From ‘Rock Bottom’ to Crag Top – The Story of Crag Water

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Introducing Crag Water and its passionate owner, Doran Binder… the man behind the new, bottled at source, eco-friendly brand of spring water with an extraordinary story… 

Crag Spring Water is not just an ‘exceptionally high-quality water’ being bottled at source in the Cheshire countryside. Nor is it just an environmentally conscious, socially responsible company that reuses all of its bottles and employs people with learning disabilities via a local charity in order to give something back.  

Doran Binder’s journey to becoming the owner of the Crag Water brand and also Cheshire’s leading water sommelier is a remarkable story – an inspiration to anyone who wants to overcome hard times to find their true calling in life.  

Discovering Crag Water – A ‘Liquid Goldmine’ in the Hills of Cheshire  

Running 27 meters below ground at the foot of Shutlinsloe Hill near the town of Wildboarclough in Macclesfield is a natural spring that produces some of the best water in the world.    

The aquifer, which produces enough water to fill more than a million bottles a day, came to light when Doran Binder, the current owner of the Crag Inn pub and the surrounding land, had the water tested as part of an annual water safety inspection.  

Richard Taylor, owner of testing company Blair Water, advised Doran that not only was it safe to drink, but it was a source of exceptionally high-quality spring water, which having filtered through layers of sand and rock for centuries, is rich in trace minerals resulting in some of the silkiest, creamiest water ever to be tasted. Mr Taylor’s advice to Doran? Quit his job and begin to bottle it and sell it.  

So good is the water, in fact, that the Mr Binder, has since been offered $50 a bottle from one American drinks manufacturer to export his water to connoisseurs across the pond. Although he turned down the deal because of differences in their approach to sustainability.  

A Clear Vision: The Crag Environmental Promise 

From the moment that he decided to start the business, Doran was clear that his overriding company ethos was to be as kind to the environment as possible.  

He outlined a business model where every bottle is reused rather than being recycled, choosing glass bottles over plastic which could potentially be thrown away by the customer. The water is delivered to doorsteps nationwide via a monthly subscription service through a partnership with the Modern Milkman. Empties are returned, washed and sterilised ready to be used again. Doran believes that already the brand has reused over one hundred thousand bottles in this way. 

Social responsibility is also a high priority for the company, which employs two staff via the Rossendale Trust, which gives people with learning difficulties a chance to earn money and ‘prove how valuable they can be’. 

Until production grows to a point where it is no longer viable, each bottle is currently filled and carbonated manually. It is made with love, and Doran believes this is reflected in the quality of the product and in turn, the loyalty of his growing customer base.  

Diving In at The Deep End 

In 2016, after the breakdown of his marriage, Doran Binder needed somewhere to live so that he could separate from his then wife and still be near to his children.  

After struggling to find something suitable, he put in an offer on The Crag Inn, a small country pub in Wildboarclough near Macclesfield, at a fraction of the asking price. It was miraculously accepted. Doran, who admits that he was at ‘rock bottom’ during this difficult time, says he fully intended to run the failing pub for a few years while he got back on his feet, before selling it on.  

That was before he met Richard Taylor of Blair Water, who advised him of the potential of the spring water source running deep underneath the pub. The rest as they say is history.  

Doran dove straight in at the deep end. He quit his well-paid job, sold everything he had and plunged all his money into setting up the business. He has moved permanently to the Crag Inn where he now bottles and sells his water. A business that is starting to become extremely lucrative. 

Becoming the Bearded Water Sommelier 

On this journey, Doran has also uncovered a passion for water admitting that he now drinks at least 4-6 litres a day which has uncovered a string of health benefits.  

He has also become a fully qualified water sommelier, talking guests through the properties, mineral content and taste differences in waters from across the globe with his popular water tasting sessions.  

He supplies Crag Water to local restaurants and advises on water pairings for dishes.  

Talking of his journey Doran said: 

“I hope people will be interested in my story. Up until six years ago I was working in New York and travelling back and forth to see my family. I had a great job and I was earning good money, but I wouldn’t say that it fulfilled me. When my marriage broke down, I won’t hide that there were some very dark days and when I stumbled upon the Crag Inn it was more that I needed a place to live and a project/business to throw myself into. I thought I was becoming a landlord, now I’m a water sommelier. 

“My life has been transformed. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. If you said to me just a few years ago, I would be bottling and selling mineral water in one of the most breath-taking settings in the UK I would never have believed you, but I honestly feel that I have found my home and my calling. Water is my passion. My life has changed for the better in so many ways and I hope that by sharing my story I can show people that you can make it through the tough times to a better place.” 

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