A pub landlord who took on a boozer and expected a huge bill to sort out its water supply found instead that he had tapped into a pure spring that is now making him a fortune.
Doran Binder, 49, bought the bought the Crag Inn in Wildboarclough, Cheshire in 2016, while recovering from a divorce that he says left him at “rock bottom”.
He was required to test the water for safety shortly after he took over the country pub.
Despite fearing he was going to end up having to stump up to get it up to standards,
Doran soon learned that there was an aquifer running 27 metres below the pub — and it flowed with what has been called some of the purest water in the world.
What’s more, there’s 700,000 litres of it, which is enough to fill in excess of a million bottles a day.
A boutique US drinks manufacturer contacted him after word of his discovery spread online. They sell high-end mineral water to elite customers for as low as $150 per bottle.
Doran said: “They got in touch with me on Instagram and asked me for samples. I thought, ‘Okay, this where I get rumbled.’ These people are global experts, they sell the finest waters in the world. I reluctantly sent it to them, put it on a credit card because I had no money and it was about eighty-five quid, and then a week later they asked for a Skype meeting.
“The first thing they said was, ‘This is one of the finest waters we’ve ever tasted’. They didn’t think I was doing it justice by putting it in reusable glass bottles, they thought the water was better than that and they thought it was a bit of a marketing gimmick. I explained that it wasn’t a marketing gimmick, it’s about environmental awareness and that’s the direction I want it to go in, so I held off supplying them.
“They said, ‘If we were to sell your water in our boutique today, the 750ml bottle we’d be selling for between $35 and $50 a bottle’. They have bottles there that they sell for $150 a bottle, and that’s when I realised it wasn’t too good to be true.”
But the 49-year-old Cheshire man sensationally turned them down, opting instead to run his own glass bottling operation straight from the pub. His water is imported from many countries, including China, India, and further afield. He receives regular calls from these companies.
He said that he worked for Bumble and Bumble in New York and was living in the UK at the time when his family forced him to purchase the pub.
“We were living 900 metres away on a farm, and we got divorced. I thought if I bought the pub I could be close to the kids. I knew the pub was failing, but I thought I’d just buy it and see what happened.”
A concrete block around two feet high lies between the pub’s beer garden and a small barbecue, covering a borehole that descends 27 metres down to the aquifer.
Doran began to transform the pub into an industrial bottle processing facility after the discovery. Doran only uses glass bottles. Once they have been returned, they are washed and refilled.
Crag spring water, his company now employs 12 people. It operates out of the pub’s old dining area. Bottles are delivered in a crate to customers’ doors by the company van or through milk floats. The still waters sell at £12 for 12 750ml bottles, the sparkling at £15 for the same amount.
Doran is proud of the company’s environmental credentials, and is passionate about using glass and not plastic:
“It’s re-using. Don’t say recycling. People say, ‘Oh, you recycle bottles …’ No, we don’t. We re-use them. We think about recycling as a green thing, but we take a bottle, put it in a recycling bin, it gets transported somewhere, it gets crushed, and then gets turned back into what it was.”
To stay up to date with all the latest news, make sure you sign up to one of our newsletters here.