Anne Brock, Master Distiller at Jensen’s Gin is one of only a handful of female gin distillers. I am delighted that she agreed to be interviewed!
How long have you been a distiller?
I have been distilling totally undrinkable and most probably highly toxic liquids for a while in chemistry labs, but I became a gin distiller in January 2013 when I joined the Jensen’s team, so just over three years now.
Did you always want to work in distilling?
No, but when I realised that I could become one it was as if everything fell into place. If you have a science degree there are so many careers you can aim for but none of them appealed to me. Becoming a distiller was casually suggested by a friend and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought of it before.
How did you become a distiller?
Partly serendipity and partly hard work. I studied chemistry for a number of years and when I moved to London after the completion of my PhD. I contacted gin companies who might have distillery work available so that I could get some experience. I didn’t expect to land a job as a distiller straight away but was lucky enough to contact Christian Jensen just as he was starting to put plans in place for a distillery. I came on board to build (and then run) it for him.
What is the best thing about your job?
The people I work with at Jensen’s and being able to go into some of the best bars in the world and have a cocktail made with our gin. What is the most challenging thing about distilling gin? Creating a stable, reproducible and well-balanced recipe. I was lucky to inherit two time-tested recipes which makes my job a lot easier than it could have been.
How do you choose which botanicals to use?
At Jensen’s we make very traditional gins so we use dried botanicals and only those which would have been available to distillers back in time.
Who/what inspires you?
Attending craft distilling expos in the UK and the US and speaking to other distillers are big sources of inspiration. I love hearing what other people are doing and trying new products.
What is your favourite gin cocktail and why?
It generally depends on the time of day, the weather, and where I am. Having a Jensen’s martini in Duke’s is a special treat that I will never tire of and will always say yes to! Otherwise I love it when Hannah, Jensen’s Brand Ambassador, creates a bespoke cocktail in the distillery. I’m always the guinea pig and she always makes beautiful drinks.
Which are your favourite bars? (anywhere in the world)
What’s next? Any future plans?
I have just made the first small (very, very small!) batch of old orange bitters. They are a blend of macerated spirit and distillate and are delicious. At the moment they are being shipped to some lucky bartenders to get their feedback. There is no point making a commercial product that they won’t use, so if we get the thumbs up perhaps we’ll look at making them more widely available – so far it’s looking good!’
You can follow Anne on twitter.