If you are as obsessed with eating and drinking as we are, you’ll have noticed that we’re right in the middle of the ‘Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight’. During this more than two-week event (1st Sept – 16th Sept) we celebrate all that is great about Scottish food and drink. This year, the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight is centred around the future of the industry, focussing on innovation and ambition.
It’s the perfect time to look to the future, as 2018 is also Scotland’s ‘The Year of Young People’. The passion and creativity of Scotland’s young people is what makes the future of our industry so promising. In recognition of this, Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight organisers ‘Eat Scottish’ have been searching out amazing young ambassadors in the Scottish food and drink industry.
We share this admiration for Scotland’s young people and are proud to say that one of the Eat Scottish ambassadors is our very own McQueen Gin apprentice distiller, Bruce Filippi Walker. Below is his story so far, and the hopes he holds for his future:
Bruce on family:
My name is Bruce Filippi Walker. I was born to Italian and Scottish parents, raised in Glasgow, and have had a keen interest in food and drink ever since I was little. My family always joked that my passion comes from the Italian side for food and the Scottish side for drink but looking back they might have been right. My first ever job was indeed as a pizza chef at a local restaurant, but my passion for producing alcohol stems from time spent with my mum. We would always create different gin liqueurs together and it was something I really enjoyed.
Bruce on education:
After leaving school, I didn’t see the appeal of university. I wanted to get involved in the food and drink industry immediately. Luckily, I discovered McQueen Gin at a trade show right at the time they had an opening for an apprentice distiller. I submitted by CV and soon after I was making the trip to Callander for an interview with Dale McQueen. I felt like he took a real interest not just in my experience with gin, but in my goals as a young person starting their career. This made me all the more delighted when he offered me the job.
Up until that point creating gin had just been a hobby but I wanted the opportunity to truly learn the craft. My role now has me heavily involved in every aspect of the gin production, from fork lifting empty bottles off lorries to carefully measuring the botanicals. Every day is a learning day at the McQueen distillery and I feel fortunate to be doing something that I enjoy so much.
Bruce on heritage:
I’m excited to be part of Scotland’s food and drink industry as it is one of the most important draws to our country. When doing tours of the distillery, whether visitors are from America, Japan, China, Australia or beyond, the one thing they all know is that Scotland has amazing food and drink. From smoked salmon and haggis to whisky and, more recently, gin!
The growth of the gin market over the last few years has been fantastic. Seeing how McQueen Gin in particular has grown, and knowing I’ve been part of that, is something I’m extremely proud of. I hope that others like myself, who are passionate about Scottish food and drink, can continue to get involved in the industry. It’s part of our heritage. When you learn a craft that generations of people have worked to perfect, the level of expertise you get to work under is unrivalled. You have the chance to become the best in the world at something.
Bruce on the future:
Personally, I would love to be a master distiller one day. It would take a long time to achieve, but I love what I do and genuinely enjoy the learning process here at McQueen. Looking to the future I see gin becoming a staple Scottish export, and I hope to play an active part in this by bringing my own innovation and passion to the industry. I also hope that this would help bring more money to the gin industry, which could be used to create more apprenticeships and jobs for young people like myself.
Bruce on his favourite McQueen Gin:
It has to be the McQueen Spiced Chocolate Orange Gin. I think it is one of the most inventive combinations of botanicals we have produced here so far. There are also some great gin cocktails you can make with it as an alternative to a G&T.