Joanne Moore is the master distiller for G&J Distillers at Quintessential Brands, which was named International Spirits Challenge Gin Producer of the Year in 2020, 2019 and 2018. She’s been distilling for over 20 years, and she knows all about attracting new faces to the industry with her work creating BLOOM Gin – it was designed specifically to appeal to even the most reluctant gin-drinker, and the brand has gone from strength to strength since its inception. We spoke to Joanne about how she started out, what makes her job so special, and what International Women’s Day means to her.
Gin Magazine (GM): Was there anything in particular that drew you to the gin industry?
Joanne Moore (JM): I wouldn’t say it was one thing that made me join the gin industry; rather it was a series of opportunities. I got into distilling straight after finishing my Biochemistry degree, so I was super curious and ready to learn.
I joined G&J Distillers in 1996 in their quality department, and within 18 months I was promoted to the role of quality manager. During this time, I noticed that gin had a bit of a bad reputation as an old person’s drink. I also noticed there was a gap in the market with vodka drinkers wanting a lighter tasting gin. As I started to learn more about the geeky side of the distilling process and the world of botanicals, I was hooked and wanted to make gin for a new generation of drinkers.
GM: Does the gin world feel any different now than when you started out?
JM: Yes, very. It’s incredible how much it’s grown in popularity, not just in the UK, but around the world. Innovation has really played a big role in fuelling this love for gin, from flavoured gins, to small batched.
A few years ago, I was curious to see how flavoured gin and the health and wellbeing trend would impact the industry. Today, the breadth and variety of gins available to consumers is immense. There really is a gin for everyone! For my part, I’m proud of the innovation we have developed within the premium gin brands portfolio at Quintessential Brands – we have been at the forefront of flavour innovation over the last five years, but we have taken a very mindful approach to it, aiming always to complement the intrinsic character of gin with our flavoured variants. Protecting the integrity of gin is really important to me and all of us at Quintessential Brands, but we also recognise that categories need to evolve to stay relevant so that’s always front of mind for us when we innovate.
GM: What’s the thing you’re most proud of in your work?
JM: One of my proudest moments was when I became the seventh Master Distiller back in 2006 of G&J Greenall’s (as it was formally known), in an industry dominated by men. Being given the opportunity to create BLOOM Gin and then to be able go on and create other gins under the Quintessential Brands banner, such as Berkeley Square, Opihr and Thomas Dakin, makes me so incredibly proud.
GM: What do you most enjoy in your work?
JM: A day in a life of a Master Distiller is varied. In any given day, I could be in the lab, nosing gins, to looking at recipes for the next gin innovation. I really enjoy the variety of my role, and it makes me even happier to see a product’s journey from initial creative concept to on the shelf and into people’s glasses.
GM: What does International Women’s Day mean to you as someone working in the gin industry?
JM: When I started working in the gin industry, there weren’t many women, and certainly no female master distillers, so I believe it’s incredibly important that the industry keeps moving forward. I’m incredibly proud to be the first female gin master distiller, and I truly believe in inspiring more women to get into jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics so that women can bloom in all walks of life, both personal and professional.