What did you do before creating GHQ Gin?
My background was Architecture and I left that in 2000 and owned / operated a group of post offices in Scotland, then sold them off and went into the nightclub industry in London as a trouble shooter in 2005. I learnt about the on-trade side of things and developed a promotional event into an internationally known name doing parties across Europe and America. In 2010 I designed and project managed the first of Bankside Vaults, a 20k square foot events space on the South Bank of London, specialising in corporate events, product launches and clubbing. During this time it was in the back of my mind to develop our own spirit brand but work just got in the way. We closed in 2019 due to a large residential and commercial development absorbing the premises and 2 adjacent acres. We were about to sign a deal on new premises in 2020 when the pandemic broke out.
What made you decide to create GHQ Gin and what's the inspiration behind it?
The pandemic, and closing down the previous business. I had attended a distilling course at Darnley’s, Kingsbarns to understand the process. Dot was my tutor and was brilliant, she introduced me to Isabella Wemyss who gave me good sound advice. The inspiration is my family. My granny Lena Lowe was a dispatch rider during WWII and worked for G.H.Q. Three of her sons went into the RAF, Army and paratroop regiments. At Christmas time the family would meet up in the south side of Glasgow where they would talk shop. I was just a kid and thought they were blathering, then certain things started to click together over the years. My granny had 11 children, living to over 100 years old and had quite the eventful life.
What is the meaning and story behind the GHQ Gin name and brand?
G.H.Q. General Head Quarters, the department my gran worked for. There are so many references to this in culture that it’s a readily identifiable name. I was very lucky to be able to have obtained the Trademark for it in the UK and several international territories.
Can you tell us more about the distillery you work with and the distillation process?
The spirit is distilled at Lost Loch outside Aboyne in Aberdeenshire. It is located about 15 miles from my sister's place in Strathdon where I store the spirits, in her converted stable. The distillery is owned and operated by Peter and Rich, two engineers in the offshore industry. Their technical ability and attention to detail is excellent, and Pete is a brilliant blender. They also use some of the purest water in the world, filtered through the cairngorm mountain range. They use an iStill, 500 litres - being engineers it’s all about precision and quality control. I worked with Peter in formulating the various blends in trial runs. And then used the services of Tobias Gorn and International Drinks Specialists to whittle down final blend. It’s such a personal decision that I knew I had to step back and let the experts step in and guide me.
What can visitors experience if they visit the distillery for a tour/tasting?
If you visit Lost Loch Distillery you'll get to meet the delightful Jan who runs the spirit making and tasting schools at the distillery. The Distillery also puts on some fine events with music and BBQ’s. Together with the mountain air and fine spirits, what else could you ask for.
What is your ambition for GHQ Gin in the years to come?
To make G.H.Q. Spirits a global brand name, having trademarked it globally and now nurturing distribution contacts in Europe, America, India, Australia and Japan the plan is to sell in these markets. The long term plan is to do a joint venture with Lost Loch on a new distillery which will also focus on whisky production.
What are your favourite ways to drink your gin?
Classic G&T. I remember after a long hard week there was nothing better than winding down that a classic G&T, or when you go on holiday and a lovely refreshing and cooling G&T in a warm climate….bliss. To ramp it up, then a Vesper Martini.
If GHQ Gin could collaborate with any person or brand in the world, who would it be and why?
Cate Blanchett, she is the epitome of a G.H.Q. agent.
Desert Island Gins: Which 3 gins would you take with you and why?
We will be at the Gin To My Tonic events in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow this year along with tasting events around the country, specialising in corporate and private tasting parties for groups. And we hit the Dutch and Swedish market this year too via Ginfling in the Netherlands.
You Might Also Like...