Left to right: Mike Phillips, Shane Williams, James Hook and Lee Byrne


What’s new in the lounges: Perthyn, the spirit of Wales

Low-alcohol spirit Perthyn has recently begun flowing in our T5 Lounges, adding a health-conscious kick to our cocktails. We sat down in Departures with the tipple’s founders, the former rugby stars Shane Williams, James Hook, Lee Byrne and Mike Phillips to chat travel tips, staying sober in the air and their favourite Perthyn mixes…

How did you go from the rugby pitch to pitching a new type of drink?
Shane: During our rugby days, the four of us were quite close. After retiring, we drifted apart, and lost touch. But we all knew that we would get into the business world, so we decided to do something collectively – get the lads back together and have a bit of fun along the way.

After visiting the Cardiff Distillery, we had this idea to create a low ABV spirit, as we’ve all come from a sporting background. We sat with our heads together, quite literally, and came up with Perthyn. The name Perthyn means ‘belonging’ in Welsh. It also means ‘related to’ or ‘family’. We just found that very fitting.
Lee: When we were playing alongside each other, we literally went into battle together. These guys have been on my side for the last 15 years, so it’s good to have them on my side for business.

What kind of drink is Perthyn?
James: It’s gin-based and it goes well with cocktails.
Shane: It’s something that you could drink with friends, but you know that if you’ve had a couple of glasses, you’re still OK to function and communicate. It’s called Perthyn because you want to get back together with loved ones, and at the same time actually remember that you’ve got back together.


Where did you source the botanicals that go into Perthyn?
Shane: What we wanted to do was bring a bit of ourselves into Perthyn, as well as the areas we live in. Mike is from down west, James is Port Talbot-based, Lee is from Bridgend and I’m from Carmarthenshire. A lot of work has gone into this first bottle, Perthyn 12, which is James’s flavour.
James: The lemon in Perthyn 12 is from Margam Country Park, near where I grew up.

How do you relax before a flight?
Shane: It’s about preparing yourself to go on a long trip, and that’s what’s great about the British Airways lounges. You just sit down, have a little drink, get ready and off you go. There really is no better place to be.

What’s your favourite pre-flight drink (that isn’t Perthyn)?
James: Diet Dr Pepper.
Lee: A pint of Guinness.
Shane: Beer.

inset-1-Lee-Greek-Islands inset-2-James-Marbella inset-3-Shane-Las-Vegas inset-4-Mike-Wales > <

A destination you can’t help but go back to?
Lee: The Greek islands.
James: Marbella.
Shane: I sound like a real party animal here, but I just love Vegas.
Mike: I live in Dubai, so coming back home to Wales is my holiday.

You’ve landed. How do you make yourself at home in a new destination?
Lee: Get into a routine as soon as you can. Coffee in the morning, a bit of gym perhaps.
Shane: Picture of the dog.
Lee: …And scented candles.
Mike: Get out there and see the people! Get to know the area.

Tips for getting over jet lag?
Mike: Stay up for as long as you can, and don’t have naps in the afternoon. You just have to grin and bear it for the first couple of days.
Shane: Look after what you eat and when you eat in different parts of the world.


Ready to say iechyd da? Do try this at home…


Ingredients: 50ml Perthyn 12, 25ml fresh lemon juice, 25ml simple syrup, a drizzle of crème de mûre, cubed or crushed ice, mint, fresh blackberry and icing sugar garnish.

Method: Add Perthyn 12, lemon and simple syrup to a rocks glass and stir, add cubed ice and stir again. Top with crushed ice and a small drizzle of crème de mûre. Garnish with the mint and blackberries and dust with icing sugar.


Ingredients: 35ml Perthyn 12, 15ml fresh lemon juice, 15ml simple syrup, 75ml non-alcoholic prosecco, cubed ice, lemon peel garnish.

Method: Add Perthyn 12, lemon juice and simple syrup to a shaker with cubed ice and shake. Double strain into a chilled flute. Top with Welsh fizz and garnish with lemon peel ribbon.

This article has been tagged Food + Drink, BA