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Ginterview: Jamie Baxter

Master Distiller, 45 West Distillers - Burleigh's Gin

· Jamie Baxer,Master Distiller,Burleighs Gin

I often say choosing a favourite gin is like choosing between my children (which is why I don't have any) - What's your desert island gin & why?

It's got to be Burleighs, but I like gins with lots of citrus flavours. Actually, I like gin.

I have many different favourite bars depending on the occasion. What's your favourite for:

A. A Dry Martini & Date Night?

B. A Red Snapper & Brunch?

C. Gin & a party?

A: Can't beat Dukes for a Martini although Merchants House runs them close.

Merchant House London

B: Brunch and Red Snapper is at my house. Also can't be beat.

C JJ's bars are always good fun, but I'm too old to party nowadays. That said, if there's gin involved I'm up for it.

Which drinks professionals have inspired you & how?

When I was working out how on Earth to build the Chase Distillery, I went to visit Todd Leopold. At that time he was distilling in Ann Arbor in Michigan. Since then he has moved to Denver, Colorado. Everything he does is genius and he inspired me so much that I can't begin to say how much. Last month I went to visit the Chichibu Distillery near Tokyo. I was completely blown away. My new hero is Ichiro Akuto. Those two are my distilling heroes. Please, please check them out.

Burleighs London Dry Gin

PINK Edition was distilled with preserved Japanese cherry blossom, hibiscus, rose and pink grapefruit, after Jamie was inspired by his visit to Tokyo.

Do you have a favourite Gin Botanical? (Yes. Really.)

Duh! Juniper of course. However, dandelion and burdock are good fun.

If you were a gin or a gin cocktail which would you be and why?

I am Burleighs. Burleighs is me. It's my heart and soul. I am spread eagled naked before you.

Angus Winchester says olives are the devil's testicles. Thoughts?

If olives could talk they might well say the same about Angus. Actually this is one of the few occasions that I disagree with him. I love them as a garnish, as a snack or as a missile.

Which gin has your favourite packaging? How important is this?

As a distiller it pains me to say this, but packaging is important. It is the reason that people will pick it off the shelf for the first time The quality of what is inside will make them buy again and again.

Do you have a preferred tonic?

Anything that is not too strongly flavoured. I want to taste the gin.

What's your favourite food to pair with gin?

Oysters, oysters and more oysters.

How did you get into the Gin industry?

By luck. Just blag your way in!

What do you love most about your job?

45 Gin School

I'm distilling gin, teaching people about gin through 45 Gin School, building five or six gin distilleries this year and drinking fantastic gin cocktails in our bar in Leicester. I really can't answer which bit I enjoy most.

And the worst bits?

Bereaucracy.

If you could share a martini with anyone who would it be?

My wife. She doesn't like gin and I'd love to convert her.

Do you have any recommended reads for gin lovers?

Louis de Bernieres trilogy starting with the War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts. Nothing to do with gin, but very very funny.

What are your Gin goals?

Keep improving.

What advice do you have for aspiring Gin professionals?

Talk to somebody who has done it before and then do you own thing.

What's your pet Gin industry hate?

People who talk the talk but haven't done it. Twats!

If you aren't drinking Gin what is your tipple?

Rum, whisky, absinthe, beer, cider, wine, sherry, coffee, amaro, vermouth, pastis, liqueur, schnapps, Poire Williams, akvavit. Spirit drinks, weird stuff.

What's going to be the next big gin trend?

Localism and tiny, tiny micro distilleries selling direct to consumers at farmers markets etc missing out the distributors and selling direct to the consumer in bottles or G&Ts. It can be lucrative if you get it right. No one will have heard of you, but who cares!

Any other pearls of wisdom or Gin rants?

Plenty, but come and talk to me in my bar so that I can really vent my spleen.

Where can I send readers to find you online?

Get tickets to The Gin Whore Tour - enjoy tasting 4 gins & plenty of giggles at a venue near you!

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