There is only one major gin producer still distilling true London Dry Gin, Beefeater, tucked innocuously behind the Oval cricket ground. We were lucky enough to be given a tour earlier this week to discuss a very interesting project and also given the rare opportunity of meeting the master distiller Desmond Payne
With over 40 years of experience distilling gin, he is the world expert and has an office that reflects his passion and years in the field. His ‘lab’ and office between them contain a rich archive of everything from James Burrough’s father’s original royal warrant for supplying tea to the Queen in the 1800’s, original bottles, bottles of alcoholic cloves original recipe cards for every variety of gin you could imagine from 1862 onwards, and a framed print of the iconic ‘Gin Lane’ by William Hogarth from 1751. Rather than the righteous public service temperance work I had assumed it to be, Desmond was happy to explain that it was a blatant piece of pro-beer propaganda commissioned by the major London brewers at the time to draw customers away from Dutch gin.
It was without a doubt an enjoyable, enlightening and educational visit.