryside?
Long may the fabulous ‘spirit of St Maur’ live on.
Find out more by visiting their website here