How did you get into the gin industry 50 years ago?
My first job was at Harrods, in the company’s wine cellars. But, I really started my career in gin when I joined a training scheme at Seager Evans in 1967, who were involved in the wine and spirits trade. Eventually, I found myself at Plymouth Gin where I trained to become the Distillery Manager, before finally moving to Beefeater Gin.
What's a normal day like for you working at Beefeater?
I’m fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to explore my three favourite subjects - travel, food and drink – but one where each day has a new experience. I love being heavily involved in the entire gin-making process and my passion for it is only getting stronger. Whether it’s buying the juniper berries or assessing the quality of the botanicals, I always want to ensure that I’m across every aspect of the process.
When I’m not making gin, I often get the chance to be involved in some exciting projects, like the Beefeater bartending competition, MIXLDN. I’m really looking forward to working with the next MIXLDN winner and creating a gin with them.
What are the biggest changes you have seen in the gin industry?
When I started at Beefeater, the gin industry was famous for a few well-known, long established brands. Now it is a totally different story, I wish I could claim to have foreseen the scale of the revolution of styles that was just around the corner! I think the growing popularity of gin will be long lasting and the new interest in high-end gins will continue to excite the market.
Today, there is a much broader choice of gins available than ever before, with a wide variety of botanicals and flavours, giving bartenders room to be creative and to experiment. We are also starting to notice bartenders returning to original ingredients and reintroducing gin to traditional cocktails, which were replaced by vodka during the second-half of the 20th century. We recently commissioned a new report, Cocktails: The New Golden Era, as part of this we look at the gin and cocktail industry within different countries around the world, and this highlighted that in nearly every country, gin is a category that is trending, which just goes to highlight the global boom gin is having.
What has been your career highlight?
There have been a lot of highlights and I’m proud to say they have mostly been with Beefeater. The creation of Beefeater 24 has to be one of my proudest achievements. Developing a brand-new gin from scratch was such a wonderful experience that I am incredibly proud of, and something I would love to get the chance to do again in the future.
It’s been great to see the reception of Beefeater 24 and I felt a real sense of pride when it collected the top ‘Trophy’ accolade at the International Wine & Spirit Competition the year after it launched.
What do you think the future holds for the gin industry?
I think we have room for some exciting innovations. At the moment we are seeing gin drinkers take an interest in new, high-end gins, and I look forward to trying these.
Gin has gone through highs and lows but right now it’s gin’s time to shine! I think the popularity of gin will only continue to rise as we keep seeing new flavours and innovations cropping up in the industry. One thing is for sure: you still can’t beat a classic Beefeater & Tonic!
Is there anything new you're still keen to work on and achieve?
I’m always keen to get involved in new and exciting concepts, there are so many projects I still want to be involved in. One being our Gin College, which is a great mentoring programme that allows me to share my 50 years of knowledge with budding gin enthusiasts and bartenders from around the world. Innovation is an area I am really passionate and something I am still keen to be involved in.
Don't forget to read The Gin Guide's tasting notes and review of Beefeater Gin, and to visit the Beefeater Gin Tour in London.