From the changing industry to winter tipples, we talk all things gin with Joanne Moore, Master Distiller at G&J Distillers.
How long have you been distilling?
Since 1996! I’ve just celebrated my 20th year at G&J Distillers and my 10th anniversary as their seventh Master Distiller.
How has the industry changed over this time?
The industry has grown from a handful of recognisable brands to now a plethora of choice for the consumer. For me it’s always been a fun and interesting industry to work in, but it’s only in the last few years that general consumers are recognising this and think my job is cool!
Why did you choose distilling as a career path?
I often describe myself as an accidental distiller in that I didn’t set out to become a distiller. I started working for G&J Distillers straight after completing my degree in Biochemistry. I worked in the quality lab testing raw materials and finished product initially, then became Quality Manager after a few years, which gave me the opportunity to work with our previous head distillers on New Product Development.
I was fascinated by the world of botanicals and enjoyed playing around with flavour combinations to the extent that I discovered a talent for creating gins. This was recognised by the company in 2006 when I was appointed their seventh Master Distiller.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
It would have to be creating the brands such as BLOOM, Berkeley Square, Opihr and more recently Thomas Dakin. Having your name on the bottle, in the case of BLOOM, is very much a proud moment for me and continues to be.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Working on creative briefs and seeing the final product go live.
What is the most challenging thing about distilling gin?
Botanicals not behaving as you expect them to, but that’s also the fun part. If you don’t make mistakes you can never learn and progress.
How do you choose which botanicals to use?
That all depends on whether you’re given a creative brief or a blank piece of paper – for the latter I take inspiration from things around me and look to other categories to see what trends are going on that would lend themselves to gin.
Generally, how long does it take you to perfect a recipe?
How long is a piece of string? It’s hard to say as each project is unique but in the case of BLOOM and Berkeley Square it was nine months , Opihr five months and Thomas Dakin nearly 12 months – but I did have a slight career break on this one to have a baby.
What advice do you give to those looking to begin their career in distilling?
Be creative and enjoy what you do.
With winter on the way, what’s your favourite way to enjoy gin in the colder months?
There are some great hot toddy cocktails such as our Opihr and Chai tea but I’m always partial to a French 75 regardless of the time of year.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that people may not know?
This is a difficult one to answer. There are lots of things I would consider are interesting but not so sure anyone else outside of my family and friends would , so I would have to say that my chosen career and being one of the first female gin master distillers is something people find interesting.
What inspires you?
Acts of kindness inspire me.
What does the next 12 months have in store for G&J Distillers?
Growing our current brands into new markets and working on the innovation pipeline for new products; some may make it to market some may not.
Have you ever made a gin for a third party and been disappointed that it was so good that you did not really want to give it up?
I’m proud of all the gins I have created and been involved in over the last 20 years, so it’s nice to watch them succeed from the side lines.
BLOOM gin has probably been your own most distinctive signature gin to date. Are you always on the lookout for new and distinctive products and, in what is already a crowded market, are we likely to see any new gin products from G&J Distillers anytime soon?
Collectively we are always working on new gins so there’s no doubt you will see new gins in some form from G&J Distillers.