At the beginning of this year, The Saint’s Features Editor Angus Neale sat down with St Andrews’ newest recruits, Toby and Jonah Lowenstein, to discuss their entrepreneurial venture: The St Andrews Gin Society.
After a year packed with gin-themed events such as their iconic Maiden Event and memorable Prohibition Dinner, the Lowenstein brothers have decided to pass the mantle to second-year student Flora Williams-Ellis.
The Saint sat down with Ms Williams-Ellis to discuss the plans she has for this forthcoming year and everything the Gin Society will have to offer for St Andrews’ gin enthusiasts and sceptics alike.
The Gin Society spent the last year building a strong foundation in the Fife coastal town and gathering a legion of gin-enthusiasts. Their events were extremely well-received, with their first party, The Maiden Event, selling out in only 34 seconds.
Their distinct “First Kiss: St Andrews Edition” video made waves throughout town, receiving over 100,000 views and being the topic of conversation on everyone’s lips. It was also featured in publications like The Tab and The Saint, as well as making it onto various Facebook pages in St Andrews.
Their next event the following semester, The Prohibition Dinner, established itself in a league of its own, bringing something unprecedented to the St Andrews social scene. With a three-course meal, a plethora of gin varieties courtesy of their sponsor Edinburgh Gin, a magician, Instagram-worth photo booths, cabaret dancers and a unique Gatsby theme complete with fairy lights and flapper dresses as well as music from local artist Ben Hawken, the dinner ended the year on a high note and left the town excited for what would come next.
Working in event design last year, Ms Williams-Ellis’ creativity and attention to detail made her a stellar candidate to take on the challenge of offering immersive experiences to students in St Andrews.
Under Mrs Williams-Ellis’ management, the Gin Society has a brand-new committee featuring students throughout the University working in partnership on design, marketing, music and more.
Ms Williams-Ellis is eager to build on the high standard for events established last year, noting that the Gin Society “has its foot firmly on the St Andrews events ladder” as a society that offers experiences “from the first Gin and Tonic to the last sweet.”
It is important for Ms Williams-Ellis and her committee to maintain the core ethos of the society to craft “beautifully curated” and aesthetically pleasing events while offering something fresh and unprecedented in a town with a brimming social calendar.
Hosting a variety of events this coming year, both big raves and more intimate gatherings, the new and improved Gin Society will continue pushing the boundaries of creativity and collaborate with big names in the gin industry to redefine the idea of a night out in St Andrews.
At the same time, the aims of the Gin Society have “reformed” over the last year. While they will continue the traditions of gin-fuelled dancing and entertainment in celebration of a common love for gin, there are new things in store.
One of the most significant changes introduced by the Gin Society is their decision to affiliate with a charity and donate proceeds from their events to charitable causes.
Each event will support a different charity as a significant proportion of profits from events will be dedicated to promoting the charity’s goals and offering funding (with the rest of the profits recycling back into funding future Gin Society events).
This semester’s upcoming event will sponsor “Create”, a London-based creative arts charity that aims to empower people through the creative arts. To achieve this, the charity works across several different platforms; from running creative workshops in community settings (such as schools, prisons and hospitals) to donating art supplies to schools which receive minimal funding.
The charity supports a range of vulnerable groups of utmost priority, from disabled children and marginalised individuals such as refugees and homeless people to school children in disadvantaged areas and carers of disabled people.
Since its conception over fifteen years ago in 2003, Create has touched the lives of over 31,000 children and adults alike from disadvantaged and difficult circumstances. The charity has run over 6,500 workshops throughout the United Kingdom, from Glasgow to Suffolk.
Ranging in a plethora of creative arts, from film-making, visual arts and drama to creative writing and photography, Create attempts to foster a love for the creative industry and support budding artists in any field to remove barriers that may restrict their creative abilities.
This is a fitting charity for the Gin Society, which embodies ideas of creativity and self-expression through its events and design. It is a significant step forward for the Gin Society as the society will provide a valuable platform to raise money for meaningful charity work.