A FAMILY has bottled the love of a North Wales landmark and mixed its inspiration into an exciting new venture ready to warm the hearts of spirit connoisseurs around the region.

Fiona Lewis, husband Simon and their three children have seen a dream inspired by the countryside overlooking their home in Lixwm, Flintshire, become a home grown North Wales reality in time for the Christmas season.

Last week saw the official launch of the family's very own first product of their business venture, Cariad Gin, at Archies Bar, Prestatyn where punters had the chance to sample the locally made Marmalade and Bayleaf Gin and Blackcurrant Gin.

According to Fiona, Cariad Gin was inspired by family walks around the Clwydian range and exploring the natural botanical produce the landscape has to offer.

"Our business is actually called Clwydian Range Distillery, in honour of the times as a family we have spent enjoying the hills surrounding the amazing area we live and work in," she said.

"I'm always amazed at the natural beauty surrounding us especially while out walking. It’s a real family affair running the business and producing our first product, Cariad Gin, myself, Simon and the three children have all been involved big or small in bringing the range to life."

The gin is distilled in small batches of 20 bottles at the micro distillery next to the family home with each batch of the artisan craft gin produced using a traditional 10L copper alembic still and a recipe based on six essential botanicals with each bottle containing these key ingredients which are blended to 40% ABV.

Fiona said: "Our mission at Clwydian Range Distillery is to produce the finest gin with locally sourced botanicals where possible, to promote our local area, local businesses and the Welsh Language and for our loyal customers to become ambassadors of our brand.

"We have already forged some key partnerships across North Wales with local businesses to showcase our gin and the support from them has been fantastic. It's been really heart warming as well to read all the initial support for our gins on our social media accounts Cariad Gin and we are so grateful for all the kind words.

"The launch event was absolutely lovely especially seeing all our friends and family there giving us great feedback and loving the gin. To see everyone who has been with us on this journey all there together was very special."

Gin production in the UK has become big business with the spirit's image now far removed from its reputation as 'mother's ruin' and the Victorian gin palaces of old.

Sales of gin have tripled since 2009 with Britons rediscovering their taste for the spirit to such a degree that drinkers spent £461m on gin last year, up by 32.5pc on the year, according to the Office for National Statistics. That compares with just £126m spent by gin-lovers back in 2009, with the renewed interest also helping to fuel a surge in new distilleries.

In 2017, 49 distilleries opened in the UK, according to HM Revenue and Customs and the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), while just seven closed their doors. The new sites are split between 22 in England, 20 in Scotland, four in Wales and three in Northern Ireland. As a result the UK now has 315 distilleries, more than double the 152 which were in operation five years ago.

HMRC figures released earlier this year showing UK gin exports for 2017 broke the £500 million barrier for the first time, reaching a record breaking £530 million.

Chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said: “British gin has grown into a global phenomenon and in 2018 we saw sales, both home and abroad, break the £2 billion mark – doubling in value in five years. More and more nations are clamouring for the sought-after spirit with more than 150 countries now importing British gin, making us the world’s leading gin exporter.

“The British public’s thirst for gin shows no sign of slowing down - we know that consumers are increasingly interested in the locality, provenance and authenticity of what they are drinking, and gin fits perfectly with this growing trend, with an increasing number of distilleries across the country and an emphasis on locally sourced botanicals.

“Gin, aside from the classic G&T serve, is also a really versatile spirit and works great in cocktails, so the growth of cocktail bars across the UK helps gin’s popularity, too.”

Fiona agrees that it's gin's versatility and the wide range of new flavours available that have helped it enjoy a renaissance.

"We're probably the smallest distillery in Wales but we seem to have got it right," she said. "There are so many interesting flavours about now that it's not just a drink you have with tonic water. Some of my friends now drink it with lemonade which was unheard of years ago and of course all the botanicals have really changed the whole nature of the drink."

Gin is a spirit defined by, and famous for, its botanicals and to actually be classified as gin, it must have some level of juniper, which is where the pine taste comes from, but other than that, gin distillers are free to choose their botanicals at will.

This freedom makes gin one of the most diverse liquors on the market with distillers distinguishing themselves by using varying levels of one botanical or another, as well as by adding plants and herbs taken from the local vegetation around the distillery.

"Our recipe is based on six essential botanicals: juniper, coriander, lemon peel, angelica root, cubeb berries and a subtle infusion of the finest locally hand-picked gorse flowers," added Fiona.

"On each of the bottles you'll see a tortoise and it was actually the seven tortoises I look after who inspired the flavour because we would go up into the mountains foraging for them and that's how we started to think about the gorse flavours.

"We try and do everything from home and make sure everything is locally sourced which we hope helps promote the region because it really is so beautiful around here."