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Welsh rugby star launches gin

Welsh Rugby Union player Sam Davies and his semi-professional footballer fiancé Elianna Chavez have kicked off their partnership with Hensol Castle Distillery with the release of a new gin.

Though he now plays as fly-half for FC Grenobles, in Southern France, Davies has returned to the green, green grass of home by choosing Hensol Castle Distillery in the Vale of Glamorgan as the consulting distillery for the launch of Toca Vida Gin.

Master distiller Dai Wakely collaborated with the sporty couple to create the spirit, which means ‘touch life’ in Spanish, and has been flavoured with Cuban grapefruit, Sicilian lemon, and lime. The American eagle on the bottle is a nod to Texas-born Chavez, while the dragon is for Davies, who incidentally played for Newport club Dragons RFC until earlier this year.

A statement from Davies and Chavez explained their side of the partnership: “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,” the statement continued.

The timing of the launch of this gin business is also indicative of an issue that could soon come to plague the Welsh game.

Speaking to BBC Scrum V, Davies, 29, noted that rugby regions’ budgets being cut from £5.2 million to £4.5m, an exodus of players abroad (including himself), and a struggle to find jobs are causing financial issues for players: “I’ve seen boys who are 23, 24 years of age, playing good rugby, probably should be getting contracts, but getting thrown to the side and not picking up anything and having to go to work in real jobs.”

The financial uncertainty many players face off the pitch has made drinks brands a popular side hustle. Welsh rugby legends Alun Wyn Jones, Shane Williams and Mike Phillips have all launched spirits in recent years.

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