Humdinger Gin: Crafting Drinks is in our Blood

Humdinger Gin: Crafting Drinks is in our Blood

Making drinks is in our blood. As the co-founder of Humdinger Gin, along with my wife, Saskia Lewis, my passion for crafting beverages is deeply rooted in my family's history, thanks to my Great Great Grandfather, Alfred Maurice Lewis. His remarkable journey in the beverage business has left a lasting impression on us.

Alfred was born on June 28, 1862, in London. At a young age, he started working with a friend of his father who made aerated waters. This was his first step into the beverage world, working long hours but learning a lot. Just like Alfred, I found my passion in making gin, although I started as a professional engineer.

Alfred’s skills in beverage making were second to none. Whether making soda water or creating award-winning non-alcoholic brews, he was always ahead of his time. He even won first prize at a big competition in London, beating out 33 other manufacturers from around the world. His dedication to quality and innovation truly inspires us at Humdinger Gin.

When Alfred arrived in New Zealand in 1880, he quickly secured a position in a soda water factory. His expertise was so valued that he was often needed to keep factories running efficiently. He worked at Messrs Strike & Fairlie's Soda Water Works in Wellington and was later sent to Nelson to operate their plant. Alfred's knack for running beverage factories smoothly and improving their efficiency made him an invaluable asset.

Alfred eventually bought and ran his own beverage business in Dunedin, and later returned to Wellington to manage another soda water company. His entrepreneurial spirit led to the formation of Thomson Lewis & Company, a successful partnership that thrived under his leadership. Alfred's ability to innovate and manage beverage production was truly remarkable for his time. Thomson Lewis & Co., became Wellington’s major soft drink producer. Their site on Tory Street produced popular beverages like Thomson Lewis Lemonade, Soda Water, and the famous Camroc Dry Ginger Ale. Alfred’s ingenuity was evident when he became convinced there was artesian water running underneath Tory Street. He hired Bill Brogden, a renowned water diviner, to locate the water. Although Brogden couldn't estimate the depth, Alfred’s faith led him to employ the Richardson Drilling Company to drill a test bore. After drilling to a depth of 497 feet, they struck pure artesian water.

This water supply was a game-changer for Thomson Lewis & Co., providing them with a continuous flow of pure, tasteless, and odorless water, capable of flowing at 500 gallons an hour. This water was used to produce aerated soft drinks for the next 53 years until the business was purchased by Coca-Cola. The bore was eventually capped, but the water remains accessible today inside the Moore Wilson building.

Alfred’s entrepreneurial spirit led to the growth and success of Thomson Lewis & Co. The business thrived, and in 1981, after over 90 years of production, the company was bought by Coca-Cola.

At Humdinger Gin, we have complex protocols for making each of our gins as we respect the craft and science while making the best gins possible. These steps reflect the meticulous methods Alfred used, ensuring every bottle is crafted with care and passion.

In short, making drinks is more than just a job for us; it’s a family tradition. Alfred Maurice Lewis’s journey from a young apprentice in London to a successful beverage maker in New Zealand is a testament to the hard work and innovation that drives us. At Humdinger Gin, we proudly carry on this legacy, crafting premium gins that reflect our rich heritage. Here’s to Alfred and the craftsmanship that flows through every bottle of Humdinger Gin!