A new gin, created by a Lichfield couple to honour all of the babies born during the Covid-19 pandemic has just hit the shelves. Amy Norbury discovers more
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, it affected life in myriad ways.
Among the chaos, pregnant women and new parents had an additional layer of worry, with conflicting advice and uncertainty as to how Covd-19 may affect their babies, both in utero and as newborns.
Faced with midwife visits, hospital appointments and scans alone, and with medical staff hidden behind layers of PPE, it added unprecedented worry to what is, an already highly emotional time.
As a mental health nurse, working predominantly with women and mothers, maternal mental health is a cause extremely close to Maria Hunter’s heart.
And this came to the fore last year when the 30-year-old, from Lichfield, gave birth to her second son Elvin in October, following a pandemic-dominated pregnancy – and just as the country headed into lockdown for the second time.
It was a tumultuous time for Maria, as it was for all pregnant women and new parents, with the pandemic presenting many challenging times as she got to grips with the isolation of being a new mum in lockdown, as well as balancing the needs of baby Elvin with homeschooling her eldest son, five-year-old Ellis.
Now, as the country is getting back to a sense of normality, Maria is determined to commemorate the experience of being a pandemic parent.
So alongside husband Mathew, Maria has created Elvins Gin, in honour of their little own Elvin and all of the babies born while coronavirus raged on.
While a gin may seem like a leftfield choice in the circumstances, any parent who has endured enforced homeschooling will testify to the pleasure of a chilled G and T at the end of the week. And for the couple, it’s a case of doing what they know best.
Mathew, also known as The Liquorman, specialises in the wholesale and distribution of craft beers, ales and spirits – so he knows a thing or two about handcrafted, small batch gins.
Mathew says: “The idea for Elvins was essentially came from the fact that we had Elvin during the pandemic, and all of the horrors and troubles that came from that, not being able to attend scans, all of the extra worry that we, and other couples, encountered during this time.”
A percentage of the profits from all sales of Elvins Gin will go to Pregnant Then Screwed, a charity which is dedicated to helping pregnant women and mothers.
Maria says: “I already followed Joeli Brearley, who founded Pregnant Then Screwed and knew about her journey, how she’d faced discrimination when she got pregnant, how she was sacked from work.
“Throughout my pregnancy with Elvin, Pregnant Then Screwed provided a range of resources and advice, and we are so very thankful that this space exists for pregnant women and mothers. It seemed like a perfect fit for us.”
Pregnant Then Screwed is dedicated to stop the systemic, cultural and institutional discrimination faced by a vast amount of pregnant women and mothers every year. Founder Joeli Brearley and her team fiercely break down the walls against maternity discrimination, through campaigning to have voices heard while simultaneously ensuring that they provide up-to-date information about employment rights and options, whether this is legal advice or just a listening ear.
Joeli said: “’We are so delighted that Elvin’s gin will be donating a percentage of their profits to Pregnant Then Screwed as a way to honour the challenges pregnant women and new mothers have experienced during the pandemic.
“The money will go towards developing our support services for women who experience discrimination and fighting to change the systems which prevent them from having equal access to the labour market. Plus, the gin is absolutely delicious! So it’s a win-win all round.”
The two iterations of Elvins, a dry gin and a pink, have been handcrafted and distilled locally by Mathew and Maria, who tried, tested and tweaked the recipes, playing around with the botanicals until they were confident Elvins was just right.
Mathew says: “In terms of the Elvins Dry, we’ve made it to be very classy and elegant, very citrus-forward to adhere to the London Dry principles. In terms of the botanical split it’s actually 68 per cent juniper, which is really heavy juniper.
“The juniper is backed by white lavender, lemon thyme, grapefruit and lemon rind, which allows it to be a citrus-forward gin with a floral backbone and a nice, clean finish.”
“With the pink we toyed with a lot of different recipes, we discussed doing lingonberry as something different, but essentially we want to hit a slightly different demographic of drinker, but to keep it classy.”
The result is Elvins Pink, a wonderfully fruitful gin bursting with British strawberry, raspberry and rose. All natural flavours are used to create a grown-up iteration of a pink gin, backed by the 43 per cent ABV, the same strength as the dry version.
While Mathew’s expertise in the drinks industry has enabled the couple to create a small batch gin which would sit proudly on any shelf, it is Maria who has driven the look and feel behind the brand.
The tall, slender, elegant bottle has been imported from Italy, carefully chosen for its unusual aesthetic.
“We wanted something which looks different and stands out – not easy when there are more than 3,000 gins on the market,” says Maria.
The label, designed by Maria, is handwritten to display each bottle’s number within the batch. And with a tiny batch of each gin – just 150 bottles of the dry gin and 158 of the pink have been made in this first batch – customers know they’re getting a truly bespoke product.
While Mathew is used to championing handcrafted, small batch spirits, this is his first foray into developing a product of his own. Elvins Dry and Pink join an impressive line-up of some 75 spirits from small distilleries across the UK and beyond.
“We are passionate about independent businesses and the stories behind them,” explains Mathew. “The craft alcohol sector is the fastest growing segment of the market and the innovation and diversity means there is a product to suit any taste.”
Mathew is an advocate for independent, small brands. Having worked in the hospitality industry from the age of 14, eventually working his way up to be operations manager, he has seen first-hand how difficult it can be for small brands to get shelf space.
“Throughout various companies, I found that whenever a small, independent distillery or brewery would approach us, the bigger boys would just offer more incentives, deals and freebies. I was getting really frustrated that I couldn’t get the smaller brands stocked; it was just impossible for them to compete.”
So Mathew decided to take matters into his own hands, starting up The Liqourman in a bid to get independent brands stocked in other independents.
“Every brand that we stock is very small and independent,” says Mathew. “Recently we had one product which went into Morrisons, which was great for them, but we delisted the product because that’s not what we’re about. Our products are all from truly independent makers.
“And we buy independent and local as much as we can ourselves, because while you may pay a little more, you’re supporting someone and buying a product that’s made with care and love.”
Elvins Dry Gin and Elvins Pink Gin are available from www.theliquorman.com priced at £29.95, with free delivery within five miles of Lichfield.