Good things happen in West Wales. Good things, special things. Big Retreat Wales is small, but growing, a perfectly formed festival weekend designed to relax and recharge, to challenge and energise – and of course, we couldn’t resist the invitation to work with Diana and Amber to create a gin worthy of the occasion for the 2019 Big Retreat: welcome The Cleddau Gin to the In the Welsh Wind collection!
Finding balance at Big Retreat Wales
“…For us, ‘feel good’ is just as much about an icy gin and tonic as it is a yoga class, because The Big Retreat is all about balance…”
Browse through Big Retreat Wales’s website and it’s pretty clear what the weekend in beautiful Lawrenny, Pembrokeshire, offers. Food for mind, body and soul, with challenging speakers- a place to find your ‘feelgood’. Exercise, yoga classes to stretch and relax, the opportunity to try your hand at new skills, and of course, as any good festival should have, excellent food and drink. Which, of course, is where we come in, along with that icy gin and tonic.
One of Big Retreat Wales’ founders, Diana Dredge knows her gin. Inspired by an ‘Around the World in 80 gins’ tasting session she ran at a previous Big Retreat Wales, she realised that the festival she and Amber Lort-Phillips had created had its own story to tell: historic location, stunning geography, all interwoven with the magic of West Wales.
“Whilst we had a great ideas, we didn’t have time or technique to distill our own gin” says Diana. “We were actually looking for a mobile gin bar to distill for us – and happened across In The Welsh Wind instead. We had a conversation with Alex, swiftly followed by a trip to the distillery – and we loved what we found! We developed our own brief on what the Gin should and should not be, with ideas on how to capture our festival essence. We developed a style and a character for our end product and In the Welsh Wind then added to our vision and interpreted our brief as closely as possible in the form of a beautifully balanced gin.”
In The Welsh Wind was only too happy to talk, distil and taste, creating a gin to capture in a bottle the vibe of Big Retreat Wales in a G&T – and The Cleddau Gin was born.
Creating a gin for a place, a gin for a vibe
Creating a gin to reflect something as vibrant as Big Retreat Wales is about pinning down some key elements, then pulling them in to the botanical profile of the gin. With botanicals selected, distillation has a part to play as different flavours sing at different stages of the process. Whenever we create any gin, we start off talking – keen to understand what’s to be brought into the mix. Unlike wine, which takes its flavour, its sense of place, from the terroir, the very ground where the grapes are nurtured, a similar sense of place can be achieved in gin through botanicals.
As Diana comments:
“We worked with Alex & Will – considering, selecting, tasting, sipping and savouring our way to our favourite rendition of our recipe brief. We wanted a well-balanced, juniper forward gin that was as at home in a G&T as it was in a martini. This meant balancing botanicals and process to come up with a simply sublime recipe”.
For Big Retreat Wales, there’s the vibe of the festival itself, but much of that comes from the beautiful setting in Lawrenny Old Castle grounds where it all takes place, on the banks of the River Cleddau. As with many stately homes, Lawrenny had its own pineapple house – designed with its own eccentric heating system, a wonder of the 18th Century which would enable cultivation of that rare and marvelous fruit. Serving a pineapple to your guests was a symbol of hospitality and welcome. What could be more fitting for The Cleddau Gin? Not only does pineapple pay homage to the festival site, it is reflective of the open house, welcoming ethos that’s at the heart of Big Retreat Wales.
The Cleddau Gin captures other aspects of Big Retreat Wales in surprising and delicious ways. Crisp sea buckthorn evokes the littoral setting, the stunning Pembrokeshire coastline, pink peppercorns bring warmth and depth. And of course, the ubiquitous juniper has been selected for its own unique qualities: a hand-picked berry from Macedonia bringing the depth of flavour Diana and Amber were looking for to offset the aromatic pineapple.
Alongside the gin itself, we worked with our suppliers to source a unique bottle, something never used before in the drinks industry. Reflecting the skin of the pineapple within the geometric pattern, The Cleddau Gin comes in a vessel that’s both tactile and eye-catching. It’s a multi-sensory approach that sits well within the vibe of Big Retreat Wales.
For In the Welsh Wind, The Cleddau Gin is a shining example of a craft gin born out of collaboration and understanding, a melding of experiences into a gin that truly represents a time and a place. It’s also a great ambassador for our maverick approach to gin making – to take the traditional and inspire it to be something different, something better, something that respectfully closes the rule book and forges its own path in the world.
If you’re interested in creating your own bespoke, small batch craft gin, get in touch . We offer a range of services to get you on your way from development through distillation, licensing, branding and marketing. Call us on 07814 354 786 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org