Social June. The busiest time of year for a Master. I think the highlight was Common Hall, when our own liveryman Vincent Keaveny was elected Aldermanic Sheriff – the first Distiller for 50 years. The event had all the pomp and circumstance you would expect from a Guildhall event, but with the added twist of a contested election for the non-Aldermanic Sheriff which was won by Liz Greene. The Distillers who attended then retired to a delicious lunch at Tallow Chandlers with 120 others.
The other highlight was Ironbridge. This is the weekend that Masters and their consorts go for an informal weekend to the Ironbridge Gorge Trust. It is a fascinating chance to see one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution. It is also a nice informal way to get to know your fellow Masters and consorts. I did my best to ensure that our Company’s products were still being consumed well into the early hours!
We have had our traditional June events starting with the Informal dinner at the Carlton Club with an informative speech from Commander Simon Collins of 825 Naval Air Squadron, who recently received the Freedom of the Company by Presentation. Jamie Masraff, of Onside Youth Zones, also spoke and captured the vibrancy and need for the youth club in Dagenham which we have supported from the whisky auction. Then there was the June Court lunch which remains a great way to catch up with all the Court and Stewards and was held at Tallow Chandlers.
There were two events connected to our affiliations. One was a potential future affiliation with the trade association from Armagnac. The Master Elect, Martin Riley, became a Lieutenant of the British Squadron of Muskateers of Armagnac and the Court plans a trip to Armagnac in 2019. Distillers’ Steward Jean Deillon provided a suitably Gallic feast for the occasion at Armourers and Brasiers, whose motto “We are One” evoked the Muskateers “All for One and One for All.” Later in the month a completely different affiliation with 603 Air Squadron. A number of liverymen went up to Suffolk to see the work of 603 at RAF Honington. The Squadron is part of the RAF Regiment, which guards the airfields. The Regiment’s Museum is a moving tribute to all the RAF’s work over the last 100 years.
A Master’s life does involve a certain amount of feasting and I was entertained by the Tobacco Pipemakers for lunch, Sheriff Neil Redcliffe for dinner and Master Girdler for dinner. The latter, James Maitland, is a Colchester wine merchant. He gave us a number of mystery wines to drink, including a 1962 Hermitage. The mystery digestif was initially diagnosed as a Calvados. Luckily the Master Distiller could nose out an Islay Whisky when he smells one and my reputation stayed intact.
It was a pleasure to be present at the launch of Copperfield Gin by liveryman Katherine Smart at the Charles Dickens Museum. Finally I made two trips to Mansion House. One was a surprisingly interesting tax debate by the Tax Advisors. Where will the tax take come from when payroll tax becomes eroded by robots and fuel duty gets impacted by electric cars? Finally the Lord Mayor summarised the Pan-Livery work streams on Communication (reputation management) and Philanthropy (employability for young people at risk of offending and those who are ex-offenders). However there is still much work to be done.