Everyone loves a bit of suspense when they’re at the cinema right?! The thrill of the fight. The pure adrenaline rush. The fuel tanker hanging precariously from the suspension bridge, whilst our intrepid hero is winched down in to the heart of danger to once again save the day. Because ‘whenever there’s a problem, round Adventure Bay. Ryder and his team of pups, will come and save the day’…
Ok, ok. Since I had kids, my days of white knuckle cinema escapism are temporarily behind me. It took me two and a half long years to make it back to the cinema. And when I did finally make it back to the land of extortionately priced popcorn and flat soda, it was only to be confronted with ‘Paw Patrol’ (the movie).
But then again, I have to admit to taking a bit of pleasure in the animated adventure movies. They tend to be eminently watchable, heartwarmingly entertaining, and there’s usually a bit of cleverly disguised ‘blue’ for the parents.
That said, when we finally exited lockdown and entered the offer of a child free excursion to the cinema, we had left the house before there had even been time for the ink to dry of the metaphorical contract of childcare!
The film in question; James Bond, No Time To Die.
Arguably, the most hotly anticipated movies in years. Not least because it would be Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007. We got dressed up to the 9’s, and enjoyed our first child free meal in what felt a lifetime. As we headed in to the darkness (with drinks no less!) it felt like we’d finally reached the promised land; Parents, who are able to have a social life!
The result? The best 2 hours 43 minutes of sleep that I’ve had in years!!! Now don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not saying this was a bad film (I presume – I was asleep after all). But after 3 years of long nights, broken sleep and (very) early starts, a night of solitude in a darkened room with a ‘larger than life’ TV blaring was all I needed to reach rigor mortis. Whilst holding a bag of Pic n’ Mix…obviously.
Naturally I awoke 5 minutes from the finale, just in time to ruin the ending and render any prospect of revisiting the film at a later date a pointless endeavour (for those in the know).
Do I have any regrets? Double oh never!
Fast forward to 2022, and I’m sat drinking a Martini (stirred, not shaken James you animal!) contemplating a date inspired by the aforementioned quick witted / sharp tongued spy, that was at no risk of inviting slumber! On 18th June 2022, we’ll be hitting the second birthday of World Martini Day. And this time they’re coming armed with a secret agent… The Gower Gin Company!
But what’s it all about I hear you ask? When I reached out to Siân and Andrew from Gower Gin and asked to do an interview they asked “do you expect us to talk?…”. To which I responded “No Ms. Siândrew. I expect you to Dry (Martini)”.
Then I realised that if Siân & Andrew (Siândrew) didn’t talk then the Q&A really wouldn’t work. So we agreed that they would talk…and so here it is.
#WorldMartiniDay Q&A; The Gower Gin Company
The Gin Shelf (TGS): Hi Siân / Andrew (‘Siândrew’)! The Gower Gin Company have helped to create only the second ever collaboration product for World Martini Day 2022; exciting news! How did it all come about?
The Gower Gin Company (TGGC) Siân: We knew Julian and Sandra first through Instagram and Twitter – Julian made an amazing Martinez which featured our Bara Brith gin – and we were then invited onto the Martini Club UK online session which was exciting, and were then delighted to meet in person at Junipalooza.
Andrew and I were really excited at the project, but we had tasted Locksley’s World Martini gin, which was absolutely delicious, and so we felt the pressure!
TGS: So tell us all about this exciting, very new & very limited, gin launch in celebration of the second World Martini Day?!
TGGC Andrew: In the Daniel Craig film version of Casino Royale, James Bond is asked by Vesper Lynd why he has named his Martini a ‘Vesper’ and he replies: ‘once you’ve tasted it, that’s all you want to drink’ – I think I agree! Siân always teases me that I love my own gin, but I am really proud of this one.
The links to Bond are great too. The book was published on the 13th of April 1953 and so we distilled it on the 13th of April and cut the gin at 53%; not only this but James Bond was supposed to have been based on a Serbian Spy and so we used Serbian juniper to make the gin. Julian designed the label, and we loved his attention to detail, which you can see in the small star between the English and Welsh names. The label really does sum up the teamwork of this project – The World Martini Day logo works perfectly with our Gower stripes.
TGS: Why was this project important to you to be involved in?
TGGC Andrew: It was a huge honour to be asked and we are so grateful for the trust Julian, Sandra and Anthony placed in us. I feel I have learnt a lot in the process too – especially around techniques for crushing and cutting juniper, which we experimented with. Normally my focus is on what would make a great G&T but, of course, there were different considerations for a versatile gin that would work in a Martini.
TGS: Tell us a little more about the name; ‘Night Star’ / ‘Seren y Nos’. Sounds like there is a story behind it?
TGGC Siân: With the Vesper idea playing in my mind, I knew ‘Vespers’ were evening prayers but hadn’t realised that ‘Vesper’ meant ‘Evening Star.’ I then had to consider it from a Welsh perspective as this is always important to us as a brand. ‘Night Star’ worked better in Welsh – ‘Seren y Nos’ (Star of the Night) and I felt it made it feel a bit more glamorous and dramatic. As a Vesper Martini is the iconic drink in Casino Royale, I could feel a story forming!
We had a funny incident before the big reveal. We had put a chalk sign on one of our holding tanks with the name and date of distillation so that that we could send a photo to the Night Star team. I had forgotten to remove it before a family visited us with a daughter called ‘Seren’. She was so excited to see her name and because she was disappointed that she couldn’t take a photo, I had to chalk ‘Seren’ on one of our other holding tanks!
TGS: How did you guys come up with the recipe? And how was the creative process split between yourselves and Julian?
TGGC Siân: Usually, Andrew and I talk through the recipe from the start but for this project, I squirrelled myself away and did some research. I found that Ian Fleming had been stationed in Serbia and it was thought that the original casino for Casino Royale was Serbian, and that James Bond was based on a charismatic Serbian triple agent; so Serbian juniper was an obvious consideration. I then thought about the ingredients of the original Vesper – e.g. cinchona bark and bitter orange (Kina Lillet) and presented Andrew with a list of possible botanicals.
Then it was over to Andrew – I’m always amazed about how he knows how much of each botanical to use. I had considered mint as one of the botanicals but Andrew was not convinced and so it didn’t make it to the final line up! Andrew usually works on a spreadsheet preparing the botanicals in grams per litre so that he can scale up easily. It was quite a tricky process owing to the citrus line up and cut juniper but cutting the gin at 53% (1953 was the publication date of Casino Royale) was absolutely ideal.
Our first attempt (where we distilled wine to make a grape spirit) had the ‘grains’ of the idea behind Night Star, but it was through regular discussions with Julian, Sandra, and Anthony that we were able to refine the recipe. It was an exciting process working with their discerning palates and seeing things from different perspectives.
Sourcing the base spirit was a challenge. We eventually sourced some grape spirit (our own distilled version had too low ABV to be used) which we combined with our organic grain spirit. We really wanted to get hold of rye spirit, to replicate the vodka in the Vesper, but it was impossible in the timescale and so we decided to bring rye into the botanical mix. Julian had described the white pepper finish of a good vodka and so we added white pepper too. Julian suggested oats to round the finish and it was the first time we had used these as a botanical, and I think they work well in Night Star.
TGS: Ok, so there’s clearly a big James Bond influence at play here…but still I need to ask. How are you serving yours?!
TGGC Andrew: We love how Julian and Anthony are serving theirs! When Anthony visited us recently, he made me some delicious Martinis and we know that Julian will be making up some delicious serves in pouches. We will definitely be using our very own vermouth, which has just been voted the World’s Best Semi-Dry vermouth at the World Vermouth Awards.
TGS: Any other serves of note that you’d call out?
TGGC Andrew: I think it makes a great sipping gin, simply served in a chilled Nick and Nora glass and some pared lemon.
I am thinking of taking some to the beach in a Thermos on my next fishing trip and I will raise a glass to the Night Star creative team!
TGS: How will you be celebrating World Martini Day 2022?
TGGC Sian: Last year we did Breakfast Martinis on the beach, and it was a good laugh, if not very chaotic! All of our focus at the moment is on the launch and then the Martini hour we will be running at each Junipalooza session, but we definitely need a plan…we will keep you posted!
TGS: What’s next for The Gower Gin Company? Any sneak previews of upcoming plans that you’re willing to share?
TGGC Andrew: We do have some very exciting gin projects coming up, but they can’t be revealed yet, sorry. My mind is on Vermouth at the moment – I really enjoyed creating our first Vermouth and it felt liberating to work on a different category of drink.
It’s reflected too my growing interest (I wonder why?) in Martinis and Negronis. I made a ‘Rosso’ vermouth for Negronivent and so we are going to be experimenting again on that soon. Are there any willing volunteers out there to help taste?…
With huge thanks to my good friends Siân & Andrew (AKA Siândrew) and The Gower Gin Company for their time and enthusiasm! Be sure to follow them across social media, and head to their website to grab your limited edition bottle of Night Star now!
Facebook: @GŴYR – Gower Gin – TM
For all of the lowdown on World Martini Day, make sure you’re following Julian Villas & the team for the latest:
Facebook: World Martini Day
You will also want to check out Martini Club UK (@MartiniClubUK) – with a range of events throughout the year to celebrate the classic short serve cocktail, it’s a club that you’re going to want to be a part of…
And don’t forget to stop by @theginshelf across all social media platforms for more blogs & event updates. Stop by, say ‘Hi’ & chat gin!