BY KIRSTY PURNELL
A man who has dedicated his life to gin has been given an MBE for his services to the industry.
Battersea resident Desmond Payne got the nod for working as a gin distiller for 50 years.
Prince William gave him his award on Tuesday of last week at Buckingham Palace.
The Beefeater Master Distiller had earned the company the trophy for Best Gin eight times at the International Wines and Spirits Competition (IWSC) during his 20 year stint there. The Gin Guild records also show that he is the longest serving gin distiller in the world.
The Guild awarded him a lifetime achievement award in November 2015.
He said: “I am truly honoured to receive this award. It’s a real privilege working at Beefeater and in this industry, and to be recognised in this manner is very humbling.
“I am just thrilled to have been able to witness the remarkable resurgence of this great industry.”
As Master Distiller, Desmond masterminds the entire gin-making process – from selecting juniper berries at harvest to creating distillates to blend together.
He is also the only man in the country who know the secret recipe of Beefeater gin, which was created by James Burrough in 1863.
Mr Payne said: “It’s hard to believe that I’ve been working in this wonderful industry for 50 years now.
“When I started out in 1967, I could never have predicted that gin would evolve to the remarkable level we see today.
“It’s been a privilege to be part of the journey and to witness first-hand how gin has helped usher in a new golden era for cocktails and inspire a generation of bartenders to be so creative.”