Force of nature: Snow Leopard's Stephen Sparrow

The personal touch – delivering in person on his bike, handwritten letters – got him noticed and bags of goodwill. While other brands did magnums, Sparrow claims he was the first to do jeroboams. He launched the brand at London Fashion Week. Indian fashion designer Manish Arora wanted it, so jeroboams of Snow Leopard were delivered to adorn his party.

Then Edrington, which is owned by the charitable Robertson Trust, came in and bought a majority share in the brand.

“Robertson has philanthropy flowing through its veins. It’s a premium brand business with the likes of Highland Park and The Macallan, and it didn’t have a vodka. It takes a long-term view and approach,” says Sparrow.

Snow Leopard, the vodka, is now in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam and America, with Sparrow and Edrington concentrating on the West Coast. It’s all about small launches in targeted places.

“It has gone from 1,000 cases to a 600% increase. We have a sustainable, growing, profitable brand so we need to be seen in the right places. We target bartenders with a bit of fun but we’re also serious. We want them to believe in the product, subscribe to Snow Leopard and believe it will be living in 100 years’ time.” 

Part of saving the snow leopard is improving the livelihood of people on the edge of the world (where the animal lives) – helping women and insuring against losing livestock. “It is going to be tight but we are going to do it. The drinks industry has been gifted an opportunity to do something special. So, let’s bloody do it!”