Amass Master Distiller on bottling nature
Morgan McLachlan, the Master Distiller and Chief Product Officer of botanical brand Amass, discusses combining creativity with technical skill and breaking into the boys’ club of distilling
By Aleah Aberdeen Images courtesy of Morgan McLachlan and Amass Thursday 22 October, 2020 Short read
Led by CEO Mark Thomas Lynn, Amass – meaning ‘to gather’ – uses multicultural and non-traditional botanicals to offer spirit categories with variety, working in the realms of technicality and creativity. ‘You have to know the rules before you break them,’ explains McLachlan. Reishi and adaptogenic mushrooms, which are featured ingredients in Amass Dry Gin, certainly push the boundaries for experimentation. Given the economic boom of the wellness industry, integrating spirits with natural medicines seems on the mark.
Orange peel and nutmeg are also among the 29 botanicals used to distill the Dry Gin, in celebration of the cultural terrain of contemporary Los Angeles. ‘California is the salad bowl of America. I have a love affair with the landscape,’ explains McLachlan down the phone from her home in LA.
‘Historically, distilling has been a boys’ club,’ she says. ‘I don’t fit the traditional mould of an old white man who is probably from the South.’ But with her background as a film technician, this male-centric narrative comes as no surprise to her. ‘There were about 5% of women working with cameras when I was in the industry, and there’s even less than that in distilling – but I don’t let that bother me. We need to support each other and encourage other women in the field to have intention.’
A gift for technical skills, combined with McLachlan’s passion for craft and precision, has pushed her to succeed in such a male-heavy environment. ‘These technical elements, the genre aesthetic conventions of cinema, all exist in distilling,’ she explains, referring back to her old film days. Trading in the Hollywood entertainment world for California’s Central Valley clementines wasn’t as dissimilar as one might think.
‘My hope is that there is a dawn of a renaissance and that we become more mindful of what we drink and put into our bodies,’ says McLachlan, who prioritises transparency over the ingredients she uses in any Amass products, which historically hasn’t been the case for all alcohol brands. As we move towards gathering together more often, Amass is constantly evolving to find new ways to update traditional practices for the modern day.