Tim Stones was once a stalwart of the London bar scene, he was regularly spotted in one of London’s top cocktail dens with a group of young and hungry bartenders from around the world. This was down to holding fort as one of the two Beefeater Gin global brand ambassadors, a tough gig but someone’s gotta do it. He learnt from the very best in Desmond Payne, head distiller of Beefeater and all round distilling Godfather, and has now relocated on the other side the world to distill fine spirits in Australia. Which works for me (The Gin Boss) as he is now one of my Martini drinking partners. Here’s what he’s got to say about drinking gin for a living. Take it away Tim.
Nurture. I was a bartender for a while, then became Global BA for Beefeater. This meant I spent a lot of time at the distillery in the company of the legendary Desmond Payne and the distillers and I became progressively more interested in it. I did my GCD there and was lucky enough to land a distilling job when I moved to Australia in 2017.
Playing with new ingredients. Especially here in Australia where the indigenous botanicals can be bat shit crazy. The ingredients here are really fun to work with. That and creating a new recipe. You can start off with one idea and a few trials later, it’s become something different entirely.
When something goes wrong and you lose a batch. It’s heart-breaking to see hard work and alcohol go to waste.
Coffee. Three long blacks in quick succession.
Probably sales, because sales put food on the table. Awards are nice to get, but the nod of approval I got from Desmond when he tasted my first commercial gin was worth more than any gold medal.
Martini. It’s such a simple, elegant drink that really lets the gin shine.
“Are you, like, drunk all day?! LOLZ!”
No. I spend a large chunk of my day playing Tetris with barrels on a forklift. Being drunk in charge of a massive eye-gouger wouldn’t be wise. There’s a bit of drinking during product development, (you’ve got to make sure it works!), but most quality control is done by nosing.
Play “Will It Distil?” Chuck random ingredients in a test still to see if it will work. You might be surprised. You might also ruin your still, but it’s part of the fun.