Interview Issue 20 Joe Bates Travel Retail

This Travelling Life: Charlie Hendon, Burleighs

Charlie Hendon, head distiller at Burleighs Gin

Sun seeking and the importance of travel snacks with Burleighs Gin’s head distiller

By Joe Bates

Charlie Hendon, Burleighs Gin’s heavy metal-loving head distiller, enjoys nothing more than packing up her car and heading down to Cornwall for a summer music festival. A self-confessed sun lover, Charlie’s idea of heaven is to soak up the rays on a Greek island.

What have been some of the most memorable and interesting countries and places that your work has taken you?

Burleighs is a small craft distillery in the heart of Leicestershire, so we do several events within the county such as Burleighs Picnic in the Gardens and the Great Burleighs Express, but being head distiller, I do have to spend the majority of my time at the distillery. Whilst many of our gins have Leicestershire roots, our pink edition takes inspiration from Japan, as it uses Japanese cherry blossom. I did have an opportunity to spend a week in Switzerland, working on a film project for the Swiss tourism board. There were plans to travel the country and give a presentation on British craft distilling. Unfortunately, the project was cancelled due to Covid-19, but it’s something I’d love to get involved in now more travelling is permitted.

What spirits, other than gin, do you like to buy in duty free when travelling?

If I’m heading to duty free, I usually head straight for the perfume department! But when I do purchase a spirit, it’ll be because it’s caught my eye due to its packaging or unusual ingredient or taste – it needs to be something I’ve not tried before.

Do you spend a lot of time on the road? If so, what travel tips do you want to pass on to our readers?

I do travel a lot by car in this country. My fiancé and I travel down to Cornwall at least once a year, which is a six-hour trip, so a good, upbeat playlist is key. We are really into music, particularly classic and new rock and metal, we are regular visitors to Download Festival and other events, so our car journeys are usually loud! Food and drink are also essential on long trips, so I’d suggest stocking up on snacks and on-the-go drinks.

If your flight was delayed, who would you most like to share a G&T with in an airport bar? 

It would be someone I admire in the music industry. Perhaps Stevie Nicks, Dave Grohl, Pink or Ozzy Osborne – listening to their amazing stories would pass the time!

If you had 24 hours to spare, what city in the world would you most like to explore?

I’m not much of a city dweller – I definitely enjoy things at a much slower pace. Although I love the sunshine, it’s on my bucket list to visit Iceland to see the Northern Lights; I’d love to stay in a glass igloo pod overnight to stargaze and hopefully catch the lights.

We have a long 12-hour flight ahead. What book would you recommend we read to while away the time?

It has to be The Storyteller by Dave Grohl. It’s a must for Foo Fighters fans.

Now we are back travelling again, where can travellers find Burleighs Gin, and what’s your favourite way of enjoying it?

We export to many different countries around the world, including Spain, Thailand and Japan. In fact, we have just sent our first order to Bermuda. My favourite way to enjoy Burleighs Gin is with plenty of ice, a slice of orange or grapefruit, and Indian tonic water.

Brand loyalty aside, what are some of your favourite gins and gin cocktails?

One of my favourite British gins is Tarquin’s. I like the way it experiments with flavours. My best friend, sister and I recently visited its distillery, and it was so interesting to see how it runs and compare similarities and differences to the set-up at Burleighs.

Tell us about a funny, strange or unusual thing that happened to you on your travels.

I spent a few months in Australia in my early 20s, travelling up the Gold Coast. The experience was amazing but equally scary – it’s a big change when you don’t have a plan and make decisions spontaneously. We found little odd jobs to get a bit more money, staying in some very “interesting” hostels, getting used to the wildlife and weather. One of our jobs was leafletting in the Australian heat, which is an experience! At one point, we found a dog running loose, so my friend whipped off her belt to use as a lead and we tried to find its owner. In the end, the dog was reunited with its owner, but we didn’t meet our quota of leaflets that day! 

Now international travel is getting back to something like normal, what destination will be top of your list to return to?

I am a sun seeker, so anywhere with guaranteed sunshine and hot weather is perfect! I love the Greek islands – finding secluded beaches to relax on by day, and eating fresh seafood and drinking something delicious in a Greek tavern by night. Ideal!  

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