spirits advocacy

Brand advocacy is as important now as it's ever been. Boots-on-the-ground passion is infectious, and there's no better way to get people excited about your product, your story, and you. Whether a pop-up tasting in a farm shop, or sitting down with bar managers across the two counties (and beyond), advocates are an essential choice for any brand that is looking to expand their reach.

My name is Chris Bird, and prior to working full-time as The Spirit Advocate (and single-handedly designing, developing and maintaining this site), I worked as Client Relationship Manager for Difford's Guide, and a bar manager for a boutique 30 bedroom hotel in Devon.

introduction to southwest spirits

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When the idea for this website was first conceived, it was designed with one primary focus; to produce a platform which would contain every single spirit available in Devon and Cornwall. It's an on-going goal, and one that changes with every new release, whether a limited edition bottling, or a new producer.

The benefit however, is two-fold. Of course, having a site that contains every product available is perfect for a consumer looking for a new tipple or the perfect gift. But with the generation of interest from our readers comes a unique opportunity, an opportunity for any distillery to be found, and to be found on a level playing field, where the big-players appear next to the smaller ones.

No barrier-to-entry was of upmost importance. That's why I researched and discovered the products myself, regardless of size of distillery or range of products... if you are producing a distilled spirit, you have a place in Southwest Spirits. 

Southwest Spirits was designed, built, and is still run exclusively by myself. There will never be a barrier to entry, all producers of spirits in Devon and Cornwall are welcome.

my history

Prior to working as a spirits advocate full time, I was Client Relationship Manager for Difford's Guide, one of the world's largest collections of information on cocktails. My role involved liaising with clients on a range of matters, including developing marketing strategies from seed through to fruition, cocktail sponsorship, advertising, and finding new leads. 

Before my work as Client Relationship Manager, I was Bar Manager at a 30 bedroom, boutique hotel near Honiton, Devon, known as the Pig at Combe. It was over my years here that I developed an in-depth knowledge of alcoholic products - which included taking my WSET level 2 in spirits, followed by wine - and developed a love of local spirits, seasonal produce and the area in which I lived.

Although rare for a bar manager to do, I would often approach brands that I wanted to give a spot on my bar shelf. Meetings with brand ambassadors or owners were a weekly occurrence, and in-between managing my team and bartending, I would fit in as many distillery tours and brewery trips as I could. This was the best part of the job: discovering a small producer with a brilliant product, and bringing that to 'the masses'. Looking back, I wish I had a website like Southwest Spirits to go to, where I could have discovered all of the distilleries local to me and the spirits that they produced. 

The most exciting people that came into my bar would have two things. First of all (and I don't think many ambassadors would survive without this) is passion. A real love for what they do. Secondly, it was those that came in with a range of products. These were the ones that I could really sink my teeth into and bounce off. Ambassadors from Diageo, Pernod-Ricard, Berry Brothers & Rudd, would all arrive with a parcel of products, and I would try rum, gin, vodka, wine, liqueur, vermouth, you name it. The excitement generated from trying a range of products was second-to-none, and for the ambassador to speak passionately about these products was the icing on the cake. 

This is where I developed the idea for a freelance advocate role in Devon and Cornwall. I wanted to put these spirits from smaller producers out for everyone to see. Putting them onto my bar and talking to guests and training my team was the best I could do back then. After moving on to Difford's Guide, and learning the ropes for B2B, through 2019 and 2020, I spent my days developing my idea until it became a reality. 

become a part of the spirits advocate portfolio

A slot in my portfolio of spirits will ensure the reach of your product is extended to a wide range of clients. From independently owned shops, to bars, restaurants, cafes, and more. My approach is tailored to each individual products needs, and each week you will receive an update on who was approached, and what was accomplished.

Alongside a spot in the Spirits Advocate portfolio, your product will take prime position as an ingredients in my Southwest cocktail creations, to be shared on social media for Southwest Spirits, alongside appearing at the first result for any searches on Southwest Spirits involving your product.

Slots withing the portfolio are available for £400 on a month-by-month basis, or £3,800 annually. Please get in touch to find out more. You can get hold of me at: chris@southwestspirits.co.uk