Name: Jamie Baggott
Company: Ellers Farm Distillery
Role: Master distiller
What was your first job? Fishmonger.
What’s been your worst job interview? Garden centre manager – I was asked to go by an agency, which seemed odd as I was in supermarket retail at the time, but I went because it was my favourite garden centre. Five minutes in, it turned out it was supposed to be a different Jamie, which was awkward! I continued with the interview and pitched that it would be an idea to give me the opportunity to retail the store, rather than put someone in charge who was a plant specialist. I ended up running the UK’s largest garden centre and did 25% year-on-year in my first year, so despite an unexpected start, it actually put me on the path to what I now do.
What was the first music single you bought? Paranoid, Black Sabbath.
How do you describe your job to your friends? The best job I have had. It’s great to be creative within your job and it doesn’t get much better than producing something that millions of people will get to enjoy. I also describe it as very hard work; consumers only see the nice bit, when they get to taste the finished product. What they don’t see is the endless hours of distilling and maintaining the ingredients and the equipment.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? Creating new products that are innovative and enjoyed by the consumer. It’s such a great thing to see something you have made on a bar or supermarket shelf.
What is the least rewarding part? Nothing really, I would like people to try the product neat sometimes before just adding mixtures and garnish, but that’s because I’m a purist and spend hours/days/weeks creating recipes!
What is your motto in life? Make everything the best it can be, then try to improve it.
If you were allowed one dream perk, what would it be? I see my job as a perk – distilling has given me the opportunity to work with, and meet, royalty, major celebrities and some of the UK’s top chefs. That’s not something that a council estate lad from the Midlands would really expect to do.
Do you have any phobias? Not really.
If you could change one thing in grocery, what would it be? I would look backwards. I think grocery retail has become really sterile and uninspiring. Cleanliness, availability, display and customer service standards today wouldn’t have been acceptable in the 80s and 90s.
What luxury would you have on a desert island? A decent bed.
What animal most reflects your personality? Patterdale terrier (I have one) – uncompromisingly loyal and tenaciously protective.
What’s your favourite film and why? A Time to Kill – it’s quite hard to watch, but no other film has ever connected with me so much. The closing courtroom statement is incredibly emotional and will stay with you forever.
What has been the most embarrassing moment in your life? Sitting in a shopping trolley, made to look like an aeroplane, going down the biggest water slide at Butlins Barry Island and trying to fly across the swimming pool. That was back when I thought I was a cool but fun 15-year-old. Little did I know, I was being filmed by the BBC for an end of news “fun item”.
Which celebrity would you most like to work with and why? I’ve always been a massive fan of Amy Lee (Evanescence) and I connect massively with her music. I have heard her favourite tipple is vodka, and since I make vodka very well it would be a good fit.
What would your death row meal be? Anything I cooked myself.