Cru Swim Wear- Created and Owned in Portugal-100% Handmade!

In 2016 Catarina Gil, pictured left, returned to her home in Portugal after a 6 month stay in the Netherlands, and was inspired by the Dutch people to start her own business.

“I started the company ‘Cru Swim Wear’ after living in the Netherlands because I realized the people there create a business based on what they like and what they believe in, and not to follow trends.” says 23 year old Catarina.

“When I arrived back to Portugal, I started putting on the table the things I love the most in life; fashion, summer, sustainability, nature… and I decided to create Cru Swimwear as a small project and business.”

Catarina says that due to the great weather in Portugal the swimwear market works pretty well, and it was not that difficult to start the swimwear line.

Having purchased my own pair recently from Catarina, I was so very impressed with the quality of the piece, so I asked Catarina if I could interview her about the brand. I later found out that every single piece is 100% hand made, which of course is why I was so struck by the quality of the garment.

“I believe my swimwear is special because each individual piece is made by one unique person to another unique person, and so no two pieces are exactly the same.

This way each piece is completely unique and becomes an expression of your own identity; highlighting the best in you!”

The brand Cru Swim Wear also supports nature in every way it can, and is a company that cares about their foot print and tries to follow a sustainable policy in every aspect.

“Creating a product related to the fashion industry but using natural materials and 100% handmade, that is our philosophy.” says Catarina.

As to why you should invest in a pair of hand made Portuguese bathers…

“The form,  the color, and the concept, of each piece is designed to bring out the best in each of us!

Clients like the way the swimwear fits, as all of our products are elastic and are lined with Lycra.

Then they enjoy the color palette which is based on thorough research and feedback from cliental, and then chosen carefully to represent the colours and feeling of nature; the beach, the ocean, the sand.

And finally, when clients read the concept they realize they are not only buying the product but the brand behind it; a small piece of Portugal, hand made and different.

Above all, our swimwear was created for the human body to get in contact with nature and immerse itself in water, to enable us to swim, and look and feel good while doing so.

When people purchase from Cru Swim Wear they notice these aspects and of course how good the quality of the product is.

In the end it is these pillars that justify the purchase.” adds Catarina.

While the brand is still in its early stages it is growing, and Catarina has been surprised more and more every year just how much it has expanded, not just in Portugal but internationally.

“It over came my expectations in so many aspects, and because of good social media communication we sell a lot to customers outside of Portugal via our website CRUSWIMWEAR.

As for the future…Catarina would love to make Cru Swimwear grow, as a Portuguese brand expanding into new markets, and ultimately bringing a small piece of Portuguese artistry and nostalgia to the rest of the world.

Sharish Gin…Gin for those friends who “don’t like gin”!

Have you ever found yourself sitting around a dinner table, and you ask your friends if they would like a gin and tonic and one or two of the people say “I don’t really like gin”.

After you make a note not to invite them again, you then ask them what gins they have tried and they list the most common gins like Gordons or Bombay.

Neither of these are bad gins, but for me it reminds me of avocado. I grew up on an avocado farm and my friends at school would say they hated avocado because they had tried to eat it straight off out of the skin with no seasoning. Typically you increment avocado slowly into things; on bread with salt and pepper, or in smoothies with honey, until gradually you find the taste itself to be delicious!!

Well, Sharish gin is like the toast, the salt and pepper, or the honey. It’s the gin that eases those ‘non gin lovers’ into loving gin because it is just so refreshing that you can’t tell you are drinking alcohol. Like a good Alentejo red wine it can be dangerous as the taste is so good you can be three gins down before you realise you are tipsy. But as far as Portuguese gins go (and world gins for that matter) this one is unique and very good.

Started in October of 2013, Sharish Gin is produced in the Alentejo by António Cuco and gets its name from the nearby village of MONSARAZ.

Used during the Muslim occupation, the Arabic term “sharish”, means xara or jara, the term for estella alentejana (Cistus ladanifer), which is a scrub found in the region, known for its wonderful scent that is often used in perfumes. (pictured right)

Sharish gin gets its unique taste and smell from a range of uniquely Portuguese ingredients, from Apple Bravo de Esmolfe DOP to oranges and lemons from Alentejo, passing through fresh Lúcia-Lima, together with the traditional juniper and coriander seed, complemented with cinnamon, clove, and a soft touch of vanilla.

All these ingredients are distilled separately in a traditional Portuguese alembic,(pictured left) and then submitted to a final blend.





I approached the founder of Sharish, António Cuco, for a chat recently, and he said the project started quite by surprise, and took a lot of work to get off the ground.

“I was challenged by a group of friends to create a gin at a dinner at my family restaurant. They wanted to try a new gin and we didn’t have any, so they suggested that I should create one,” says 35 year old Antonio.

“It was not easy in the beginning. I needed to make lots of research into gin and gin making because I had no background in the area and gin making is not a Portuguese tradition.

I started with an initial investment of around 100.000 Euros.”

With a degree in Tourism from the University of Évora, Antonio was formerly a professional teacher, and without assignment for the academic year, he took advantage of IEFP’s support to create his own job, and became a distiller of Sharish Gin.

Antonio says that his goal during the research phase was to create a gin and brand where everything was chosen for a reason, and everything added to the overall concept and idea.

“Even the shape of the bottle fits perfectly to the silhouette of Monsaraz, chosen for the logo. Nothing was left to chance in this production, everything has a reason for being, and the main one is a passion for gin, linked to the conviviality among friends. As they say in the Alentejo, “que vos faça bom proveito!“.


Currently the best-selling Portuguese brand in the world, and in the top 5  in sales in Premium Gin in the Portuguese market, Sharish exports 65% of their annual production overseas, to nations such as; UK, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Macau, Hong-Kong, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Vert, Sweden, Norway, São Tome e Principe, and Australia ;).

With a number if different varieties of Sharish Gin, Anotonio says that Sharish Gin Laurinius is his favorite.

“It’s a special edition with 12 months aging in Oak barrels previously used in Aguardente da Lourinhã aging.”

My personal favorite, and the gin to turn those non gin drinking friends into believers, is the Sharish blue gin…which magically changes colour as you add tonic water.

“To create the blue gin I knew that the Clitorea Ternatea reacted to citric acid because a French friend introduced me to the plant, I simply used this principle as a base for the gin.”

Antonio hopes that Sharish will continue to grow and increase their exports of this unique and tasty gin all over the world…

“And from this May forward we will be having our visitors center fully operational.” adds Antonio.