Inspirational Woman: Charlie Hendon | Head Distiller, Burleighs Gin

Charlie HendonCharlie Hendon is head distiller at Burleighs Gin in Leicestershire and has been in the gin industry for over four years.

As part of her role, Charlie creates and distils all of Burleighs’ range which currently includes seven different varieties. As well as hand bottling and preparing for dispatch to customers across the UK, Charlie also develops new recipes and ideas for upcoming products and collaborations, and manages the Burleighs Gin distillery.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Hi! My name is Charlie, and I am the head distiller at Burleighs Gin in Leicestershire. I am originally from the West Midlands but now live in South Derbyshire and have been working at Burleighs for four and a half years. My entire working career has always involved working in the drinks industry, whether working part time in pubs for a bit of extra money while at university, to being manager of a pub in Derby city centre, to where I am now, making my own gin.

My main role at Burleighs is to ensure that we always have stock to sell; if we have a product that we are running out of then I need to distil more of that gin and get it bottled. Everything at Burleighs is done by hand, so it can be quite a physical job but I love everything about it, especially when I get to develop new recipes. This involves looking at new botanicals and different flavours to create something new and exciting – something that is going to make us standout against the many other gins on the market.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not at all! I never knew growing up what I wanted to do and have had many different careers to get me to where I am today. I am a fully qualified hairdresser, I have a degree in special educational needs and now I make gin. My working career has definitely been varied but I have always taken the path of doing something I enjoy. I love the job I do now, I get to be creative whilst working with some amazing people – everyone at Burleighs is passionate about the brand and it really is an enjoyable place to work.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

If I ever have faced a challenge, then I always deal with it head on. I never feel like I can’t do anything, which I suppose is a good trait to have. There are times when a goal is taking longer to achieve than I had hoped for, this is usually where I start to lose enthusiasm and heart, but I always take a step back, evaluate and go for it again.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My proudest achievement so far is developing the recipe for our latest edition, National Forest. This gin brings flavours of blackberries, cherries and elderflower to give a fresh and fruity taste. The gin has just been awarded five stars by Difford’s Guide and we are also hoping it’s going to do well at the IWSC awards in the spring – fingers crossed!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Having the support of family and friends is always a massive factor in achieving success. My family are so supportive of what I do, they love that I am one of very few female distillers in Great Britain and help to promote the Burleighs brand as much as possible.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

To get to where I am at Burleighs, I was the previous distiller’s mentee – I was a novice when I started at Burleighs and learnt all I know now by training here at the distillery. I would like to go on to get a distilling qualification, something I am hoping to achieve next year. I do have an assistant in the distillery, who is currently under my guidance, learning all there is to know about distilling. I hope I can pass on all the knowledge I have and that he continues to love the job as much as I do!

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I think the main point would be to try and encourage more women to be more confident in their passions – if you want to achieve a goal then you should just go for it, what is there to lose? By building confidence in women, by promoting what women can do and what struggles we have overcome to get to where we are today, this will help to empower more women. Times have definitely changed for the better and women are now getting more praise for what they do – the ideal isn’t quite there yet but it does give promise for the future.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

My younger self was really carefree and didn’t really take anything too seriously – I have always only ever chosen things like career paths, if I know I’m going to enjoy them, which is great, but several times in the past I have decided to do something without really thinking it through thoroughly, which can leave you in a sticky situation. For example, 10 years ago I decided to go travelling with a friend in Australia for six months – we had so much fun but it wasn’t all supposed to be fun, we needed to find jobs out there in order to make a bit more money, which was definitely harder than we both ever expected. We saw some and had some amazing adventures, but it was the hardest thing I have ever done! So I would definitely tell my younger self to take time, step back and evaluate the situation, to have a bigger think about whether it is the correct path to go down.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My challenge is always going to be to create amazing tasting gins using ingredients that hopefully no one has used before. This aim is getting harder and harder as more and more distilleries open, offering fresh and new tasting gins, but it is always going to be something I strive to achieve. We are hoping to launch three new products this year, all with a different concept and flavour, so fingers crossed everyone enjoys the taste as much as us!

Related Posts