MEET THE PRODUCER: IAN PUDDICK OF OLD BAKERY GIN
Hands up if you’d gladly accept a G&T at the end of a day at work? Me too. Not so Ian Puddick. Although he’s the brains and drive behind Old Bakery Gin, his decompression drink of choice is a cup of tea, “milk, no sugar.” Sounds simple, but read on, because the story of his gin distillery is a mix of complicatedness and simplicity with a fair few surprises thrown in.
If Ian hadn’t been sued over a chimney, it’s far from certain that his distillery would even exist. The problem started when he acquired new office premises, which were formerly a bakery. We don’t have space for the details here, but in the course of researching his legal defence he discovered that the bakers used to illegally make and sell gin behind their bloomers. Who’d have thought?
Ian’s up for a challenge and decided that, alongside his leak detection business, he’d make gin too. Unable to trace the original illicit gin recipe, he did find written proof of its four ingredients. Knowing that a London dry gin has to be predominantly juniper, he experimented with the other botanicals and very quickly produced his now acclaimed gin. It was relatively straightforward because as he says:
“it’s a simple gin. If you’re making something illegally, you want to keep it simple.”
Interestingly its simplicity is proving to be a virtue. In these days when so many gin distillers boast of ever increasing numbers of botanicals, the clarity of Ian’s gin appeals.
The negotiation of distilling paperwork and licences turned out to be far more challenging. Which is why he has huge regard for Sipsmith,
“Because they were the first to re-establish a gin distillery in London. I’ve been through a tiny bit of bureaucracy, which for me was a whole world of pain. I dread to think what they went through.”
He’s generous to fellow gin makers but advises that not all ‘craft distilleries’ make their own gin. His tip: always check the website to see if they have their own stills. The Old Bakery Gin stills are small but gleamingly beautiful. Although milled by a coppersmith, in his refreshingly straightforward style, tea-loving Ian insists,
“the stills are glorified tea urns. I kid you not.”
One thing that does drive him to drink is the way so many people add lemon or lime to a G&T:
“you put a slice in and it’s not doing anything. It’s just looking pretty. You’ve got to squeeze it to get something out of it - and people don’t.”
His serve of choice is with one leaf of basil (placed, not muddled) and a slice of pink grapefruit, which should be given “a gentle pinch.” So, remember, ‘pink and a pinch’. It’s uncomplicated and delicious.
Stay tuned for details of Ian’s drinks hero tomorrow …
The Old Bakery Gin will be trading at the Enfield Food Festival on 26/27 August at Forty Hall Farm, come and enjoy a pink and a pinch!