Ibiza wellness: No1 Rosemary Water – Fountain of youth

It was just another regular morning, as entrepreneur David Spencer-Percival was perusing the papers while eating breakfast with his wife. As couples are wont to do, he absentmindedly read aloud a tidbit of an article about a small fishing village in Italy that had one of the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world. Not only were people living a long time in Acciaroli, they were also living free of the common diseases that plague the elderly elsewhere in the world. Over the following weeks, David couldn’t shake the story from his head. Six months later, after an entrepreneurial and scientific rollercoaster ride, David and Bonita Spencer-Percival launched No1 Rosemary Water.

A quaint seaside village in the Italian province of Salerno, Acciaroli is around two hours south of Naples. When the mayor submitted his town’s census, the government thought he’d committed a drastic miscount of the number of people over 100 years of age. He assured them his calculations were correct and that there were also a large number of 80 and 90 year olds too. It was at that point the demographic of holidaymakers in Acciaroli shifted to include marauding gangs of scientists – not coming to enjoy the picturesque beach, but to find out what on earth was keeping residents healthy for so long.

“People were saying it was the Mediterranean diet, but there are thousands of people eating like that and no other village had the density of centenarians,” says David. “The only differentiate they could find was they were eating copious amount of rosemary. Unusually, they chew it raw – it’s cultural to the village. They also cook with it –it grows wild all around.” At first, David and Bonita simply wanted to get more rosemary into their own diets at similar concentrations to the people of Acciaroli. It was easier said then done, as they realised very quickly that chewing on rosemary sprigs was not quite desirable. David started to look around for a form of supplement. Other than rosemary oil, there was nothing available for internal consumption. That’s when the experiments started… to Bonita’s horror.

Lugging home an enormous rosemary bush from the local garden centre, David emptied the fridge and filled it with various containers of water stuffed with various amounts of fresh rosemary. “I concluded it was very refreshing,” he says. “Then it got serious. I thought if no one had produced a drink then I should probably try.” This kickstarted a scientific journey he never thought possible. Creating a rosemary extract that retains the health promoting nutrients of the plant would prove extremely difficult, which to David, just made it even more exciting. “I just become obsessed about things,” he says, grinning.

David first made his first fortune with the highly successful recruitment company Huntress and continued to flourish later on with his own recruitment business, Spencer Ogden. He relishes the challenge of taking an idea and making it work. This project took on particular significance; it was a way to do what he loved – building a business from the ground up – and potentially offering something very important to society: health. The elderly of Acciaroli suffer from dramatically few incidences of Alzheimer’s, cataracts, dementia and arthritis and have low cancer rates. “These are not LA fitness people running around in Lycra,” David explains. “They’re Italian, they eat, they drink and they smoke.”

No1 Rosemary Water comes in sparkling and still varieties in a distinctive white glass bottle and is curiously thirst quenching and refreshing. Each bottle sports the company’s semi tongue-in-cheek motto: A drink to remember. Not only is No1 Rosemary Water tasty and revitalising, the high concentration of rosemarinic acid found in the extract is an incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory. This may be a major influence in protecting the brain from Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as promoting memory.

David Spencer-Percival began with a mission to include more rosemary in his diet and ended up with a delicious and highly marketable drink. Harvey Nichols in London sold out three times shortly after launching. However, since that initial idea and David’s tenacious desire to bring it to fruition, a new factor has evolved. Little clinical research has been conducted on rosemary as a potential therapeutic treatment and David wanted to know why. Enter Northumbria University’s Professor Mark Moss.

Professor Moss’ research on memory had been somewhat stymied by the fact it was very difficult to find people to munch down on enough rosemary to effect a decent study. When David arrived with No1 Rosemary Water, the two quickly formed a bond. No1 Rosemary Water clinical trials start this year. The implications are huge for the future health and wellbeing of humankind and the excitement is contagious.

Here in Ibiza, No1 Rosemary Water is available at a few select venues and can be ordered from the website in various quantities. It can also be delivered anywhere on the island through Ibiza Delivers. Ibiza and the drink are a perfect match and it won’t be long before islanders quench a day on the beach with a long, cool sip of Rosemary Water. And as a bonus, it will definitely be a drink to remember.

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