Meet the Team introduces you to the writers and experts behind Gin Magazine and gin-mag.com, as they talk about their lives both in and outside the gin world. This week, we meet Bernadette Pamplin, founder of underthenginfluence.com. Having started her gin education as a bartender, UK-based Bernadette is now a freelance spirits writer and judge. You can follow Bernadette on Instagram, Facebook (@undertheginfluence) and Twitter (@TheGinfluence).
Gin Magazine (GM): How did you end up in the gin world and what do you like most about working in it?
Bernadette Pamplin (BP): I stumbled into the gin world really, it’s taken me quite by surprise! I began working in a gin bar around six years ago and during training, I was gobsmacked with the evolution of gin and the emerging styles, let alone the fascinating history, and I wanted to learn as much as possible. I had just been accepted on a BA in Creative Writing, so I also wanted to write. So, I married my two passions and set up my blog undertheginfluence.com in April 2015.
At the time I had no idea what it would become, I just really enjoyed it so it grew organically. Now, I get to be a freelance spirits writer and judge and I get to participate in all sorts of fantastic events, treasure hunting for amazing gins. The industry has evolved so much, the science of distillation is amazing, the creativity too; the bar is always being set higher. What I like most about it is the community. There’s the most wonderful array of people to be found in the gin world, warm, eccentric and brilliantly funny. Geeking out over gin with them is one of my favourite things.
GM: What did you do in your pre-gin life?
BP: I’ll be honest, I spent most of my 20s having fun and being relatively irresponsible. I didn’t really understand myself, my mind or what I was meant to do in life, and I was lacking in confidence so didn’t feel like I could do much. I was just going through the motions of working office or bar jobs to pay the bills. I’ve accumulated a lot of experience in administration, logistics and customer service. I did work in a ceramics café for a time painting commissions, but it was hard to get by on the money. It seemed I could only earn a decent wage doing work I didn’t really like. I had a huge wake-up call when I lost my Dad in June 2015. He was a wonderful man and young at 57. That delivered a fair share of ‘life’s too short’, and inspired me to grab opportunities that I previously would have been too scared to. Long and short, I had a lot of fun back then, but I’m much happier now.
GM: What’s the best piece of career or life advice you’ve been given?
BP: My favourite piece of advice is something my Dad told me: “Always do the right thing, then you can hold your head high.” There is so much truth in this. It’s not always easy, and no one’s perfect. But following this advice as much as I can is something I take great pride in.
GM: What moments or occasions have you reaching for a gin?
BP: When I’m writing! I love a tipple when I write, I call it my ‘writer’s lubricant’ as it frees up my flow of thought. I often drink gin neat on the rocks. I much prefer sipping gins neat as it gives me a chance to really get into the nuances of the spirit; I think perhaps this behaviour has evolved the more I’ve judged spirits. When it comes to particular gin drinks, I’m a sucker for a Negroni. It hits a certain spot that other drinks don’t.
GM: What would be your ideal holiday destination and activities?
BP: I would love to go anywhere, really. Other places fascinate me – there is so much to take in, explore and learn. I would love to go to Cambodia. The ancient civilizations are something I’ve always been interested in, and Cambodia’s the top of the list for me. There’s a certain magic to sitting somewhere people were so long ago and trying to put yourself in someone’s shoes, imagining what life was like, all the thoughts, noises, smells, sounds. The human experience is something we all share, yet it’s so varied. I like to learn and understand as much as I can about it.
GM: If you were a gin or a gin cocktail, what would you be?
BP: I had to put this to a group chat as I couldn’t work it out. Someone kindly suggested a gin fizz as I was ‘bright and complex with a bit of class’. I’m a bit too humble to suggest I have any sort of class (and I’m sure it’s debatable!) so I’m very glad someone said it and I could put that forward!
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