Jack Mayo – Makar Glasgow Gin
As part of an ongoing series on Gin Foundry, as well as adding additional insight into the gins included in the Ginvent Calendars – we’ve gone behind the scenes and interviewed the makers behind the spirits. Today, we meet Jack Mayo, the distiller of Makar Glasgow Gin.
Gin Foundry – Hi Jack, Makar is a relative newcomer to the gin category but how long have you been distilling yourself?
Jack Mayo – Since 2014
That’s quite a short time so far. We covered it a little in the article about Makar mentioning you went from astrophysics to gin smithery… What made you shift career and what got you into gin?
I have a passion for creating things, but also all things science – I find distillation to be the perfect combination of the two.
You’ve got a beautiful still nicknamed Annie, could you describe how you distill Makar Glasgow Gin?
Makar contains 8 carefully selected botanicals in total. Along side the holy trinity of juniper, angelica and coriander we have liquorice, cassia bark, black pepper, fresh lemon peel and fresh rosemary – many of which are familiar ingredients in the kitchen and for the same reasons, they make great additions in gin, complimenting the bright, robust notes of the juniper perfectly.
For distillation, the majority of the botanicals are placed into the main pot along with the alcohol and water, whilst the fresh lemon peel, fresh rosemary and coriander seeds are placed within the gin basket that sits within the helmut at the top of the still. Makar is distilled seven times in total with adds a roundness to the gin. With each distillation lasting seven hours, Annie produces a total of 300 bottles of Makar Glasgow Gin per run – we only produce Makar as a one–shot gin.
For those who haven’t tasted it, (and possibly looking forward to trying it from their Ginvent calendar later!) how would you describe your gin?
Makar Glasgow Gin is a traditional juniper-led dry gin where the bold vibrant juniper is the real star of the show. Each of the supporting botanicals add different layers of subtle complexity that gives a fully rounded and balanced gin. On the nose, fresh pine and eucalyptus with hints of citrus and rosemary are at the forefront whilst on the palate Makar is savoury, herbal and spicy with a long smooth dry finish.
What do you think makes Makar Glasgow Gin unique?
We bring juniper back to the fore as the star of the show, which is where we rightfully believe it should be.
We agree and have said it over and again, Makar is possibly one of the most juniper forward gins on the market. Delicious! We all love a tipple or two so other than your own, what other gins to you enjoy? Are there any that you particularly like?
Quite wide ranging set of three in terms of profiles and that in itself is quite reflective of a category which is filled with many gins and a lot of diversity – how do you feel Makar stands out other than just flavour?
Our gin lies true to its roots of being distilled in small batches, using the traditional one-shot technique, and sourcing only the finest botanicals, we add nothing that isn’t essential in producing what we believe is an exceptional spirit.
And do you get to be involved in some of the consumer tastings and events? Is there even enough time for you to do that?
As the distiller, I have indeed been involved in a number of tastings, events and festivals, ranging from members of the public with specific interests in the science of distilling, those with a passion for a great G&T, private groups of engineers, along with both gin and whisky festivals – a great variety!
Distillery co-founder Mike Hayward and yourself were heavily involved in the gin’s inception. How long did it take to create Makar and did you set out to achieve something in particular when you began?
Mike had developed many facets of the recipe, both as a concept and as a liquid prior to bringing me on board, but once I was involved we managed to hone the final recipe in relatively quick succession – this involved first and foremost returning to the origins of each botanical, selecting only those which we believed would add a coherent element to the clarity which we sought in the spirit. Tweaking of the recipe and production on Annie was achieved in short order due to the meticulous planning and preparation that preceded her arrival.
The initial runs are both hard work and incredibly rewarding too. How about now – what’s the best part of your job? Do have a favourite moment when you distil?
The best part of the job is arriving first thing in the morning; starting from a dark silence the distillery gradually comes to life and there’s a real buzz about the place. When distilling my favourite part, and one that never ceases to amaze me, is the evolution of flavour as the spirit flows from the still.
Nice and Simple – G&T, preferably with a clean, dry tonic; a mixer that gives an honest appraisal of the gin and allows it to shine in its own right.
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