Viki Baird, Boss Lady, Stillagarden Distillery & Visitor Centre

Name: Viki Baird
Occupation & Company: Boss Lady, Stillagarden Distillery & Visitor Centre

Tell me about your current role?
I started the business in 2019, opened in March 2020 – then swiftly closed. Various openings and closing of the visitor center, thankfully the shop and manufacturing was allowed to continue throughout which gave us the opportunity to develop a wide range of Modern Irish Spirits using modern distilling techniques.

I also wanted to create something that took sustainability to the next level and so we took an area of wasteland next to the distillery & created a community botanical garden where we endeavor to grow many of the botanicals that we use in our drinks, truly garden to glass

Out of the garden project came our Social Botanist Project started in the first lockdown when we gave hospitality workers and people in the community botanical grow kits to take home. When they brought them back, we began to populate the garden with plants that had been lovingly grown by our community. Mint and lavender were two of these botanicals that thrived and thus became two essential ingredients to our flagship Social Gin after a tasting with the Social Botanists, combining science, community and nature.

The project has since expanded to a broader community of local Inchicoreans, Dubliners, South Africans, plant-lovers, gin enthusiasts, foragers, botanists, environmental groups, among many other eclectic personalities. The Social Botanist Project offers social gardening hours, foraging trips, exclusive tastings, seed packs, grow kits, a community that can offer plant advice, and a platform to get to know like-minded individuals who care about the environments and spaces we share together. My team of 10, consists of mostly males unfortunately. Every time I post for a job (aside from marketing roles) it’s all males that apply. Would love to see this change.

How did you first get into the drinks industry?
I love socialising and cocktails! Seriously though I felt there was a gap in industry for modern take on spirits in Ireland. Most distilleries pride themselves on the traditional methods of creating drinks which is great but I felt there was room for a more modern take. I also have a love of organising events and being creative so the gin school was something I really wanted to, out of that the other experiences followed from Afternoon Tea with a gin tasting, cocktail masterclasses and distillery & garden tours.

What is your favorite part about working in the industry?
Meeting people and providing first class drinks, experiences and events. I was recently in London at the Irish Embassy serving at a meet the makers event, it’s great to meet up with industry peers too.

We’re meeting up for a wee drink after work – what are you having?
Stillgarden Berrissimo Irish Spritz, a blackberry based aperitif with Prosecco and soda, so refreshing and summery.

You can only have one drink for the rest of your life, what’s in your glass?
Stillgarden Social Gin & Light Tonic or a lovely cold Albariño.

It’s Saturday night, what restaurant are you going to?
My fav is Richmond Restaurant on Richmond Street. Consistently excellent.

Is there a bucket list drink you want to try, or a dream drink destination you’d love to visit?
I cycled around the Wineries in New Zealand recently but have never done that in France and I would dearly love to (if i ever get time!).

The most memorable experience of your career?
Winning awards is always lovely , below are the ones we have won with Stillgarden, the one that meant the most to me was Silver in the Irish Food Awards for Berrissimo as I totally was not expecting it, we had some tough competition. We also won Travel Hospitality Awards, Unique Experience of the Year in Dublin. 2022 which was another great win,

One thing you’d like to see more of in the drinks industry?
More female leaders!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career in the industry?
Don’t be afraid of the boys club, they’re probably more afraid of you!

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