The friends who thought vodka in a gold bottle would be cool who ended up on The Sunday Times Rich List

Jackson Quinn, Charlie Sloth and Charlie Morgan pictured in the Au Vodka warehouse
Jackson Quinn, Charlie Sloth and Charlie Morgan pictured in the Au Vodka warehouse -Credit:Au Vodka

Swansea-based Au vodka and its founders were once again mentioned on the Sunday Times Rich List this week - with co-founder Charlie Morgan listed as one of the richest people aged under 40 in Wales, with a £56m fortune. You can see the list here. We caught up with the people behind Au Vodka in 2022. Here is what they had to say...

It all began when two friends from Swansea had a lightbulb moment and a grand vision, which is now taking the globe by storm. Charlie Morgan and Jackson Quinn, have been on an incredible journey since launching Au Vodka in 2016. They noticed a niche as they saw their friends unwrapping a bottle of their preferred vodka for birthdays, and fantasised about creating something a bit unique.

Back in 2015, they decided to see if they could turn their dream into reality, so they attempted to make their own vodka, naming it Au Vodka, initially producing 2,000 bottles and introducing it locally in a few pubs around their hometown of Swansea. Word of mouth across the city helped it gain a solid reputation, and it garnered plenty of attention on Instagram too, due to its signature striking gold bottle.

And then, one day, someone very influential to the brand's future was watching - DJ, producer and TV presenter Charlie Sloth. The duo offered him a free bottle to try for himself, and he was so taken with it that he invested in the company and became business partners with the pair. For the latest Swansea news, sign up to our newsletter here

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From its humble beginnings of a limited run of 2,000 bottles to now producing 35,000 bottles daily, the brand has seen exponential growth and has become a game changer in the alcohol industry.

The brand now boasts an expanded range of seven flavours including Au Original, Black Grape, Fruit Punch, Blue Raspberry, Green Watermelon, Red Cherry and Pineapple Crush. In addition, a limited edition Double Espresso Coffee Liqueur was released in December 2021.

Four of these flavours are stocked in hundreds of Tesco stores across the UK, with plans to expand into Sainsbury's and Asda this coming October. The brand is also available at Wetherspoons and Marstons pubs.

The brand has also seen international success, being sold in 40 countries worldwide from Dubai to Australia, Spain, the Netherlands and most recently, 32 states across America. It has also gained entry into major international venues, specifically launching within O Beach Ibiza, known globally for its incredible pool parties on the original party island.

The Spirits Business, a globally recognised digital magazine, has named it the most popular vodka brand on the internet. Au Vodka was also highlighted by The Times as the top company to watch in 2023. The brand's impressive growth on social media platforms has garnered it 630,000 followers, with TikTok alone accounting for 227,000.

Brightpearl named it the UK's fastest-growing online company from 2019-2020, with a net growth exceeding 10,000%.

In addition to its success, the brand has significantly contributed to the local economy. Starting with just a few employees, it now boasts over 50 dedicated full-time staff at its newly refurbished Swansea headquarters. This includes dedicated workspaces and a 100,000 square foot warehouse to accommodate the growing staff and product demand. Full-time staff are also based in the USA and across Europe.

In August, 2022, responding to overwhelming consumer demand, Au launched in the United States, selling 50,000 bottles in the first week. They said this immediate success led to the establishment of an office in Atlanta.

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Taking a moment to reflect on the whirlwind journey, Mr Morgan said: "It's almost hard to take a moment to reflect when we have the next big project coming up and there is always something new we're working on. But, looking back on how far we have come, it's been such an immense journey with plenty of milestones hit and definitely so much more to come.

"A big milestone for us was entering huge multinational grocers, Tesco. It was a big moment for us, seeing our flavours stocked on the shelves of stores nationwide. We now have four flavours available in Tesco including, Blue Raspberry, Red Cherry, Pineapple Crush and our Double Espresso Coffee Liqueur, with much more to come. We're also going into Sainsbury's and Asda in October which will also be a surreal moment for us, not to mention that we're also stocked in hundreds of Wetherspoons across the country.

"International expansion of the brand has proved to be another success for us, we're now sold in over 40 countries worldwide. Having E-commerce stores in Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, among many others, allows customers in these countries to order our vodka straight to their doors. This year we even launched in O Beach Ibiza, the venue famous for its iconic pool parties on the original party island so this was a big moment for us too. They even have a giant Au Vodka Gold Bottle which circles its way above the outdoor venue."

He added: "The vision is for Au Vodka to become a truly global brand, known in an instant for its unique gold branding and coloured liquids, we see the bottles being stocked on shelves internationally and becoming accessible for customers in every corner of the world. We also want to ensure we continue to dominate the UK Vodka market, keeping a tight grip on where we started to ensure the brand is true to its roots, there's always room for more growth everywhere."

Mr Quinn added: "'It is huge for us, personally, it's a remarkable achievement having grown this company into what it is today. It was always a dream to hit this kind of level of success and having got to this point, there is no slowing down for us now, there's a lot bigger moves in the pipeline to come for Au Vodka. We've got an incredibly talented team, all of whom have become vital in the mechanics of Au Vodka and are equally behind every new milestone we hit."

"Our aim inevitably is to become Wales's first Unicorn company, hitting this unbelievable milestone would prove to be such an enormous journey from the two mates who initially started a vodka brand in Swansea."

The 2024 Rich List that came out this week stated the company was now worth £56m and said: "Beginning with 2,000 bottles they started selling their products in a few bars around their home city. Since then they have enjoyed international expansion with Au Vodka now available to purchase in a number of high-end shops around the world including Selfridges and Harvey Nichols in the UK. British DJ, producer, and TV presenter Charlie Sloth is also a partial owner of the company."