THE STORY BEHIND BLUE SLATE GIN/JIN LLECHEN LAS
as told by Jess, founder of Dinorwig Distillery
photos by Natasha Lowe-Sellers
Jess - I wasn’t born here, but I have lived in Snowdonia for most of my life. I think that it is one of the most beautiful parts of the world. I love walking in the woods that surround my cottage; beneath the slate quarries of Dinorwig, above Llyn Padarn. I have always had a deep longing to create something inspired by my surroundings; however, I am no artist. I studied psychology at Bangor University and went on to train as a Clinical Psychologist and work in the NHS. Back in 2016 a friend introduced me to the idea of making gin.
We have always grown a good many herbs in our garden for cooking. I began to experiment using what came to hand from the garden and over the course of many months, and much sampling, Blue Slate Gin / Jin Llechen Las was created. The gin was launched in October 2017 in collaboration with my husband and business partner, Lew Hardy. It contains only botanicals that can be grown on a wild Welsh mountainside and is cut to drinking strength with our own mountain well water. A friend described the taste experience as “walking through the woods on a summers evening”. I guess I have at last found my art!
Blue Slate Gin / Jin Llechen Las is a truly small batch, hand-crafted gin inspired by the Dinorwig landscape. The label was developed alongside the gin, although I sometimes wonder which inspired the other!
Working with local artist Glyn Price to create our gin label:
In 2016, I started developing the gin and researching images of Dinorwig. I soon came across the work of local artist, Glyn Price. I was so inspired by his work that I contacted him straight away. To my surprise he was open to meeting to discuss possibilities.
Jess - Through early 2017, I worked with John Hayward at View Creative Agency, Rhos on Sea, to develop our logo and branding. Once this work was done, John put together a basic label design for Glyn to work the art piece around. This was a tricky process as I had a sense of what I wanted, but often struggled to articulate it – John and Glyn were very patient!
Glyn - Jess' passion and enthusiasm for not only gin and her business, but for the local area and co-working with local makers and craft people was both rewarding and inspiring. This gave me the energy to produce an original painting of the Dinorwig slate quarry, working towards a brief, of a place that has captured my imagination during my life time.
Jess - By June 2017, Glyn had completed a superb watercolour looking from the top of Dinorwig Quarry towards the sea, taking in views of Llyn Padarn, the Eryri mountain range, Llanberis and Coedd Dinorwig. This was taken back to the design team and Sean Slater who concentrated down the essence of the art work to a line drawing that could then be used to form the backdrop of the label.
Glyn - Having seen the end product of the label, and how the original painting has inspired the label design, it has increased my enthusiasm to continue to explore different methods of capturing the landscape that means so much to me. To have played my part in this exciting venture has been brilliant.
Jess - In September 2017 the labels were printed by Blush Publishing in Flint using letter press printing and hot foil embossing to create a textured effect – just beautiful! It has been an exciting collaboration and one that I hope inspires other crafts people and business to work together.
Glyn - The branding and the consideration of detail in Jin Llechan Las is very unique, passionate and deeply thoughtful. The reaction from the public has been brilliant and I can only wish them well on their exciting gin venture.
Find out more about Glyn’s work here