Alongside Alice Pearson, Rachel was joint winner of the 2021 IWSC Emerging Talent in Spirits award, sponsored by Whyte & Mackay.
Similarly to Alice, Rachel was also bitten by the distilling bug early on, looking for work experience at her local distilleries in the Scottish Highlands.
A stunning academic career in chemistry led her to undertaking postgraduate studies in sensory development and becoming the lead researcher for Warner’s Distillery as their flavour and sensory development specialist – helping to understand the connections between botanicals both pre- and post-distilling.
This vital role has seen her develop several new products for the Warner’s range across different categories, as well as becoming an ambassador for young scientists. Her natural enthusiasm and talent have led her to a strong training role. Much of her research is adding new angles to the world of distilled spirits as well as non-alcoholic drinks.
Rachel, congratulations again on your 2021 award. We recognise it’s been a very unusual year, but have you managed to organise any travel with your Emerging Talent bursary?
The year has flown by! I managed to attend a few small events throughout the year but I'm hoping 2022 will allow for a lot more of this! There's plenty of things happening that I'd love to get out and see.
One of the notable areas of your impressive career our judges highlighted was your ambassadorial role for young scientists. Have you been able to offer any support or mentorship over the past year to anyone who is looking to follow in your footsteps?
Working with the University of Nottingham, I often find myself giving advice and guidance to those looking to work in this industry. I've also presented at a few events this year, including the Craft Distilling Expo, which led to a few people reaching out. I'm always more than happy to offer support or guidance to other young scientists because I know how helpful insight can be to those starting out in their careers.
The flavour development from Warner’s Distillery continues apace, what new products have you developed over the past year that you are able to tell us about?
A lot of the past year has seen us optimise current recipes to ensure the best quality products for our consumers. I've also spent a lot of time working with our own farm-grown botanicals and seeing how we can incorporate these into recipes. Throughout 2021, we launched our Trash & Treasure Spiced Botanical Rum as well as a new and improved London Dry gin. The end of 2021 saw the launch of our annual Christmas Cake gin.
Finally, can you share any advice for anyone thinking of entering the award for 2022?
I would definitely say go for it! There's no harm in applying and the benefits that come from it are great.
The IWSC’s Emerging Talent awards are open for entries until 18 February.
Emerging Talent in Spirits and Emerging Talent in Spirits Communication awards are sponsored by Whyte & Mackay.