Food & Drink, News

Ex-Wales professional rugby international launches gin brand with award-winning Welsh Distillery – the UK’s only distillery located in a castle

Ex Wales rugby player Sam Davies and his semi-professional footballer fiancé Elianna Chavez have selected Hensol Castle Distillery as the Consulting Distillery partner for the launch of their new brand of gin, Toca Vida.

With so much financial uncertainty facing topflight rugby professionals, many, like Sam, are being forced to consider life after their sport far earlier in their careers than ever before. Sam and Elianna have designed and created their own gin recipe and brand that mirrors their story of being together and join the likes of Alun Wyn Jones, Shane Williams and Mike Phillips who have all launched spirit brands in the last few years.

The partnership with Hensol Castle Distillery has been just under a year in the making. Their award-winning master distiller Dai Wakely worked with the duo to help them with every step of the process. From product development through to brand guidance and supplier introductions, the Distillery team of professionals at Hensol has been there at every step of this high-profile journey.

Hensol Castle Distillery contract bottling division currently produces over 300 sku’s for over 60 clients and includes agreements to produce gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila, vermouth and liqueur brands for UK, European and American clients.

Chris Leeke, Managing Director of, said:

“We do everything we can to ensure that the contract bottling and white label partnerships that we have in place represent far more than just a commercial agreement. Our entire team is on hand to pass on our advice and considerable experience of producing award-winning spirits in order for them to stand the best chance of succeeding.

“This includes helping to build relationships with a number of our preferred suppliers, something that many other commercial bottling companies refuse to do. We are excited to finally see Elianna and Sam’s Toca Vida hit the market and will continue to support them in every step of their journey.

“It goes without saying that to help a local Welsh rugby player is a huge additional bonus for us given that Hensol Castle Distillery is part of the Vale Resort and is the home of the WRU, and we wish Sam every success as he now begins a new journey in his playing for Grenoble in France”.

Speaking about working with Hensol Castle Distillery, Elianna Chavez and Sam Davies said:

“When searching for a distillery to bring our vision to life, we were drawn to Hensol Castle Distillery for its exceptional reputation and expertise in producing high-quality spirits. We were impressed by the distillery’s commitment to craftsmanship and attention to detail, which aligned perfectly with our own values for Toca Vida Gin. The distillery team provided invaluable insights and technical support, ensuring that every batch of Toca Vida Gin meets the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship. We are grateful for their collaboration and the seamless partnership we have formed.”

Hensol Castle Distillery has the capacity to bottle up to five+ million bottles of spirits per annum. In the relatively short time since the distillery launched in 2021, its own three Hensol Castle gins have won numerous gold medals, including Best in Country at this year’s World Gin Awards plus an additional 15 gold medals won for contract bottling clients in 2023.

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