If you were trying to capture the feel of the quintessential British countryside, you might well think of roses, apples and blackberry picking.

This is exactly what the Duchess of Rutland, Emma Rutland, has sought to do in developing upmarket soft drinks brand Duchess of Rutland Botanicals.

The drinks combine Radnor Hills sparkling mineral water with fruit juice and added botanicals. They are manufactured by Radnor Hills, where Rutland's brother, William Watkins, is director. The range was unveiled at the Birmingham Food & Drink Expo in March, and comes in three flavours: elderflower & rose; raspberry & lavender; and apple, blackberry & cinnamon.

Rutland says she tries to use only the finest-quality ingredients, which are sourced from Britain wherever possible.

"They capture the active essence of the plants used and the fragrance of our seasons," she says. The drinks are packaged in 750ml glass wine-style bottles and are expected to retail at £2.20 each.

The branding was inspired by her home at Belvoir Castle, incorporating peacock feathers from the family's heraldic crest and the family colours used in the blue and yellow Regency-striped label.

The final touches to the bottle were influenced by a bottle of claret taken onboard Royal Navy sloop HMS Resolution by an ancestor of the Duke of Rutland in the 18th century.

"Culled from history and tradition but fully up to date for today's tastes and aspirations,"says Rutland, who has taken the unusual step of setting business students at the University of Kent the challenge of developing a marketing plan for the drinks.

The students are competing in small groups for the opportunity to live at Belvoir Castle during the summer and work first-hand on the marketing of the product. Rutland is currently in talks with major retailers regarding potential listings.

Focus On Soft Drinks