A landlord who took on a pub and expected a huge bill to sort out itswater supply found he was sitting on a ‘liquid goldmine’.
Doran Binder, 49, bought The Crag Inn in Wildboarclough, Cheshire, in 2016 when he was at ‘rock bottom’ because of his divorce.
Not long after taking on the small country pub near Macclesfield he had to get the water tested as part of an annual inspection to make sure it was safe for the public to drink.
But despite fearing he was going to end up having to dig deep, the outcome couldn’t have been more different.
Doran soon learned that the aquifer which runs 27 metres below the pub flowed with some of the purest water in the world.
And with 700,000 litres of it – enough to fill more than a million bottles a day – he found himself sitting on ‘liquid gold’.
Doran has now been approached by a boutique US drinks manufacturer that sells high-end mineral water to rich clients for up to $150 (£109) a bottle.
But the environmentalist turned them down, instead opting to run his own eco-friendly and small scale operation from his old pub facilities.
He is now regularly receiving calls from India, China, the US and further afield from companies looking to import his water.
Doran Binder, 49, (above) bought a failing pub, The Crag Inn, Cheshire, in 2016 when he was at ‘rock bottom’ because of his divorce and soon discovered he was sat atop a ‘liquid goldmine’
Sitting at the crest of Shutlingsloe Hill in Wildboarclough, Cheshire, there are more than 700,000 litres of available water which could sell for upwards of £109 a bottle
The father-of-five was working for Bumble and bumble, a hair care products brand in New York, and living between the US and the UK when family circumstances prompted him to buy the pub.
Doran said: ‘I knew the pub was failing, but I thought I’d just buy it and see what happened.
‘At the time I was working in New York and quite happy. I bought this, I’m commuting two weeks here, two weeks there, I’ve got a great little life.
‘I thought: “I’ll run it for a year, see how it goes and then make a decision about what we do with the pub.”
‘Because it’s a pub we have to undergo annual testing to make sure the water is safe for public consumption. I invited Blair Water round because they’re the company that has historically tested the water every year.
‘I approached the meeting thinking’ “I’m going to have to spend ten grand on this water, I know it”.
But Richard Taylor, owner of Blair Water, was so impressed with the water readings he came to meet Doran in person.
Mr Taylor told him that he’s previously petitioned the former owner of the property to let him bottle and sell his product, a ‘vein of gold coming off Shutlingsloe Hill’, but to no avail.
Doran explained: ‘He [Taylor] said: “I’ve been drilling water for forty years, all over the world, and this is the best water I’ve drilled by a mile, anywhere.’
He sent a sample of the water to be tested and accredited, and was intrigued as to what the result would be.
His company, Crag Spring Water Ltd, now employs 12 people who operate out of the pub’s old dining room
Doran said: ‘I was at New York Fashion Week on a runway when my phone rang and it’s Richard Taylor, and he goes: “I’ve got the results, sell everything you’ve got, hand in your notice, come back here and start bottling it”.
So he did, selling everything and turning his pub into a bottle processing plant three years ago.
After the first penniless year-and-a-half of toiling by himself, including washing his reusable bottles by hand, he was contacted by an American firm who requested water samples.
Doran reluctantly sent them off, expecting to be ‘rumbled’ by a bigger company, and having to put the £85 postage and tracking fee on his credit card.
But to his delight, they got back to him to tell him they enjoyed some of the finest water they had ever tasted.
Doran explained: ‘They said: “If we were to sell your water on 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.’
After the first penniless year-and-a-half of toiling by himself, including washing his reusable bottles by hand, Doran was contacted by an American firm who requested water samples
His company, Crag Spring Water Ltd, now employs 12 people who operate out of the pub’s old dining room. The pub is now closed and the water business is Doran’s main focus.
Doran intends to keep growing the business, and receives calls from India, China, the US and South Korea.
Doran said: ‘We want to grow it as big as we can but I don’t mean big in a financial sense, I mean big in terms of making a difference.
‘We’ll be building a 10m by 25m unit on the land, then it’ll be automated, and when it’s automated we’ll produce in an hour what we’re currently doing in a day.’