Q&A with Senior Brand Manager, Hannah Alexander
This week we caught up with Senior Brand Manager, Hannah Alexander, to find out more about her journey into the role she plays at Darnley's Gin. Hannah is the Senior Brand Manager for Wemyss Family Spirits. She started at Wemyss back in 2018 as an Assistant Brand Manager for Kingsbarns Distillery and has progressed through the years to now over see all three brands: Kingsbarns, Wemyss Malts and Darnley's Gin.
[Hannah Alexander] As soon as I started I absolutely loved it. Working in spirits is what I wanted to do, so when I got the job I was over the moon. I worked hard with the brand director at the time who mentored and nurtured me into a brand manager role. From there, I kept working and getting involved in every aspect of the business and then I was given the incredible opportunity to become senior brand manager and work across the entire portfolio of brands.
What inspired you to pursue that path?
Honestly, I think it’s just pure passion! I love what I do. I know most people say this but every day is different in my role, and it really keeps the excitement and energy alive. Being a brand manager is being a guardian of the brand. You’re at the helm of so many aspects of marketing; new product development, packaging, creative, PR, strategy and so much more. I also have so much love for the industry that I’m in. The Scottish spirits world is exciting and filled with people who are so passionate about their craft, is incredible to be involved.
How has the brand evolved over the past decade?
The brand has evolved so much over the last decade! Thinking back, it was originally called Darnley’s View, inspired by the tale of Queen Mary of Scots looking through the courtyard window at Wemyss Castle to the ‘view’ of Lord Darnley, her future husband. Since the major rebrand to Darnley’s Gin, it’s gone from strength to strength. It’s now in a beautiful position with our ‘nature distilled’ ethos and strapline and all I can say is stay tuned because we have some amazing things planned in! It’s also been incredibly insightful and fun to have our bespoke Darnley’s Gin Experience in Castle St. where guests can blend their very own gin, taste our gin range, or sit for a perfect serve G&T.
What do you think differentiates Darnley’s from other gin brands?
Darnley’s Gin is small-batch gin made using only natural ingredients; the best botanicals, the freshest Scottish water and pure spirit! What we can’t grow, we forage and what we can’t forage we source from sustainable suppliers.
We believe that by respecting the ingredients gifted to us by nature, and not using colours, sweeteners or artificial flavourings, we can create gin that brings a nuanced and authentic taste to your glass. Our gin still is also in a delightful cottage on the grounds of Kingsbarns Distillery, which is pretty unique! Distilling in Fife is the perfect way to fulfil our dreams of returning to the place where the Wemyss family have worked and lived for centuries. At our cottage we have a lovely little garden where we grow as many botanicals as the Scottish weather allows but more exotic ingredients, like cinnamon and grains of paradise, need warmer climates so are sourced from growers around the world that we’ve come to know and trust. We continue to grow, forage and source in our endless botanical exploration.
What industry changes do you think will shape the brands direction in the future?
As a brand, and company, we try to do what’s right for the brand rather than what everyone else is doing in the industry. It needs to have purpose and make sense, and have a greater intention. We’re at a point in the world now where we can’t ignore the climate crisis and I feel that every company should be doing their part to help. Of course, it’s one of our main focuses and again comes back to our ethos of ‘nature distilled’ where we grow or forage as many of our botanicals as possible, along with other ethical and sustainable pursuits we’re embarking upon.
What is your all-time favourite release and why?
I truly love all of our gins, but my all-time favourite release so far is Smoke & Zest which was our Cottage Series #2. The reason being it’s the most unique gin I’ve ever seen and tasted, and for me, it really cut through the industry. Although, I must admit, our new Cottage Series #3 Wild Citrus is one of the most delicious G&Ts I’ve ever had!
If you were able to share a gin with anybody, living or in history, who would it be?
That is such a good question! Do I have to only pick one person? I’d love to sit down with Melinda Gates, her philanthropy work is inspiring and I’d love to talk to her for even 5 minutes. As a marketer, one of my most favourite brands is Apple, which you may say is typical, but they are the leaders in innovation, design and marketing in my eyes. There’s no denying that Steve Jobs and his work was game-changing so for me it would be incredible to sit with him for a conversation. Okay last one, but I have to mention the great Shania Twain. I’m a HUGE Shania fan so that would be an incredible drinking buddy and singalong partner. Could you imagine the stories? Although I suspect that a gin would quickly turn into a bourbon!
INTERVIEWED BY KRISTEN MCGHIE