A day in the life of master gin distiller Natalie Wallis-Palmer

A day in the life of master gin distiller Natalie Wallis-Palmer

“I grew up almost marinated in gin,” says Natalie Wallis-Palmer, master distiller at Langley Distillery (langleydistillery.co.uk) in the Midlands. “I am the sixth generation in a family of distillers, so it was only natural that this would be my chosen career path too.”

Langley distillery was founded by her great-great-great grandfather, William Palmer, more than 200 years ago, and 2020 is their 100th year of producing gin.

“I started in the business when I was 19, originally covering a maternity leave role, but I have never left!” says Wallis-Palmer. This is what a day in her life looks like…

(Thomas Alexander/PA)
(Thomas Alexander/PA)

First thing…

“My morning routine starts with a cup of hot water and lemon, to cleanse the palate, and a flick through social media and online newspapers to catch up on news and new releases within the industry.

“After checking in on the cats and bees, I drive to work and on arrival, often find myself tasting any samples that have been sent to me before breakfast!”

Onto the business of the day, namely botanicals…

(Langley Distillery/PA)
(Langley Distillery/PA)

“I split my time between our head office in Hertfordshire and our distillery in the Midlands. I love my days at the distillery as I get completely submerged in all the delicious botanicals that we use in the distillation process.

“Once you come through the gateway, you disappear into a real olde worlde distillery surrounded by hessian sacks of botanicals, which smell delicious. My father, Adam is a botanical guru and has travelled the world seeking them out.

“We have five copper stills, all of them named after the strong women in my family’s past. Some of the stills date back to the 1800s. Our oldest still, Mackay, is from 1860 and our biggest still, Jenny, is capable of producing over 250,000 bottles in one distillation.

“Most days I will have a meeting with a client, or with a potential client wanting to make their own gin. We make about 75% of the artisanal gins in the UK, so spend a lot of time developing recipes based upon customers requirements. This could be anything from a traditional London Dry recipe to a new superfood or some foraged fruit. Once we even got asked to try a chocolate gin – sadly, that one didn’t work out.”

One of the highlights…

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#288 Old English Gin by Hammer & Son Ltd 🇬🇧 70cl 44% vol ••••• This is as English as Gin can be. The oldest workin distillery making traditionell 1783 recipe old pot still Gin. Bottled in the shampagne bottle and sealed with a wax. ••••• This gin is made from a 1783 recipe. At the time, England was the biggest importer of Champagne and consumers would buy Champagne bottles full of gin in specialised gin stores. The quality and flavour of the gin depended on the supplier and on whether it was stored in bottles or barrels. The gin stored in barrels had wood notes and characteristic aromas developed over its time in the barrel. Today it is distilled at the Langley Distillery in England in a copper pot-still with 11 botanicals including juniper, coriander, lemon and orange peels, licorice and cinnamon. Post-distillation, a small amount of sugar is added to create a "Old Tom" style gin. It is sold in cleaned, former Champagne bottles and is sealed with wax. ••••• www.oldenglishgin.com ••••• #oldenglishgin #hammerandson #distillery #oldest #english #gin #uk #gingin #woods #forest #autumn #ginlovers #ginday #ginbottle #ginclub #ginroom #gincollection #mygin #gintower #ginandtonic #gintonic #langleydistillery

A post shared by Mika Kosola (@ginloverfinland) on

“It’s really rewarding to help people turn their gin dreams into reality, especially when it’s something that started off as a few notes on a piece of scrunched up paper, which grows into a national, or even global, award winning spirit brand.

“Even over the last 20 years, the team have created more than 300 gin recipes for customers around the world.”

Time for some admin…

(Thomas Alexander/PA)
(Thomas Alexander/PA)

“After a catch up with the distilling team, I will check up on botanical orders. We source these from all around the world, juniper from Macedonia, orange and lemon peel from Spain, star anise and ginger from Asia. As we make such a range of gins, we can access the very best botanicals in the world.”

It’s a gin thing…

(Thomas Alexander/PA)
(Thomas Alexander/PA)

“I was responsible for launching our first own name gin brand in 2017 – Palmers London Dry Gin. We produced it in memory of my late granny, Angela Palmer, who was an incredible role model for me. She loved gin, so as a nod to her, we released Palmers into the global market after more than 90 years of solely making gin for others.

“It was a real privilege to create a brand for our 200 year old company, and to take it into the next chapter of its story. I often pop into our stockists such as Selfridges or Master of Malt to catch up on sales. It’s like watching over your children!

“About once a week, I will host a gin tasting for consumers. I always make sure to include our Palmers London Dry (£28, 70cl, Master of Malt), as it’s a gin that is very close to my heart and I love hearing what people think of it.”

When it’s time to relax…

“I’m normally finished work by 7pm and unless I have an evening tasting event, I tend to head home for a bit of relaxation time. My husband is a great cook, so if I’m lucky he will have whipped up dinner for me!

“If I can have a bubble bath, with a G&T, then an hour or so watching some of my favourite box sets, that is pretty much my perfect evening.”

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