A common thread that runs through many of our custom branded spirits is that they are there to tell a story. It’s what inspired us to found the distillery in the first place – the desire to use flavours and botanicals to tell stories through gin. As a brand, Welsh Sisters, founded by sisters Becky Jones and Tania Kenny, is passionate about telling the often-overlooked stories of the women of Wales. And what amazing stories they are.
Becky and Tania are based locally to us at In the Welsh Wind. They popped in to the distillery to reflect on how they came to develop the Welsh Sisters brand, and their award winning gins Morwyn and The Captain’s Wife, and the unexpected avenues launching their own gin brand has taken them down.
What’s your story?
We grew up near the Welsh coast, and settled in New Quay, a small harbour town on the West Wales coast. The sea is definitely in our blood, although our careers have sometimes taken us away from the coast. While we’ve both done different things in our lives up till now, we have always been fascinated by stories of the sea, and stories of Welsh women which often remain untold. At the time we made our first bottles of gin, the #MeToo movement was gathering momentum, and we were very aware that we weren’t hearing Welsh voices in that debate. We felt that there was an opportunity to blow the dust off some of the stories of Welsh women that we were aware of and bring them to a new generation. Gin seemed like a great vehicle to do this.
How did you discover In The Welsh Wind?
In the Welsh Wind is our local distillery. We visited in August 2018 for a gin making experience (it was a birthday present!). We loved the gin that we made so much that we were back in the October to make 40 bottles as Christmas presents. The next thing we knew, we had a gin company.
Which of In the Welsh Wind’s services have you used?
The development of our gin has been a very organic process, starting with the gin making experience that we did back in 2018. We worked with the distillery team to tweak the recipe we’d selected in the gin making experience, to create our first commercial gin, Morwyn. When we were looking to develop a second gin, again, the distillery team helped us to identify the botanicals that would help us tell the story of ‘The Captain’s Wife’ – a Welsh woman who travelled the trade wind routes from Wales to South America.
We’ve had huge support from the distillery with the licensing processes that are required to own a gin brand, and Morwyn and The Captain’s Wife continue to be distilled by In the Welsh Wind.
Any key/stand out moments/funny stories from the development phase?
Throughout our journey, we’ve really appreciated the open and supportive attitude of the distillery – we really feel like we’re part of an In the Welsh Wind ‘family’. We’re free to think through an idea and bring it to life – the attitude is very much “Yes, and…”.
Alongside that support and creativity, what’s been really significant for us are the opportunities that have opened up to us since launching Welsh Sisters. We’ve realised the importance gin has to start conversations in situations where people might not otherwise feel confident or comfortable to do so. We ran an event early on, ‘Into the Tide’ which was an exhibition of the work of 2 local artists focussed on cold water swimming, and what the sea means to people. The combination of their work plus our gin bringing together the local community was very powerful. Our gin has also been included in gift bags for staff at one of the hospitals in Swansea who have really given their all during the Covid outbreak. We were invited to an event around mental health where they were invited to share their experiences and talk freely about PTSD and the strain of working during the pandemic. When we talked about the gin, there was a huge cheer and it really introduced a warmth into the room.
What 1 piece of advice would you give others who are considering setting up a spirits brand?
There are 3 pieces of advice we’d like to pass on –
Count everything and always keep records;
It’s a really complicated sector to jump into, so having a good mentor is invaluable to help you cut through the red tape; and finally
Finally – you have to love it – your brand, your gin – you have to know what it stands for and be true to it.
Welsh Sisters – The Lowdown
Brand Name: Welsh Sisters
Gins: Morwyn; The Captain’s Wife
Brand Owners: Becky Jones and Tania Kenny
Distilled Since: 2019
In the Welsh Wind Services: Consultancy and licensing support, Recipe Development; Ongoing production (distillation and bottling)
Buy Welsh Sisters Gin: online and from Wallys Deli, Cardiff, Cherry Picked, Sarnau, Naturally Scrumptious, Aberaeron, and Taylors of Carmarthen. Found behind the bar in The Sea Horse , New Quay and The Duke of Richmond, Hackney