Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Town’s trader in good spirits

Budleigh Salterton has always prided itself on the number of its specialist shops, providing that little extra bit of service to customers, and James Findlay certainly includes his among them.   Occupying a prime position on the town’s  High Street, Budleigh Wines offers a vast range of drinks to suit every customer’s palate.

The latest to join the growing number of Corporate Friends of Fairlynch, 25-year-old James is a keen supporter of the Museum because of his interest in the town’s heritage.  Budleigh-born, he feels a strong link with the local fishing industry through his mother, a member of the Rogers family. 

Heritage in the drinks business is a fascinating subject, says James. With the popularity of real ales and the rapid upsurge in the number of micro-breweries all over Britain in recent years there’s been a keen interest in traditional brewing recipes. 

The Chester-based brewery Spitting Feathers has even gone as far as using a recipe created by analysing residues found in pots discovered at archaeological digs at Roman sites dating from around 100AD and other research.  Original ingredients including oats, rye and bog myrtle make this is a real taste of ale as the Romans brewed it in Britannia around the time of Christ’s birth.

Whatever next? A Bronze Age beer made from a recipe discovered at a dig on Woodbury Common?

Distilleries have seen the same kind of growth as breweries. I hadn’t realised how many gins there are on sale in shops like Budleigh Wines.  I wondered whether the Bombay Gins that James stocks would have been popular with some of the Anglo-Indian ex-army types who traditionally retired to Budleigh Salterton. 


But my eye was caught particularly by the bottles of Tanqueray gin because of its very local connection.  The original London Dry Gin was launched in Bloomsbury in 1830 by Charles Tanqueray. When he died in 1868 his son Charles Waugh Tanqueray took over the business at the age of 20 and quickly built on his father’s success. 1898 saw a merger with another well known name in the gin business, forming Tanqueray Gordon & Company. Today, Tanqueray Gin’s largest market is North America, where it is the highest selling gin import.

Above: The Tanqueray family grave at All Saints’ Church, East Budleigh 

 Although based in London the family must have had a home in East Budleigh because it was here that Charles Henry Drought Tanqueray (1875-1928), the newly formed company’s Secretary was born. In 1906 he married Stella Mary Green, daughter of East Budleigh’s vicar, the Rev William Frederick Green. Their daughter, Beryl Mary Tanqueray, married Brigadier Robert Allen Elliott, whose widowed mother lived for a time in our house after losing her husband Reginald, killed in action during World War One. 

On the strength of those local links I think I’d better try out a bottle of Tanqueray gin. It’s a bit more expensive than my usual brand, but James tells me that Tanqueray No.TEN is recognised for making the most refreshing tasting martini cocktails. It won 'Best White Spirit' three times in a row at the San Francisco World Spirits competition. 


I might even branch out into an exploration of the Tanqueray-inspired cocktails that you can find at

To see what else Budleigh Wines has to offer click on

Photo credits: Ben Efros, WestportWiki, Craig Hatfield 

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