How did you get into gin and become a distiller?
I started working in the quality control lab for G&J Distillers back in 1996 after completing my degree, half expecting it to be a stop-gap. 20 years later, having risen through the ranks of quality management and working alongside the previous head distiller on NPD, I became their 7th master distiller in 2006. I often describe myself as an accidental distiller as it’s not something I set out to do, but discovered I had the skills for creating gins which I’m passionate about and really enjoy, so find myself 20 years later in the same industry.
What's a normal day like for you as a distiller?
No two days are the same as I can be at the distillery or out in market doing a gin masterclass. For the days I am at the distillery they will always involve the following functions – tasting product on our tasting panel, approving botanicals and spirit for gin production, researching flavours, trends and playing around with flavours in our tasting lab; plus keeping on top of the general email traffic we all accumulate in any business nowadays.
Where do you get the inspiration for the gins you create?
Typically I take inspiration from what’s around me, whether that’s travel or other food and drink categories.
For each of your gins, how would you describe them in 3 words?
What's your favourite way to drink gin?
French 75 for BLOOM, Gimlet for Berkeley square, Opihr with ginger ale, and Thomas Dakin in a negroni, but it all depends on my mood... I’m always partial to a good G&T with our brands and the appropriate garnish to bring out the key flavours in our gins.
Where do you see the gin industry heading in the next few years?
Well none of us have a crystal ball but I hope that gin is still going strong and performing well as a category. Whilst we may see some slowdown in some markets, others will be just be opening. We are starting to see sub-categories of gin like flavoured gin in some markets but only time will tell if this is something of substance and growth. There is also a whole macro-trend in health and well-being across a lot of food and drink categories, so it will be interesting to see how this correlates to our industry.
What's next for you and your gins - any exciting plans?
Continuing to educate trade and consumers of our brand portfolio to help grow the footfall of our brands in existing markets and new markets; plus always working on our innovation pipe fill.