Friday, 22 May 2015

Business of Booze: Creating Burleighs Gin

In this week’s Business of Booze we talk to Jamie Baxter, creator of Burleighs Gin – a London Dry Gin that was launched last year and is infused with 11 of the world’s finest botanicals including silver birch, dandelion, burdock, elderberry and iris.

What was the catalyst for creating your own gin? Was it a case of a gap in the market, or you wanting something that wasn't available, or a general desire to distill your own spirit?

It was a bit of all of those really. Firstly I had a chance to build a new distillery together with my partners. We are all equal shareholders and this appealed. Secondly, I was given free range to create the gin that I wanted and we launched Burleighs Gin in July last year.

In terms of the inspiration, I tend to prefer a traditional style of London Dry Gin, although that's not to say that I don't love some of the more unusual products that there are out there too. I just wanted to make a gin with a flavour profile tailored to the drinks that I like.

How long until you got a batch you were 100% pleased with?

It took a good week, but an awful lot of thinking beforehand.

How about the branding - how long did that take? What were your influences?

I left the branding to my partners. My only input to the design was that it had to say "Gin" in big letters as my eyesight is awful. That said, we all had to agree the final design and it is something of which we are very proud. 

It took a long time, but there is a long lead time on stills at the moment and so we were able to try lots of different ideas. I'm lucky to be working with some creative people.

Who do you admire in the spirit world?

There are too many to mention them all. In the distilling world, it probably won't surprise you that I favour a lot of craft distillers, but there are plenty of big brands that I admire too. Nobody can tell me that Tom Nichol, Desmond Payne or Joanne Moore are not craftsmen. I've been lucky enough to meet many of my drinks heroes and without exception they have been free with advice and help. 

In America I admire greatly what Chris Dowe (Cold River), Paul Hletko (Few), Todd Leopold (Leopold Brothers), Lance Winters (St George's), Davorin Kuchan (Old World), Allen Katz (New York Distilling) and Ted Breaux (Jade) are doing. 

Here in the UK I won't single out any names as many of them are friends of mine and big headed enough already, but I genuinely admire anyone who has the gumption to get up and make their dream a reality by building their own distillery and making their own product. This is also true outside the drinks world. I spent the first part of my working life in the food industry, particularly breakfast cereals.

My two favourite evenings so far in 2015 have both been in Edinburgh though, at Bramble and The Bon Vivant. London, you better pull your socks up.

What's the best piece of advice you were given?

Listen politely and then do your own thing.

What advice would you give to people setting up their own business in the spirits world?

Learn about it. Think about it hard. Then trust your instincts.

What's been your favourite part of the journey so far?

There have been two. Firstly discovering what a great ingredient burdock root is, and secondly, walking into a cocktail bar in London and realising that a whole shelf on the back bar contained only products that I have developed or been involved with. I tried to drink my way along that shelf, but there were simply too many!

What are your plans for 2015/16?

We launched Burleighs Gin last year. This year is all about growth. We are also building a few more distilleries for other people this year. It's just great fun!

We'll drink to that!

This was a guest post by Becky from Social and Cocktail.

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