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Anglesey producers launch gin with seafood twist

L-R: Rob Laming and Maria Jones of Llanfairpwll Distillery and Shaun Krijnen (right) of Menai Oysters and Mussels Ltd, who have collaborated to create Menai Oyster Gin.

The world is their oyster for two Anglesey producers who have combined their skills to launch a new alcoholic drink with a seafood twist.

Menai Oyster Gin is the result of a novel collaboration between craft producer Llanfairpwll Distillery and shellfish enterprise Menai Oysters and Mussels Ltd.

Over the first lockdown, distiller Rob Laming and oyster producer Shaun Krijnen hatched a plan to create an oyster-infused gin. Now the spirit is on sale ready for Christmas.

Llanfairpwll Distillery is a member of Food & Drink Wales Fine Food Cluster, and Menai Oysters and Mussels Ltd is part of the Food & Drink Wales Seafood Cluster. Facilitated by the Cywain project, the Cluster programme fosters connections between businesses in the sector.

The launch of Menai Oyster Gin said Fine Food Cluster Manager, Jayne Jones “Exemplifies the spirit of collaboration and the ethos of clustering.”

“We’re delighted to support Rob and Shaun with their new venture. The past months have been incredibly difficult for food and drink producers, so it is wonderful to see the development and launch of such an inventive product.

“Cywain is encouraging people to ‘Keep it local, keep it Welsh!’ this Christmas, and I’m sure Menai Oyster Gin will be a popular present choice.”

Local ingredients are the key to Llanfairpwll Distillery’s success. In just two years, the business has become one of the biggest craft distilleries in Wales.

Started as a kitchen-top enterprise by Rob Laming and Maria Jones, the distillery quickly outgrew its domestic surroundings and is now housed in a distillery unit in Gaerwen.

Capturing the spirit of Anglesey in a bottle, the company believes in harnessing the nature of the island as much as possible.

“Everything we make has something local in it,” says Rob. “All the fruit, honey and key botanicals we use are all from Anglesey.”

Like most producers, Rob and Maria have found 2020 to be a rollercoaster-ride. “It has been a difficult and very different year. When Covid-19 hit, we switched production from spirits to hand sanitizer, which just kept us ticking over during the first lockdown. But now we’ve re-started making spirits again.”

However, a chance conversation back in March led to a lockdown project and the eventual creation of Menai Oyster Gin – not to mention a successful collaboration between two Anglesey businesses.

After much trialling and testing, the result is a ‘smooth and creamy gin with a gentle taste and aroma of the sea’. Complemented by juniper and citrus it makes a refreshing long mixed G&T.

Unlike anything ever done in Wales before, the gin is now available to buy from both Llanfairpwll Distillery and Menai Oysters.

Says Rob, “It’s great to be able to work with Shaun. It fits in with our company ethos of using local produce and helping local businesses. It’s more important than ever these days to look after each other.”