Introducing our Spotlight Mini-Series!
We’re kicking off the year with a mini-series of short films that aim to transport you slap bang into the minds of the UK’s most influential distillers. We’re casting a spotlight on some of our favourite makers, looking at what drives these creative masterminds to do what they do, and covering a few key topics as we go. This is a rare (very rare – we’re one the first people ever to have been granted access to film a particular one of these iconic distilleries) chance to peek behind the curtain of Gin and come face to face with the Master Distillers who’ve steered the category back to its current status as king of the spirits.
Spotlight isn’t just an insight into topics that will fill you with curiosity and wonder, nor is it yet another interview. It’s a chance to navigate your way through some of the key areas impacting all makers, and to gain a glimpse of what day to day life is like for gin makers huge and small. You’ll hear their stories, see the passion that goes into their work and gain some real context as to the full history of what you’re drinking.
Informal and driven by the voices of the distillers themselves, Spotlight’s purpose it to showcase the known faces of our industry in a different way – to deliver a curated, never-before-seen dose of gin goodness that will only increase your love of the spirit.
Here’s our very own editor Olivier Ward explaining what we do and why we’ve launched #Spotlight.
So, who are we going to meet in the first four episodes?
We’ll begin – as all good things do – by delving through a bit of history! Heritage, history and legacy are all words that brands aspire to have real authenticity over, but what does it mean to live with them day after day? Is it a blessing or a burden? We’ll be meeting Sean Harrison, Master Distiller of Plymouth Gin to gain a closer insight into just what it means to shepherd an old gin in a new age. We’ll learn about his life as custodian of this iconic gin, some history about the infamous Blackfriars Distillery and hear some educated guess work as to what could be happening next within the category.
The future of the gin category will be a bit of a topic throughout the series, especially when we meet with Ian Hart of Sacred Gin – a man who is something of a pioneer when it comes to modern distilling techniques. Gin is, after all, one of the spirits that has most embraced innovation and new techniques, so meeting one of the men who has embarked upon this in true mad scientist way was pertinent. Ian, in our opinion, is the person who has had the most impact on other distillers’ understanding of the potential these new methods can bring. Quietly spoken and intensely focused, you’ll see why such a man, in such a set-up, can create ripples that echo far beyond these shores. Incidentally, if you’ve ever wondered what a British (and ultimately far more law abiding) version of Walter White would be like, this isn’t one to miss.
We’ll also be looking at what life as a Master Distiller is like today. What’s it like to create a gin? To have a portfolio of spirits? No one knows the role better than Beefeater’s distilling honcho Desmond Payne. Currently celebrating his 50th anniversary as a distiller, Desmond has not only witnessed the changing face of gin first hand, he’s been intrinsic to its development. What struck us most when we turned the spotlight on Desmond (the sheer glory of the copper stills and his lilting cadence aside), was the importance of the bar industry to distillers. To see their spirits used as a tool gives them the greatest satisfaction.
On our last instalment you’ll meet Charles Maxwell. Whether or not his is a name you know, you’re all but guaranteed to have tried a gin designed or distilled by him. As a third party contractor working for Thames Distillers, he’s one of the most prolific makers in the business, responsible for dozens (if not hundreds) of the new gins that have entered the market since the recent explosion in interest. We spent a whole day with Charles as we sought to gain an understanding of what it is that makes his distillery so unique, what gets him excited about the work carried out by Thames and to get a clearer picture of all the work undertaken by the distillery over the past 20 years.
This is the rarest of chances to see behind the scenes of a distillery that has very rarely allowed anyone backstage before; to take in the sights of the wizard that so many gin labels have made reference to over the years.
We look forward to presenting these instalments to you over the next few weeks, and hope you enjoy watching the Spotlight series just as much as we enjoyed making it. Don’t miss out on being the first to see new episodes by signing up to our newsletter, following us on Twitter or liking our Facebook page.
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