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Viki Being a Bosslady

Hi I’m Viki Baird and I am the Bosslady of Stillgarden Distillery. Let me tell you how I got here!

Viki Being a Bosslady

My career has certainly been varied to say the least. Being a Bosslady is not easy. After college I went straight into retail management, this taught me how to motivate the people and to encourage them to their strengths.

After spending eight wonderful years in retail I decided a change was needed. I wanted an adventure so I packed my bags, crossed the pond and landed in Dublin. Why Dublin? Well I had always spent a good bit of time travelling back and forth visiting friends and there was always that charm that drew me in. It always felt like home. 

When I look back I can certainly see I kept my options open  I knew management was for me but I was interested in lots of avenues. I started off in a historical research company, then worked on the newsdesk of The Irish Times, after that I took on the role as General Manager of an energy company. This role certainly lent itself to my more adventurous side as it required lots of international travel, which maybe in hindsight gave me courage to take on more thrilling challenges later on in my life (and maybe a little bit of encouragement from my now husband Pat).  

Soon thereafter I started running a clinic with a large team. Together with my experience in different industries donning multiple roles I knew I was ready. Just as you think you know where your life is going, there is always something around the corner that can just change it, for me that was Pat.

In 2011, I met Pat O’Brien (who is co-founder of Stillgarden Distillery). He was a keen outdoor adventurer. At first, I was completely flabbergasted by larger than life appetite for adventure. Soon I went from high heels to high hills, he pushed me to face my fears. He even managed to get me rock climbing.

For many years we had discussed the idea of doing something completely unique to a distillery space. So after our honeymoon in 2019 we knew that was the right time to take the leap.

With my new found adventurous spirit and Pats determination we started the Stillgarden project in August of last year. However throughout the year we weren’t short of obstacles, even having to learn to adapt through a pandemic. We still managed to launch our first product, the Distillers Edition Gin in April. Then finally opened the doors with much delight in July.

We’re both amazed by what we have achieved to date. We’ve been very fortunate to have built a great team to bring the project to fruition. The future looks bright and we are really looking forward to it. It will be hard work, we know that but we feel we have really created something fun and special linking Science, Community and Nature.

Viki Baird x

Distillers edition dry gin
The Distillers Edition is the very first release from Stillgarden Distillery, and I am quite proud of that. This delightfully dry gin is distinct and unique, full of juniper yet progressive from the traditional.

Distillers edition dry gin

The gin has been in development in some way or another since late 2019. I have made somewhere between 35 and 40 iterations of it, and only a couple of iterations can be done in a day as your taste buds will get stunned fairly quickly from the high ABV. The general direction was to incorporate things we can grow or forage, but I also wanted a big whack of Juniper off it as well. I have rarely been accused of subtlety in my concoctions and this one is no different.

This gin is at 46% ABV, and it needs to be at that to keep the various oils dissolved and the gin clear. The oiliest components of a gin are the Juniper and the citrus, you’ve probably seen a bartender ‘flame’ an orange peel once or twice, which is (mostly) Limonene oil bursting into flames. In this case the essential oil budget is taken up in almost its entirety with Juniper, Lemon and Lime.Rowan Berries

Next up are the berries, in this case the Rosehips and Rowan, which are coincidentally both mildly dangerous to humans in their natural state. Rosehips, to me, taste like a mix between Rose petals and Rhubarb. You can make a jam from them but people rarely do as the seeds have tiny sharp hairs which will irritate the crap out of your throat or any other part of your body. Good thing we’re distilling them and leaving the seeds behind!

Rowan berries’ issue is that they have a very unpleasant acidity to them, but also a fantastic berry aroma. Luckily the undesirable Sorbic Acid in the berries boils at 228 °C, so the distilling process again saves the day!

The heat components of the gin are from Black Pepper and Cubeb peppercorns. The Black Pepper (the Phu Quoc variety), is hot and woody. It is quite similar to what you might have at home but far, far more aromatic. The aroma makes supermarket Black pepper seem like cardboard in comparison. The Cubebs, also a member of the Pepper family, don’t have anywhere near the same level of heat, instead they bring notes of Allspice and a little smokiness to the gin.

Eanna Burke