The Gin Philosopher – AKA Andy Bracey – has an Instagram page that looks like he works of a top flight cocktail bar! His shots pulled me in but his words made me follow him. I was lucky enough to meet him only for a short while at The Gin To My Tonic festival in Glasgow this year and really hope to meet again properly. I am so pleased he agreed to share a bit of himself here on Behind the Blogger so you can all check him out and see what’s behind this amazing online presence.
Behind the Blogger Can you tell us what your page is all about?
My page was never really set out as a blog, in the strictest terms by some I’m probably not considered as a blogger as I don’t have an independent blogging website, I just share gin related things that I love through my Social Media channels.
However the main purpose of my page was always to write about gins that I’ve tried, originally by posting a review, however now I have started to move more into the cocktail scene, I love the experimentation of creating a drink or playing with a recipe that I have seen.
My page therefore has morphed a little over time, I’ve also moved away from writing about some of the mainstay distillers to champion the “craft industry”, and more recently have started to put a bit more of a focus on spirits away from gin.
Do you have a blog or do you mainly use social media to share your thoughts?
As mentioned I only “blog” through Social Media. Having had quite a stressful job and 3 kids has meant that in the past I’ve never had sufficient time to develop a website, or put in the time that I would want to create the content.
However I’ve recently taken redundancy and I am taking some time out. I’m quite creative and my mind has certainly drifted to running a more structured independent blog, I’m just trying to think through currently how that may look, watch this space.
What was the turning point that made you decide to get involved in the drink blogging world?
It was out of boredom one Boxing Day. I was sitting thinking what I could do and my wife suggested setting up an account on Instagram.
It could have all been very different, I was originally thinking of turning my hand to writing about Craft Beer, at the time I was attending lots of festivals and it was a scene that I really enjoyed being around. A good craft beer is still my “go to” if I don’t fancy drinking spirits.
However I chose Gin as it’s a spirit I have loved for a long time, I had received a couple of bottles for Christmas and I fancied exploring something a little different.
Did you set out with any goals? (did you want to write reviews for distilleries, make recipes or just want to write about something you were interested in?)
I didn’t have any goals as such, it was more of a challenge to myself to be creative and write about something new.
I just kept everything crossed in the early stages and hoped that a few people would stop by to read my musings.
I couldn’t believe how quickly things took off and even now I am totally blown away that people take the time to follow my account.
Do you have any drink industry experience and do you think that makes a difference to how people perceive your opinion?
No, I have no drink related industry experience, I have not even worked in a bar.
I create cocktails as a part of my blog, however the thought of doing that under pressure for the paying public would fill me with dread, I have nothing but the upmost respect for those that work in the hospitality industry.
In terms of distillery knowledge I have learnt so much in the last couple of years and even though I have no “on the job” knowledge, from talking to people that I consider to be friends in the distilling industry I now have a good in depth knowledge of how spirits are made.
I’m very honest in my writing, I don’t hold myself up to be an expert, that would be wrong and I would hope that anyone reading my views would appreciate that point.
What do you hope people take away from your writing?
I would hope that people would see that creating drinks at home is fun, I never take myself too seriously and will quite happily poke fun of myself.
In terms of me writing a spirit review, people need to understand that it is only my honest view.
I have had people contradict my opinion after reading a review, well of course that is going to happen, not all people like the same things, taste is subjective.
I have also been accused in the past of only writing positive reviews, and if I’m honest that is true, my reviews are positive.
I will never write a negative review, if a distiller asks me to write a review on a new spirit they have and I don’t like it, I will write back to them constructively telling them why I don’t like it, and it won’t get featured. Posting a negative review could be hugely damaging for a small distiller, and like I have already said, just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean others will.
Who are you when you are away from the gin and drinks pages? Tell us more about the person behind the name? By the way, where did you get the name for your page?
Who am I? I always find this type of question the most difficult to answer as I am not particularly good at writing about myself.
I am very sociable, I find it quite difficult to be in my own company at home for any length of time.
I am quite creative, love to write and have a desire to learn new skills, hence getting more involved in the cocktail scene, there is so much to be learnt in that area.
I am a keen photographer and I am at my happiest with my camera at the coast. I am also a very keen traveller and have been privileged to travel throughout the world and experience some amazing things. Although not a religious person I would say I am quite spiritual and for a time tried to follow a few principles of Buddhism picked up from living in Asia some time ago.
In terms of my Instagram name, The Gin Philosopher was always meant to be an identity to hide behind, a name to write behind incognito, I thought it fun to retain a sense of mystery behind the account.
I actually had a close friend follow me for a year without knowing that it was me.
However the mystery hasn’t lasted too long, as a lot of people fellow instagram users that I have met at events know me as Andy, the name will stick around for a while though.
Has there been anyone who’s inspired your blogging journey?
There are so many fellow bloggers that inspire me, I love people that create original content and put effort into what they are producing.
I like bloggers that write from the heart so that you really feel their passion, individuals that are able to describe things in their own words.
There is nothing worse for me reading a review that is just information copied from the back of a bottle or pasted from another website.
I also like bloggers who tell a story in their posts, giving us a little information about their lives, writing creatively, it helps build a connection with that individual
I have to say that I am also attracted to fellow bloggers by their standard of photography, there are some exceptional bloggers out there that can convey a story without any words, but say it all in the composition of an image.
If I really had to pick one account that I take huge inspiration from it would have to be The Margarita Mum, for all the reasons above.
As already mentioned I do need to get my butt in gear to set up a “proper” blog.
I’m also keen to experiment with different blogging mediums. In the past few weeks I have been blogging using IG Live with Social Gin Girl. The “lives” take an awful lot of preparation, and although they absolutely shred my nerves to pieces it is something that I want to look into a little further.
I also want to look into how I can use video a lot more creatively as a medium.
In terms of what I blog about, although I still absolutely love gin, the cocktail scene excites me and gives me that licence to be creative, it’s also given me exposure to spirits other than gin. You may therefore see me blogging a little more on spirits away from all things Juniper.
Fantastic to get to know a bit more about you Andy! I feel exactly the same way regarding good reviews. I try to be honest but if a gin is really not to my taste I will get in touch with the distillery if it’s been gifted to let them know. I don’t like posting bad reviews but always let people know how I’ve found it and that taste is subjective. Isn’t the Margarita Mum amazing? Truly an inspiration of mine too.If you want to watch some really down to earth Insta Lives then check out The Gin Philosopher and Christine – Social Gin Girl. I always love their passion and you can tell they are having fun. You can find out more and follow Andy here-https://instagram.com/gin_philosopher?igshid=mfz5ryb20hu3Thanks to Andy for taking time out to answer these questions and let us all see what’s Behind the Blogger!Pam x