The interview with Angus Winchester, hic et sempliciter, just a chat about Gin with a key player of the contemporary history of this distillate.
Mentioned as a “pioneer” in Gaz Regan‘s book “The Bartender’s Gin Compendium”, published in 2009, ie at the end of the first part of this new chapter of the Modern Gin history, Angus Winchester was the first Global Ambassador for Tanqueray Gin from 2008 until 2014, one of those who has elevated the role of this figure and one has led it to the highest levels, being able to impersonate the product that he was sponsoring around the world: this for one simple reason, Angus Winchester loves Tanqueray London Dry Gin.
Over the years, and before starting Gin Italy, Mr. Angus Winchester was a useful source for informations, especially with regard to the vintage Tanqueray merchandising which is part of my collection; following his career and his activities I got to know and learn about this distillate that I loved so much. Definitely a personal inspiration, I had the pleasure to interview him in Berlin at the Bar Convent, for a chat about the behind-the-scenes of the world of Gin.
- Angus, in those years, could you imagine that Gin would become what it has become? There was this perception around you? Did you see all this potential?
Well, when Tanqueray began to search for someone for the role of Global Ambassador, I was already a working with Diageo, and I immediately self proposed myself for that job. I believed in the potential, we were already noticing a resurgence of cocktails made with gin, barmen around the world started to have a growing interest for this distillate, but honestly, no, it was amazing to experience this impetuous growth. I think that currently there are some “distortions”, let’s call them this way, who are using the trend that has exploded: as far as I’m concerned, Juniper must always be predominant, otherwise the Gin becomes a different tool, it does not allow me to make the cocktail I have in mind.
- It is imperative at this point to ask you an opinion about the actual situation of Gin.
I’m not a big fan of innovation, I must admit. As I said before, the unpredictable variant has been the explosion of international interest towards Gin, today there is no place where you can’t find a Gin distillery, this research for the “terroir”, this extreme geolocation of Gins, is misleading, these concepts do not fit into my idea of Gin. There are dozens of cocktails made with Gin that are unknown to the public, that can be prepared according to the original recipes and re-presented, there would also be a great response from the audience. Simplicity wins, in my opinion.
- What do you think of the latest “limited” editions launched by Tanqueray?
The idea is interesting. The first edition was a success, because it was going to bring out a historic recipe,offering a new Gin, an Old Tom, one from a not-so popular category. Thereby offering the opportunity to everyone to be able to better understand the original cocktails, which is fundamental. The Malacca and Bloomsbury are great Gins, but perhaps the timing was too hasty, but it’s a changing world, there are ways to explore more.
- How do you prepare your Gin & Tonic?
My favorite proportion is 1 part Gin and 4 parts tonic, like a light drink with a simple guarnish, a lemon twist, to be replaced sometimes with a slice of lime. I do not like complex guarnishes, which make it difficult to drink the Gin and Tonic, it is already perfect, it doesn’t need to be improved.
- What’s your favorite cocktail made with Gin?
Impossible to say, I love so many, from the great classics such as the White Lady, but also new preparations that have become popular for their goodness, like the Gin Basil Smash, then the Negroni, made on the rocks, in my opinion, as in Florence in 1919 and then all the Martinis. I love the Martini, you can drink a different Martini cocktail every day of the year, you will never stove, if made properly.
The conversation was friendly, the style of Angus Winchester, is impeccable, so his courtesy and education: evident in each of his creations or activities. Next year, in New York he is going to open his Bar: the decisive step in the career of every bartender. The location is studied, as well as the position, the cocktails list is classic and rigorous, and it seems there will be some new features designed to make this a truly innovative bar, always aiming for the highest possible quality. We will surely hear about it!