Master’s Blog – January

January began well with an “eat through” of the menu we have chosen for the February Livery lunch. I was joined in this endeavour by the Mistress, the Assistant Clerk and Liveryman Jonathan Orr-Ewing. All with discerning taste. 

Those attending the February lunch will make their own judgement, but we were content!

It put an abrupt and early end to any notion of dry January (I wondered whether Dry January is a marketing ploy to encourage the consumption of Dry Martini cocktails – or Dry sherry?). From there it was a short walk to the Industry Committee meeting at the WSET offices in Bermondsey St.  

The Master and Wardens Meeting preceded the Benevolent Lunch in Vintners Hall a few days later and the month was becoming less Dry by the day. 

Invited by PM Hayman (who is also an PM of  the Upholders ) to a dinner of the Worshipful Company of Upholders in Bakers Hall -one which was destroyed during the Blitz and the first to be rebuilt in a modern style in 1963 -..the Master Baker the Master Painter Stainer and Master of the Tim Plate and Wire Workers were also present .

The Master Upholder remarked in his speech that we had a connection going back many years as he had produced the labels for Beefeater Gin and we had first met during the 1980s .

In most Livery Companies there is a Sung Grace before the speeches. This is in addition to the spoken grace preceding the dinner. It is the same “Livery Grace” used by all Livery Companies- The 16th century Laudi Spirituali. 

I am not sure why the Distillers do not follow this tradition – especially as we are the Livery of Spirits we have such fine voices . Something for us to consider?

I had the opportunity to present the Distillers Prizes to two winners for outstanding results achieved in WSET spirit examinations.

This took place in the Guildhall and was very well attended .It demonstrates the enthusiasm and commitment of the educators and students for the study of wines and spirits and the success of the WSET. 

The Worshipful Company of Marketors Installation Dinner took place in Draper’s Hall one of the grandest and most richly decorated Halls in the City.

I was one of eight different Masters to be invited and as I am also a Liveryman of this Company it was a pleasure to see many old friends there. 

The Marketors have a well established mentoring programme which extends beyond their own Livery. 

I hope we can arrange a joint event of some kind with them during the course of the year. 

PM Watling and I visited the crypt of St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square where the memorial and imposing bust of our Founder Sir Theodore de Mayerne is located. Sir Theodore was a remarkable man born in Geneva in 1573. A highly successful physician to the royal families in France and England he knew many famous people of the period from the poet John Donne to Cardinal Richelieu. 

As a successful entrepreneur and wealthy man he was also a philanthropist and worshipped at St Martin in the Fields – his local Church. 

We will return to the life and influence of the Founder in future blogs. We owe a lot to him – or we might still be part of the Apothecaries Company!

Many internal meetings have taken place since the start of the year on different subjects as our Company continues to evolve. The month finished with a visit to Armagnac with the Mistress to make final preparations for the Court visit in June.