The story of No.1 Botanicals starts in a tiny Italian hamlet that, for a long time, hid a big secret. In Acciaroli, more than one in ten residents live to over 100 years old. Scientists from Rome’s La Sapienza University and the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine identified rosemary as the key ingredient added to their otherwise classically Mediterranean diet.

When David Spencer-Percival heard this story, he set out on a mission to capture the herb’s goodness within a new drink. He created No.1 Rosemary Water, the first single-extract botanical drink, and the adventure into the world of herbs began.

Throughout history, herbs such as meadowsweet, basil, sage and thyme have been used to flavour foods and drinks and to relieve ailments. According to legend, students in Ancient Greece wore garlands of rosemary around their necks to help them concentrate in exams, while meadowsweet was one of the forerunners of the Aspirin many of us use today. In fact, over
50 per cent of the drugs approved for medical use over the past 30 years are derived either directly or indirectly from plants.

No.1 Rosemary Water was well received, both in Britain and internationally. It was listed by mainstream retailers such as Waitrose and Marks & Spencer. Its success spurred David Spencer-Percival to spin out the concept.

He says, ‘People are looking for more from their soft drinks today, seeking out more sophisticated flavours while being more mindful of what they’re putting in their bodies than ever before.’

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Tasting, learning and immersing himself in the history and flavours of botanicals, David collaborated with the team at Blue Sky Botanics to select nine more herbs – each with its own history – that could harness the power of nature and become Rosemary’s new family. No.1 Botanicals, the world’s first collection of single-extract herbal drinks, launched in autumn 2018 at Harvey Nichols and Harrods: Basil, Fennel, Juniper, Lemon Verbena, Meadowsweet, Mint, Olive Leaf, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme.

As with No.1 Rosemary Water, the new botanical extract drinks contain no added sugar, preservatives, sweeteners, additives, artificial colours or flavours. The herbs go through a complex process of both cold and hot extraction, in order to preserve the fresh herb, capture the compounds and ingredients found in nature, and get them into the bottle.

The result is a collection of deliciously refreshing flavours, best served over ice: some sweet, some light, some earthy, but all of them delicate, aromatic and completely natural, with nothing added except lightly carbonated spring water.

David describes collaborating with the scientists at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew as an honour – and authentication of his collection by world experts in botanical science will certainly do No.1 Botanicals’ credentials no harm. As Professor Monique Simmonds, Deputy Director of Science at Kew, points out, ‘Kew has a long history of promoting a more natural approach to our everyday lives and the products that we consume.’

No.1 Botanicals represents an appealing alcohol-free alternative in an era that is witnessing a transformational shift towards natural health, alongside a much greater awareness of general wellbeing. ‘Still or sparkling’ just got a whole lot more interesting.


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