Meet the maker: Charlie Fletcher, Blendworks Tutor

Blendworks by Eden Mill, St Andrews

Charlie Fletcher

Q: Where do you work?

A: I work in the Blendworks workshop, which is in an annexe of the Rusacks Hotel in St. Andrews. The workshop itself is a veritable playground for the palate. We have a vast library of individual distillates and ingredients at our disposal. It’s using this collection of pre-distilled ingredients that I help customers create their own gin.

Q: How long have you worked with Eden Mill and how did you start?

A: I only started working with Eden Mill in December 2017. Previous to joining the team here, I worked with another craft gin brand ensuring the drinks kept flowing at various events. Last April I was lucky enough to find myself in a position to open a pop-up gin bar on Friday and Saturday nights in Falkirk; having now passed on the reins I’m happy to report the place is doing better than I could have ever imagined. Crucially, this gave me a platform to start hosting gin events and tastings – experience that has proved vital with what I now do at Blendworks.

Q: Describe the process at Blendworks?

A: A typical Blendworks session lasts for around two and a half hours. In this time, guests learn the hows, whats and wheres of gin and its history before moving on to creating their own recipe. As I mentioned earlier, we have a wide range of single distillates that are blended to each individual’s taste. My role is to ensure that every guest is happy with their gin by carefully balancing ingredients to result in the flavour profile they are looking for.

Q: What’s a typical working day like?

A: I’m really not a fan of the cliché ‘I don’t have a typical working day’, but it really is true in this case. Obviously hosting the ‘make your own gin’ experience is the crux of what I do, but with such a diverse mix of people coming through the door, no session is the same. I often find myself at the distillery lending a hand with the distillation of some of our Blendworks-specific spirits.

Q: Describe the spirits.

A: Given the nature of Blendworks, the flavours we have are as varied as you could imagine. My current favourite ingredients are coffee and kaffir lime leaf. The coffee has a rich, earthy sweetness with the familiar aroma you would expect; and kaffir lime leaf is a great ingredient – it carries citrus notes along with a strong oriental aroma.

Q: What would you say sets your brand apart?

A: Eden Mill was the first single-site brewery and distillery in Scotland. This leads to a crossover between our brewing and distilling which translates into our products. Our Hop Gin, for example, is dry hopped with Australian Galaxy hops – a synergy of brewing and distilling.

Q: What one fact should bartenders know about Eden Mill?

A: I think the crux of Eden Mill is the diversity in the range. If bartenders simply associate Eden Mill with Love Gin – or our gins in general – they should be aware of some of the more unique products we offer.

Q: What’s your favourite part of the job?

A: I would have to say that helping customers train their palate and create a gin that is tailored to their taste gives me a great sense of achievement. A close second would be the view! Overlooking the 18th hole of the Old Course isn’t something that gets tiring.

Q: What’s your favourite way to drink your brand?

A: An Oak Gin Negroni.

Q: What’s your career highlight so far?

A: This probably came in the very infancy of my career when I was still working in nightclubs. I was working the bar for the filming of the nightclub scene in Trainspotting 2. It was a bit surreal to see my workplace turned into a film set!

Q: Who do you admire in the industry and why?

A: A difficult question to answer in such a friendly industry! There are so many people with a great deal of passion which I admire. As a serial learner, I admire people who are willing to share their knowledge and experience. On that note, in the relatively short time I’ve been at Eden Mill, I have learned so much from my colleagues at Blendworks. Between Jasper and Sasha I don’t think there’s a question that could go unanswered (except sports).

Q: How do you relax outside of work?

A: As it’s been over a year since I graduated I’ve started to miss learning. I’m doing my best to educate myself on beers and spirits that I’m less familiar with.

Q: If you could invite anyone for a drink who would you ask, where would you go and what would you drink?

A: After much deliberation I think I would ask Bruce Springsteen for a pint at some local bar in New Jersey. I idolise the Boss and his music – it would be an honour!