Four years after a business inspired by an epic walk around Wales came to fruition, distillery co-owner Ellen Wakelam is encouraging budding entrepreneurs to “go for it”.

Founded by Ellen and partner Alex Jungmayr in January 2018 following their 1,000-mile trek, In The Welsh Wind is now producing more than 30,000 bottles of gin, rum and whisky a year.

They have come a long way in a short space of time, winning a plethora of awards for their products along the way and planning to expand the Cardigan-based business in 2022.

“We very much tread our own path,” said Ellen, who ditched a career as a geography teacher to go into the distilling business.

“We’re respectful of distilling traditions but we’re finding our own way.

“We’re really flexible in what we do, we like to take on new projects and work quickly on them. We don’t like to let anything to sit, we’re always pushing forward.

“We’re very fast-paced and if you come and work with us then things move forward really quickly.”

She added: “We had an initial business plan and that was to sell 3,000 bottles of our own gin, basing it on 50% trade and 50% retail, and we would have enough money to keep going and live off.

“When I look at that business plan and cashflow forecast now, it’s so naïve.

“One day, a local bar owner we know asked us if we could make 50 litres of gin for him to sell and that was the starting point for all the brands we worked with.

“We then helped establish a number of brands and took on brands that were with other people.

“We’ve worked with some big international projects as well, and all of that came from one conversation.”

Speaking during episode three of the Welsh Business Heroes series hosted by NatWest, Landsker Business Solutions and Newsquest, Ellen admitted “there was no plan B” had things gone wrong.

“That’s not me saying we always knew it was going to work, it’s just that we knew we had a good idea, we trusted each other to be able to make that work,” she said.

“If it hadn’t worked, we would have looked for the next thing, but because it’s working, we haven’t had to create a plan B yet.

“We looked at the environment and community we’re in, but a lot of it was just gut instinct. It felt right.

“In those early days, if you don’t really believe in it, I don’t think you can get other people to believe in it as well.

“When you’re starting, you need other people to trust you. You need a loan from somewhere or to use equipment from somebody else.

“If you’re passionate and believe what you’re trying to do, other people get on board much quicker.”

Ellen, who grew up in Tresaith, added: “There’s never a right time to start a business, there’s always a reason not to, but sometimes you just have to go and do it.

“If you’ve got a good idea and you’re prepared to work for it, go for it. If it doesn’t work then you’ve learnt something and can move on.”

A planned education and research centre would be the first in Wales to train future distillers and represent another special moment in the company’s success story.

“We organically grew much quicker than we would have ever anticipated in the first year,” said Ellen. “Within 12 months we had run out of space in the cowshed we were in.

“The big thing was that we found the property we’re in now, on the main road between Cardigan and Aberystwyth.

“We managed to secure a lease with an option agreement. We paid rent for a year and then had another year to raise the money to buy it.

“We went to the Federal Bank of Wales, who don’t normally work with businesses less than two years old, but because they’d seen our growth, they supported us and helped us find a building.

“We grow our own barley on site, we malt it on site, it’s fermented, distilled and casked on site. That is a huge achievement and I’m so impressed by what we and the team have done.

“Continuing that and creating that legacy is probably what I’m most proud of so far and will be for quite a long time.”