Ellen Wakelam, co-founder and owner of award-winning Mid Wales distillery, In the Welsh Wind, was a winner at the prestigious Natwest Everywoman Awards 2021 which recognise inspirational women in business across the UK.
Ellen, who founded the distillery with her partner Alex Jungmayr, in January 2018, won the ‘Demeter’ category which recognises the most inspirational woman running a business trading from three to five years.
Growing up in Tresaith, she went to school in Cardigan before studying geography at Liverpool John Moores University and postgraduate teaching at Aberystwyth University.
Ellen went on to work as a geography teacher, but had to leave Ceredigion for the Midlands to find work. Disillusioned with teaching, she returned to Ceredigion and found the focus and energy to set up a business with her partner after a three month walk around Wales.
After several years running a food business linked to the tourism industry, Ellen was travelling in Scotland with Alex where they were so inspired by small craft distilleries that they set up their own gin distillery.
Now, nearly four years old, In the Welsh Wind Distillery is an award-winning business in its own right. It produces several award-winning gins both under the In the Welsh Wind brand and also for other brands and businesses.
The distillery moved into and renovated the Gogerddan Arms pub in 2019, but business plans had to be put on hold during the first few months of the pandemic to produce hand sanitiser for the community. Spirits production is now firmly back on the agenda.
It is one of only five distilleries in Wales making whisky. Uniquely in Wales, In the Welsh Wind has pioneered a process which ensures that, from grain to glass, every step takes place within 10 miles of the distillery.
The distillery is also committed to providing training and employment for young people in the area, running a work experience scheme and offering opportunities through apprenticeships, Jobs Growth Wales and the Kickstart programme.
“To win this prestigious Natwest Everywoman Award is a huge honour, both for me and the distillery,” said Ellen. “I love being a woman leading a strong team, which is itself predominantly female, in an industry that is traditionally seen as very ‘male. But the distillery industry is changing and I’m proud that the team at In the Welsh Wind will be a part of that.
“I was incredibly inspired by all the stories I heard during the awards ceremony and everyone was a deserving finalist. Hats off to the judges who clearly had a very difficult job deciding between us all.”
Established in 1999, the Natwest Everywoman Awards has built a community of female business owners and exemplary role models with the aim of sharing knowledge and ideas, connecting them with advisors, peers and potential investors.
In 2021, the awards celebrate inspirational female founders whose creativity and resilience will help Britain weather the current economic storm.