A BUSINESSMAN has welded together his love of gin with his family’s Scottish shipbuilding history.
Greenock-born Andy Samuel is launching Shipyard Gin after the Covid pandemic all but put paid to his career as a wedding filmmaker.
The 37-year-old’s inspiration came from his grandfather and the local berries and flowers he used to collect as a youngster.
John Samuel worked in the Clyde shipyards in the 1930s and 40s as a plater. This was a skilled job that involved laying and riveting plates of steel to form the ship’s hull.
Andy said: “I’m Inverclyde born and bred and have always had a fascination with the shipyards.
“At one point during their heyday, ships built on the River Clyde amassed to a fifth of ships worldwide – which is pretty amazing for a river that’s only about 100 miles long.”
John’s hobby was making wine from locally collected berries and flowers, including elderberries.
Andy added: “When we were younger, we used to go out with my grandpa to pick berries. These are now the botanicals we’re putting into the gin.”
Gorse, elderflower and heather are all abundant locally and are three of the main botanicals in Shipyard Gin.
Andy said: “The gorse gives a vanilla, coconutty essence which is a very faint and delicate flavour.
“The elderflower gives a sweet note that complements the gorse. The heather is almost floral, but also very faint and ties everything together.”
Andy described his business as a pipe dream he has had for a long time which he never expected to turn into reality.
His wedding filmmaking business dropped from 38 events to two as the pandemic hit.
“I thought: ‘This is a great opportunity to start Shipyard Gin’. I had lots of time on my hands. So, I started looking into it – and now it’s launched.”
Andy and his head distiller, Lewis Scothern, developed the recipe over six months and three trial distillations.
Andy said: “I started looking at different flavour combinations using the same botanicals that my grandfather used in his wine.
“By some beautiful serendipity they all managed to go together quite well.
“The only thing we had to change was to use elderflower instead of elderberries.”
Shipyard Gin is 44% ABV (alcohol by volume) and is bottled in distinctive octagonal bottles which represent the bow of a ship.
The gin can be purchased online at www.shipyard-gin.com, with Andy hoping to reach customers across the UK and internationally.
“The uniqueness of this gin is its link to the shipyards, and this can be applied to lots of different shipbuilding areas around the UK, like Liverpool, Newcastle, Sunderland and Belfast,” he said.
“It also has global appeal and we’ve had some interest already from a hotel chain in the United States.”
Andy’s ambition is eventually to open a local micro distillery: “This would hopefully become a tourist attraction and could run tours that highlight the heritage of the shipyards,” he said.
As well as shipbuilding, John Samuel played number 5 for Greenock Morton FC – known then just as Morton – as a “no-nonsense centre half”.
On what his grandpa might have thought about the new venture, Andy said: “I think he would be extremely proud. He wasn’t a gin drinker – he was more a hauf and a hauf man. But I’m sure he would have liked a taste.”
Shipyard Gin is based at the old municipal buildings in Gourock.