Lush Life Podcast Transcripts: Joe Worthington – How to Make Gin in the Yarra Valley (#140)

Lush Life Podcast Transcripts: Joe Worthington – How to Make Gin in the Yarra Valley (#140)
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Joe Worthington, Four Pillars Gin, London

Make the Who Shot Tom Collins is here and settle down to imbibe this transcript of my interview with Joe Worthington, European Trade Relations Manager of Australia’s award-winning Four Pillars Gin.

Being great at something doesn’t mean you want to do it for the rest of your life. Our guest today discovered that almost immediately upon entering university. Joe Worthington left Paradise Lost to seek a new paradise on the other side of the world.

Now, as European Trade Relations Manager, he happily spends all day studying Australia’s award-winning Four Pillars Gin and professing its merits.

This episode originally aired on January 16, 2020.

You can listen to this episode here, or any of your favorite podcatchers.

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Joe Worthington. Just remember that I own the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of Lush Life podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as my right of publicity. So if you want to use any of this, please email me!

Transcription made possible by:

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Susan: Hello!  Great to have you here! Let’s start where I always do! Tell me a little bit where you grew up and your family.

Joe: I was born in a place called Burnley. Lancashire, but I went to university in Leeds,There’s a great rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire, which stems from the cricket –  the White Rose versus the Red Rose. I’m a bit of a cricket fan, as well as every other sport of that you can imagine.Being born in Burnley, I’m also a big Burnley football fan. I grew up in a place called Reed, which is about 25 minutes outside of Burnley, and about 40 minutes outside of Manchester, with my mom and my stepdad, Colin, who has been my stepfather for around 26 or 27 years, so he’s practically a father to me. My father sadly passed away a few years ago, but I have big families on both sides and lots of grandparents. My nana is still here. She’s 96 and she only stopped playing golf about three years ago. My step grandfather is still alive at 92, and then I’ve got heaps of cousins, as well, who now have kids. So it’s a big, extended Northern family.

I grew up in this village, and when you grow up in a village you play football for the local team, you play cricket for the local team and everybody knows everybody’s business. If someone has an affair, everybody knows!  It’s like Emmerdale, it’s like a soap.. It was fun and I made some friends for life. Still I was bad and they had to withdraw me from my first high school, because I was suspended a couple of times.

Susan: You were a bad boy?

Joe: I’m a bad boy, which is essentially why I’ve ended up in this industry.

Susan: …and why you ended at the end of my microphone.

Joe:  When I was 11 years old, I set someone’s blazer on fire with a Bunsen burner. It’s not all that funny! It turned out to be quite flammable. So I’ve got suspended. My mother decided to take me out and send me to a different school about 40 minutes drive away, which turned out to be the best school called Saint Augustine’s, which turned out to be pretty epic.

Susan: I’ve never heard anyone say that a Catholic school is epic..

Joe: Well, I just had a great time at school. I really did. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was on a daily report card every day, where every teacher has to sign it for every single class ever. But, I still had a great time. I had lots of friends, played sports all the way through high school. I loved it.

Susan: Were you ever thinking about your future, what you were going to do when you grew up?

Joe: I’ve always been full of these great ideas of what I wanted to be. And actually to this day I still have the same dream – to be the Radio 1 breakfast show host, I’ve got face for radio. You see? That was always my dream and it’s still my dream. I’m not gonna give up on it just yet, which is bizarre considering I do most of my work now in the evening.

I never actually knew what I wanted to do. My mother worked for a couple of big newspapers locally, and, because I was very good at English language and literature, she thought I should pursue that. Since she was working in newspapers, she was always pushed me to becoming a journalist and to do an English degree.

I just fell into that and I was studying at A Level and I got a great result, I went on to study that, at university, first in Manchester. I hated it there, so then went to Leeds. I went to three universities in three years and dropped out every single one.

Susan: Not because you were bad and lighting things on fire, I hope?

Joe: No, not anymore. I only did that when I was 11. It just wasn’t for me. I would never say that I’ve got any sort of ADHD, but I can’t pay attention to something for so long if it’s not interesting.

Susan: But you did so well on your A levels. you would think that that would translate into…

Joe: Oh, you think, but it didn’t. When you get to organize your own schedule, it turns out you can choose to go out at night and then not get up and miss a lecture. It was dark down the rabbit hole. Which one do you want to do? Do you want to go out and drink some Midori sours? Or to wake up to Twelfth Night and William Shakespeare and Toby Belch.

Susan: Did you ever think I’m drinking in these bars, now I’m going to get behind the bar?

Joe: I worked for a company in Leeds for a couple of years and I always worked part-time whilst I was studying or playing football or rugby or whatever.

One summer, I got offered a job working in really good restaurant in La Manga, Spain. One of my friends worked there the previous summer and he suggested it to me. Whilst I was there, I got an offer from the company I was working for back in Leeds saying that they’d love for me to come on board as a full time bar manager. Now at the age of 19 years old or 20, getting offered £17,000 a year feels like you’ve won the lottery.

I’m going to be earning more than £1000 pounds a month. I can’t wait. Of course, I said yes. Then I dropped out of university and I remember Mum and Danielle, who’s my eldest sister, were not happy.  They kept telling me that I shouldn’t waste this beautiful brain I’d been given. They didn’t say that exactly but, why waste any sort of gift by not going to university and a degree or an education? My sister said I was going to regret it forever. It was actually my stepdad who said that this was the first thing I’d ever stuck at for any sort of period and maybe just give me a shot and let me just do what I want.

I’m still 20 at this point, so if it turned out to be the wrong decision, I had time to correct it. I just heard yes, go and do what you want to. That’s exactly what I did. I worked for that company for another year. Then I got fired .

Susan: OK, but wait, while you were working at the company, before you were fired, what were the things that you were doing and did you love them?

Joe: I was working at a place called Trio, and it was this four story venue  – a basement, rock and roll bar, and, then on the middle floor, a restaurant that was open all day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then the top floor was Skippy’s Bar, which was a more refined cocktail lounge that did smaller dishes. I was the bar manager. So essentially it was just day to day running of the liquor interest. We had a great team and that’s what I loved about it. It was a family. Every single day you’re working with people that you love and still to this day, I’m in touch with.

I remember people saying to me, if you go for a career in hospitality, you’ll never have a social life. My career in hospitality was my social life, and that’s why I absolutely adored it. I was young and you can go for nights on end without sleep, and you can say Tom Cruise in Cocktail was your idol. You’re allowed to do that, but it changes as you mature. You understand more about what it is that hospitality gives you, which for me, was a lesson in how to speak to everyone.

Susan: Did you know then this is the business I want to be?

Joe: I knew that I wanted to be in the business of people. It’s such a cliche because people say all the time, the one thing I love about hospitality is that no two days are the same, but no two customers are. I mean, you can get regulars, which is great. Being in hospitality is like being in one long conversation. I didn’t want to give up and that’s basically the reason why I’m still here.

Susan: Because you’re still talking!

Joe: That’s exactly the reason.

Susan: Now, you said you were fired.  Hopefully for not setting anything on fire!

Joe: I think it was the right time. The bar needed some freshening up, but I was in the wrong.  I tried to manipulate some stock to make us look like we were doing better than we were. We’re up lots of Guinness and down loads of vodka. So every time someone ordered a Guinness, I put it through as a vodka, that sort of thing. it questioned my integrity, getting fired gave me a real kick in the ass. It shows that you can’t just mess around with somebody’s business like that. It’s not fair to them.

Susan: Of course. Did you ever think about going back to university?

Joe: I did and I still do to this day.

Susan:  I meant at that point.

Joe: I did think about it, for a fleeting instant.

Susan Where did you go from there?

Joe: I saw an ad on something called caterer.com. I was just trolling that day in, day out looking for jobs in Leeds or Manchester, seeing where I could go. I saw an ad for a cruise ship called the Pacific Pearl. I remember I had six interviews for it and ended up getting the role.

Susan: And what was the role?

Joe: The role was Head Bartender for 16 bars on the cruise ship. I had been a bar manager of a high volume bar and restaurant in Leeds, so they thought I was a good fit. They wanted to make sure the right personality as well, which is why all the interviews were in place. I didn’t have two pennies to rub together.

Susan: Where exactly were you going?

Joe: It was the Pacific Pearl, so sailing around the Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, Papa New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia, French Polynesia.

Susan: For how long?

Joe: A six month contract. They wanted to fly me via Hong Kong. I got my flight details and everything very quickly. When I was in the air, I realized that the second flight was booked literally half an hour after my first and there is no way I was going to make it. I missed the flight and I couldn’t get in touch with anyone from the cruise ship because it was a night. I hadn’t really met anyone from from Carnival and I had maybe £15 in my bank account. So obviously I had to ring home at the first hurdle and said, I need some money.  I remember my mom sent me maybe £100 and I got a hotel, and by the time they rebooked me a flight in the morning and it was all fine. But obviously I arrived 14 hours late.

Susan: Did you miss the boat?

Joe: No, I didn’t miss the boat. Thank god! I was meant to get there in the evening and then settle in and have a night on the boat, meet some people, meet the teams, because there was a bar staff of 120. Then the next morning, we were going to do sail away from Sydney. However, I got there one hour before sailing.

I had to change, get my uniform and then start work. Then I got my induction later that afternoon, but at first I had to go straight to the bar. Then we sailed a three day voyage from Sydney to Oakland and the seas are super rough.  I had never been on a cruise ship before, so I had not realized that I was going to get seasick. When I say seasick, I mean I was violently ill. I was projectile vomiting. That was the closest I’ve been to wanting to die ever. It was the worst feeling I ever had.They sent me down to infirmary.

They sent me to induction first. Induction was at the top of the ship level 15 in the boardroom. That’s the worst part of the ship because it has the biggest movement. The rise and fall – Oh my God. I remember a girl sitting opposite to me. Later, she told me that she just kept looking at me thinking he’s green and he’s not going to last on this ship.

I had to leave the induction halfway through and went down to the infirmary. They put me face down on a table, pulled my trousers down and injected me in my bum. They then sent me straight to your cabin, which I’ve not been to yet and hadn’t met my cabin mate yet, and told me it was going to knock me out.

I was out for maybe 14 or 15 hours. I woke up about midnight and needed to eat. I left my cabin and, on the other side of the floor, there was the staff canteen and the crew bar. I heard lots of noise and music, and I quickly got introduced to everyone straight away after a few beers. That girl who had seen me so ill, Stephanie, we ended up being together for eight years.

Susan: So you got your sea legs…

Joe: I loved it. I worked every single day, 10 hours a day. It might be 6:00 AM till 10:00 AM or it might be 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, and a baptism of fire. I’d say it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Susan: Were you starting to then develop your bartending skills, were you making classic cocktails? What kind of drinks things were you making?

Joe: Do you know what? The biggest thing I learned on that cruise ship, and I will get to the drinks things, the biggest thing I learned was to appreciate culture and people because 90% of all the bar staff where either Philipino or Indian. I had never been in an environment like that before. I learned that people from these cultures have some of the most beautiful culture in the world. Holding hands before a Chinese dinner in Fiji was a real eye opener for a Northern lad.

These guys had worked on cruise ships for years, 30/40 years old, and I got put in there as a 21 year old, as their boss, so I learned more about people than about anything else. Cocktails. I’d say I learned more in Leeds. The cocktails on a cruise ship were WooWoos, Cosmopolitans. They were easy to pump out and prepped in batches. There was a couple of bars where the expensive booze was and where you could make a proper drink.

Susan: And how long were you on the cruise line for it?

Joe: It was seven months.

Susan: Did you ever think of renewing that contract?

Joe: I did, but I chose not to. My girlfriend didn’t want to go back on either. We moved to London. I went to work for a company called Corney & Barrow, widely known now as wine merchants, but they used to have 24 bars throughout the city, the square mile of London. I went to work for them at the age of 20 or 22, but I was only there for six months before deciding to go to Australia.

Susan: Was Stephanie from London?

Joe: She was from Kent.

Susan: So you decided to up sticks and go to Australia.

Joe: It was one of those things. I think we’d seen a couple of people do it, but really it was a matter of  how far can I get away from where I grew up. I don’t know if that was the exact reason. Simply, it’s hot and there are heaps and heaps and heaps of beaches. Heaps. See the Australian is coming out!

There apparently was a great food and food and drink scene. There was an offer on some flights with Thai Airways or Turkish Airlines, and we just bit the bullet. I went to Melbourne and stayed in St. Kilda and hated it. I was arguing with everybody. I was angry. I was working, a bar for cash and it was just, it was just shit. Very quickly, I decided that I was going to go off on my own to Sydney  What I learned about myself is that I, I am so social, I love to be in social situations, but I need my alone time and I need to be able to decompress and find my center again. it was one of the best things I’ve ever done andI was in Sydney for three and a half, four years.

Susan: Did you know what you were going to do there or did you just go and pound the pavement?

Joe: I knew that I was going to work in a bar and crash on a mate’s sofa. I knew that I would have to find a job within three or four weeks if I wanted to actually survive. I remember ringing my parents and my grandparents for some money and I got told no. They said that I chose to go to the other side of the world and I would have to  look after yourself. I despised them for it, but I made a point of saying to myself, that’s the last time I ever ask them for money. Your meant to be an adult now, act like it.

I got a job in a restaurant bar called Bondi Hardware, just off the beach. I was working for two guys called Ben and Hamish. I’ve had probably four or five mentors and, those two are as close to the top as anyone could possibly be. I was interviewed by the groups’ bar’s manager called Locki. I wore a blazer to a bar interview, but I thought I’d try making impression and I got the job.

Susan: It worked! You were wearing the jacket. You made an impression.

Joe:  I made an impression. The reason I adore Sydney so much, obviously it’s the city to surf in and the proximity to the beach is absolutely fantastic, but the reason I love Sydney so much is because of the people.  Ben and Hamish sponsored me. They paid good money, good, strong Aussie dollars to keep me in the country.Because as an expat, you can only do six months at a time if you want to work. Instead, they went through immigration and sponsored me, paid all that money to keep me on.

Susan: What were you doing for them?

Joe: I initially started as a bartender. The pay in Australia is $20, $25 an hour. Suddenly you work 60 hours a week and you feel rich. I then progressed to bar manager and, as soon as I got sponsored, they have to pay you a minimum salary.  They opened a new venue called SoCal, which is a Southern California Taco Joint. It had a rooftop outside area and was absolutely gorgeous venue. I ended up working my way to General Manager and stayed there for a couple of years, then they opened another venue in the city.  went to open that as General Manager.

Then I got the news that my dad had been taken ill. He got cancer and the decision was made for me to move back home. I had to work because you just can’t survive. I needed a job where I could have weekends free to obviously spend time with my old man. I went to work for a Scottish brewery called BrewDog, which you’ll know has some great beers, but I did not have a good time there.

Susan: You weren’t up in Aberdeen, were you?

Joe: I did have to go there once. It felt like once a week. I had a flight to Aberdeen and then get a taxi to Ellon. They’re a great company. I’m not going to bad mouth them, but I felt there’s a little bit of brainwashing going on – we’re the best, Peroni and Budweiser are rubbish and all the rest of it.

I was a craft beer fiend, but in the end, after three months, I thought it really wasn’t for me. I am not interested in what’s trying to be forced down my throat. I wish them all the success. Of course, they clearly have done that.

Susan: Back to Australia for a second, because we are also here to talk about Four Pillars Gin. When did you start hearing about them? They’ve only been around for about five or six years.

Joe: Actually, it was working for Applejack, the company Ben and Hamish own. We stocked the Rare Dry Gin, which is Four Pillars hero, the baby, the first one, which is a real classic, clean, citrus driven gin. It makes a wonderful Gin & Tonic and Martini. We start stocking it that year and I remember Stu and his team from Liquid Ideas, which is his PR company, came into SoCal and he gave me a bottle and asked me if I wouldn’t mind making some Negronis with it. That would have been maybe a year into its inception in 2014.

Susan: Did you started stocking it before you had met them?

Joe: I don’t think we’d stocked it before I’d met him, because we didn’t have a bottle behind the bar. Stu gave me personally a bottle. I’ll get onto how generous we are as a brand after. He gave the bar a bottle and asked us if we wouldn’t mind making some Negronis with it,  but charging them full price, which again is just a little thing, but it goes a million miles, especially when you’re a brand new venue. Ever since then, AppleJack and Four Pillars had a great relationship. We started putting it in cocktails on the list. Before Four Pillars, maybe there was one of a gin brand, and that was it behind the bar.

Susan: We’re only here to talk about Four Pillars!

Joe: I think now there’s over a hundred brands. It shows how far it’s come. Before that, it was just the big five: Gordon’s, Bombay, Beefeater’s, Tanqueray, and Hendricks. And now Four Pillars, it’s the second best selling premium gin behind Hendricks only.

Susan: I guess you were blown away by it after sipping those Negronis.

Joe: I was just a great gin. And for them to call it Rare Dry Gin, you automatically ask the question, why is it rare? And you learn that they put in these botanicals like Lemon Myrtle and Tasmania Mountain Pepperberry Leaf, that are obviously native to Australia. It was the brand story as well, how they’re dedicated to a modern Australia and the craft of bartenders.

It struck a chord and we wanted to support local. We started putting them in all our specials boards and in our menus. We started holding in-house competitions across all the venues, where Stu would come down. Very quickly we cultivated a close relationship.

Susan: Five years ago, you came back to a job you didn’t like and then what?

Joe: Then I got a job working for another gin brand, which you may or may not know, called Portobello. They were opening their distillery in Notting Hill and I interviewed for the position of General Manager. I took that job and it was a steep learning curve. It’s made up of four floors – the Ginstitute, which is where you blend your own gin, the shop, the bar, the restaurant, and the three hotel rooms as well. It was a big job with 60 staff.

I’ve always worked for companies for quite some time, so I was against leaving. However, a man called Stuart Donald Gregor from Four Pillars had come over to the UK to interview for a job and wanted to know if I knew any of them.

We went out for dinner and we never mentioned me working for them. Then the next day, he called me to have a drink. he said they were all rubbish and I should take the job. But I felt I couldn’t take the job as I had only been in my position for eight months. I had been trying to set-up the distillery. Then, he called me a couple of weeks later and asked again if I wanted the job. He basically said, how do we make this work?

It’s so far away from Australia and they had to match my salary, and all the rest of it. Then he called me back a couple of days later and said the job was mine.

Susan: How long ago was that?

Joe: That’d be three years in a couple months.

Susan: At that time, did people in the UK know Four Pillars Gin?

Joe: No. It was being distributed by Liberty Wines who are a great distributor, but they’re essentially more wine focused. Because we’re based in the Yarra Valley, which is wine country, I think that there were some connections there and some Australian wine had been distributed by them. Cameron and Stu had been working in wine for years and years prior to this. So there was a connection there, but Liberty wines had more wine contacts and wine accounts. The fixed initial sales were a bit slow. So I will say that, no, not a lot of people did know about Four Pillars at the time of me being hired.

However, I knew about them and I knew how well they do in Australia. I knew how good the gin was. And by this point, the Bloody Shiraz was also very prominent and becoming quite the quietly desired juice. I knew there was a big job.  We were changing distributors to Love Drinks that are placed based in Clapham and we were set to launch into the UK market. It was brand education, brand advocacy, brand building. It was everything from tastings, whether it was two people, 200 people. It was conversations, whether it be with an independent liquor store down the road or Selfridges. It was every little conversation you can imagine about introducing a new gin to the market. And I’d believe that we’d got there just in time because of the gin boom. It’s gone well. And we it seems to have a really a cool reputation, I’m not sure how, because I’m the representation and I’m not super cool. I’m a little bit cool.

Susan: You’re a lot cool.

Joe: Oh, thanks very much. We were doing very well. We have trade and we’ve started to build this real sort of familiarity within consumers as well. We need that big retailer on board and we will start to really press on.

Susan: And why do you think you have this cool reputation?

Joe: Do you know what? We have this internal motto, which is that we take our juice seriously, but not ourselves. I like to have fun. I like to work hard and to play hard as well. We’re also very generous. Stu always told me, never go to the meeting empty handed. Never go anywhere in town – if you’re gonna go to a bar or restaurant or hotel and meeting, never go empty handed. Give them something to take away. They not only would take away whatever you’ve talked about, but they’re going to take something else where it’s gonna remind them of that conversation later on.

I don’t feel like we’ve bought people’s affections by leaving gin here, there, and everywhere, but it’s certainly stood us in good stead. We’ve also thrown some great parties, you know, we like to get a little bit wild on occasion, especially when Stu and Cam and Matt come over.

Big personalities! If we throw dinners, you’ll know you’ve been at one of our dinners. We parade around on bars and tabletops, I just feel like there’s quite a number of gin brands that were doing great, but they were probably being a bit too educational.

I think some people forgot in regards to gin that it’s still alcohol. People drink alcohol to let loose,  because they’ve had a good day or because they had a bad day or just because they socialize with friends. The connotation around drinking alcohol is that we are meant to be enjoying yourself or just letting your hair down.

I feel like people were being too educational. They were ramming down how much percentage of juniper you needed in gin. What unicorn tears they’ve developed from a dolphin. I feel like people just forgot to have fun. I believe that we brought it back a little bit.

We always liked to talk about our gins and how we made them, what we do with the botanicals, but we don’t dwell on that. We make drinks with them. And what you are meant to do with the drink is drink it and not sip on it for hours.

Susan: Saying that we are going to dwell on the gin a little bit for right now. Now you did talk about the London Rare, I’m sorry, you did talk about the Rare, not the London Rare Gin.

Joe: You’re right. It’s called Rare Dry Gin, but it is a London Dry style.  We’re based in Australia. Why are we going we going to call it Four Pillars London Dry Gin from Victoria? London Dry comes from here, and it dates back to William of Orange bringing it to London.

We really wanted to focus on the fact that there were some botanicals in the Rare Dry that had never been used in the production of gin before. So that was why we called it Rare, because it was Rare. Now you’ll see a lot of Australian distilleries using those botanicals, but imitation is the biggest form of flattery.

The Rare Dry Gin is still our baby and takes up 60 or 70% of Cam’s time.

Susan: And you’ve garnered lots of awards.

Joe: Yes. Well, we have a plethora of awards. Most recently the International Wine and Spirits Competition, where we won Gin Producer of the Year, which makes us the best gin in the world for 2019. Cam flew in Thursday morning and flew out Saturday morning!

Susan: You also make some other things, as you said, the Bloody Shiraz. Where did that come from?

Joe: I do believe it was a happy accident. Cam McKenzie, founder and distiller, was asked to look after some grapes to keep them in a cool store in our distillery.  I’m pretty certain Cam said to his mate, “Look, if you don’t come and get these grapes soon, I’m just going to play around with them.”

I’m not necessarily sure if these were Shiraz grapes. They may have been Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, because I know that we tried this gin in different ways before we finally found a process. Essentially we just poured high proof 90% gin over these grapes and then put them in a wine press. Squeezed the hell out of it. Cam said that every single day that we were onto a winner. I believe over the next however many months he perfected this recipe and decided on a Shiraz, because, well, not only is it the one of the national grapes in Australia, it’s very particular, Barossa. They’re very well known for their Shiraz. It became our riff on a Sloe Gin. Sloe berries. If they do grow in Australia, there’s not a huge amount to cultivate. Being based in the Yarra Valley, we are surrounded by rolling hills of vineyards.

I remember a story told to me last week. At first, the winery is that we were buying the grapes from, they didn’t want anyone to know where we bought the grapes, not to tell anyone. They didn’t want to be seen to be helping out the gin business.  Now guess what? Now they want their name on the bottle.

This year, we’ll crush 200 tons of Shiraz grapes which now makes us the biggest crusher of Shiraz grapes in the region, which is bizarre because we’re a gin company. We’re actually crushing more grapes than wineries that make Shiraz wine. It’s very popular. It’s very, very popular. And it’s quickly become our number one seller in the UK. It’s not in Australia, but here in the UK where people are going wild for any sort of color of gin and fruit forward gins.

And it really is an outstanding gin and serving with lemon tonic where the lemon is cooked through a natural sweetness and gives it a lift. It’s absolutely delicious. All my close friends absolutely love it.

Susan: Are you playing around with any other things that you can tell us?

Joe: Of course, in our core range, we have had the Bloody Shiraz, the Rare Dry, but we also have the Spiced Negroni gin, which is a gin that was made with a bartender called Jason Williams back in Australia. It was designed for a Negroni to work alongside the Campari.

Obviously Campari is a bitter agent. We wanted a gin that elbowed it out of the way, but also worked harmoniously with it, if you can.  That was using a few more sort of mystical, botanicals, like grains of paradise, which is a West African spice from Ghana, with notes of clove and sichuan. There’s fresh ginger and blood orange in there. We’ve got Cubeb, which is an Indonesian Javan pepper. It’s this big punchy, rough and ready gin –  very clean and crisp.

However, the reason that’s now in our core range is because, not only is it wonderful to mix with,  but we realized when you add tonic to it, it’s a wonderful, spiced gin and tonic. We also have our wonderful Navy Strength, which I think has won more awards than any other Navy Gin in the world.

We do also make a Christmas gin, which is a blended two different gins. For one of the gins, we actually suspend, in the botanical basket, Christmas puddings that are made by Cameron and his daughters. The vapor passes through and it lends all its flavor to the gin. But not only that, we then take those Christmas puddings, package them up and sell them as well.

Susan: I was going to say, Oh my God, that Christmas pudding must be so delicious.

Joe: I’ve only got one at home, so I was going to bring that today, but I really want to try it myself!

Susan: Sounds yummy, but now I want to try some of this Bloody Shiraz Gin.

Joe: Absolutely. Let’s absolutely crack it open!



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