What did you do before creating your distillery and Gower Gin?
Building the Gower Gin Company has been a passion for both myself and my wife Siân for the last three years. We both still work and so juggle careers, family and gin making. I work as a Management Consultant and Sian works as a senior PGCE lecturer in Modern Foreign Languages.
What made you decide to create your distillery and Gower Gin?
We have always had a passion for food and wine but I think our gin obsession began at university where we met. We started drinking gin and began to recognise the revolution going on before our very eyes. We went on a gin blending course in London and that made us think we could create something special based on the flavours of the Gower Peninsula where we live.
What is the inspiration behind Gower Gin?
Once we started, we experimented with a number of local botanicals that would complement the classic London Dry Style we wanted to make. I have always been interested in botany and had a ready knowledge of local flora, including what is edible.
Initially we had Alexanders in our botanical mix, a celery herb introduced by the Romans, but the maceration process extracted some bitterness which we didn’t want so it went on the back burner. However, the fennel found locally in the sand dunes around Port Eynon worked beautifully with classic London Dry botanicals and the fresh citrus zest we wanted to include, and so GŴYR Gin was born. Our vision was to make classic craft, small batch gins which are rooted in the place where we live and where the product is made.
The brand was inspired by the Breton stripes that are synonymous with the sea, coupled with embossed copper to represent the Historic Swansea Copper industry. We sold our first gin in September 2017 and it has been a whirlwind ride ever since.
What is your distillery like and can you tell us about the distillation process and botanicals?
Our distillery is a real micro-distillery at the bottom of the garden at our house in Port Eynon, so we distil all our gins within sight of the sea. Our still is called Arianwen which means ‘Silver Spirit’. We have quite a long macerating process for our botanicals to ensure we get maximum flavour extraction. We now produce three gins of our own. All are juniper forward with a classic base of angelica and coriander.
What can people expect and experience if they visit your distillery for a tour and tasting?
We are not open all the time but do run open days throughout the year. People can expect a very relaxed atmosphere, lots of free tasting (with some experiments that are not available to buy), and a look around the distillery which is likely to be in production mode so our guests see live distilling most of the time. We have a small range of products that are exclusive to us and people can stay as long as they like.
What have been the biggest challenges so far?
The biggest challenge has been finding our way through the plethora of planning and licensing agreements necessary to create the distillery and the bonded warehouse.
What have been your biggest achievements so far?
Seeing the first drops of gin come out of the still for the first batch made on Gower was a fantastic moment. Going through the learning curve from complete novice to a competent distiller has been a sense of real pride. On top of this, mastering the creative process to design, test and move new gin products into production has been wonderful. We have a baby 20L copper still which allows us to make as little as 4 or 5 bottles of a new recipe. So we now make gin for three special clients and are in discussions with some more great brands.
We won three awards for GŴYR in 2018 at the London Spirits Competition, San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Guild of Fine Food – Great Taste; we are very proud of this recognition.
How would you describe your gins in 3 words?
All our gins are ‘flavourful, foraged and classic’.
What's your favourite way to drink your gins?
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
Siân wrote a gin blog in 2017 called ‘52 weeks of gin’ and so we sampled a lot. We really enjoyed Junipero Gin (from San Francisco), Sacred Gin, 58 Gin and Bluebottle Gin from Guernsey.
What's next for Gower Gin - any exciting plans?
Almost too many to mention. Having just launched our GŴYR Rhosili; Dylan Thomas Edition (recognising one of Swansea’s most famous sons who used to spend a lot of time on Gower) we are already looking towards the end of the year. We have some fabulous local sloe gin macerating for limited edition release at the end of the year with one of our bespoke partners and we are experimenting with another fruit-based gin which will be a real surprise. We will be working with new distribution partners for new markets and look forward to seeing the Gower Gin brand develop beyond the Welsh Borders.