Juggling motherhood with being a master female distiller

A woman in a white dress in an orchard

In celebration of Mother’s Day (US), we spoke to Amass Botanics founder Morgan McLachlan about how becoming a mum has changed the way she runs her business

By Amy Roberts

For Morgan McLachlan, cofounder of botanics-based spirits brand Amass Botanics, motherhood didn’t distract from running her business. Instead, the master distiller – one of the first female distillers in the world – found that raising her son gave her a new clarity and an even deeper relationship with her craft. We spoke to McLachlan about the modern ritual behind creating products from plants, the rise of mindful drinking, and occupying a space that’s uniquely hers in the male-dominated distilling world. 

How did pregnancy shape the direction you took in creating new products or moving the brand forward?
‘It gave me deeper conviction around the importance of creating inclusive products, particularly in the drinks space. Something like 30% of adult Americans don’t drink alcohol – shouldn’t they also have sophisticated, nuanced drinks to celebrate with? Our brand has always been decidedly transparent, with a focus on healthier ingredients and production methods, but the importance of that was galvanised when I became pregnant. Any mum will tell you that if they weren’t reading ingredient lists before, they are now.’

Has motherhood affected how you run your business? 
‘I’ve had to get much more adept with delegating and accepting help, and I’ve noticed that I’m much more decisive. I’ve also had to let go of the defeating elements of perfectionism; there just isn’t time for that kind of indulgence. On the flip side, being present for my little son’s development has put me in touch with my own beginner’s mind. It has been a joy.’ 

A bottle of gin and some lemons
A woman preparing ingredients

‘I’ve had to let go of the defeating elements of perfectionism; there just isn’t time for that kind of indulgence’

Tell us a bit about your relationship with the botanical ingredients in your products
‘I focus on botanicals throughout all of our products, primarily for their flavour and aroma attributes, but also their health properties. I use them in ways that aren’t expected, such as the subtle use of marigold and chamomile to enhance the mouthfeel of our vodka; or by using traditional medicinal plants like ashwagandha and reishi for their flavour properties in our gin. I am obsessed with plants; they have a lot to say to us.’
What does ritual look like to you? 
‘Ritual is very simple for me. It’s a space and time for connection: connection with each other, with ourselves, and with nature. Something as easy as lighting a candle or having drinks with friends is grounding and important.’

What’s it like to be a female distiller?
‘I do get asked that question a lot, and it’s difficult to answer because I recognise the subjectivity of it all. It’s a profession that I adore. And perhaps if I was a man, it would have taken shape differently, because I would have felt more pressure to conform. Because I didn’t fit into the cadre of predominantly male distillers, I felt free to experiment in a craft that is, in my opinion, overwrought with tradition.’

As a mother, do you hope to pass down your distilling knowledge to your child? 
‘If anything, it’s more about the importance of a good artistic process – the importance of patience, commitment and mindfulness along the journey, and the developing mastery in a practice. I’m ambivalent about my son becoming a distiller, but I do want him to believe in his own magic.’

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