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 Sarah Miller, the face behind Gin A Ding Ding and lauded as one of the UK’s top gin bloggers. An experienced spirits judge and recent addition to the Gin Magazine team, Sarah also hosts the popular social media challenge #GinADayMay, which aims to both promote the gin industry and unite the gin community. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @gin_a_ding_ding and on Facebook @ginadingdingblog.
Gin Magazine (GM): How did you end up in the gin world and what do you like most about working in it?
Sarah Miller (SM): I think social media is to blame! Back in 2014/15 I had a run of good luck when I won a huge number of gin competitions on Twitter. Having become increasingly interested and engrossed in the world of gin, I created my Gin A Ding Ding Twitter account in early 2016. At the time I was a slightly bored stay-at-home mum, so I also decided to turn my hand to writing. A little-known fact is that my first pieces were about my local half-marathon and an AC/DC gig at the Olympic stadium (published on medium.com)! It was after attending Junipalooza in the summer of 2016 that I decided to launch my blog with events and gin reviews. It was a great time to get involved with the community and, as I got more established and met more people, I began to get offered more wonderful experiences including spirits judging.
I have to say I like everything about working in the gin world; the people, the stories and the spirit! I’ve always enjoyed drinking gin but, like most things, the more I learn the more I truly appreciate it and the people who make it.
GM: What did you do in your pre-gin life?
SM: After studying History of Art at Manchester University, I worked at a number of national art institutions, including the National Gallery and Tate, where I was responsible for organising the insurance, shipment and display of works of art. Since having my two daughters I’ve worked on and off (more off than on lately, luckily given the current situation!) and am now hoping to focus more on freelance spirits judging and writing – although I would also love to bag myself a part-time job at the new V&A East just over the canal from me.
GM: What’s the best piece of career or life advice you’ve been given?
SM: To be honest, the career advice I was offered at school was pretty pitiful but I do often remember my parents’ advice to enter an interview room with my head held high and a smile on my face. I’m not naturally the most confident person, so it’s something I always try to keep in mind when I’m nervous and meeting new people in any given situation.
GM: What moments or occasions have you reaching for a gin?
SM: At the moment homeschooling is definitely top of the list! But really my favourite time to throw together a gin and tonic, or maybe shake up a cocktail, is on a sunny afternoon or just before dinner. Although I do also love a sneaky Negroni before bed!
GM: What would be your ideal holiday destination and activities?
SM: I love travelling independently. I had some wonderful interrailing experiences around Eastern Europe, and also Spain and Morocco, before married life and we still try to take the kids to lesser-known places and travel under our own steam. I also tend to insist on always going somewhere new! My ideal holiday destination is somewhere with interesting landscapes alongside undeveloped coast lines (or lakes) where we can do a bit of exploring, a bit of swimming and a bit of sightseeing. We spent our honeymoon in La Réunion which was idyllic but other family favourites include the Azores, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Croatia (many of which also happen to be good places to go juniper hunting).
GM: If you were a gin or a gin cocktail, what would you be?
SM: I found this a really tricky question so crowd-sourced some opinions; my husband offered “something sour”(!) while a friend was more generous with “classic and bittersweet”. Having lived in the city for almost my entire life, I finally settled on a London Calling; a short and boozy modern classic which gives a good punch, a little bit bitter but with just the right amount of sweetness. It might not be for everyone but, in the right hands, it’s well balanced and downright delicious!