Just before the Installation Dinner I spoke to the Assistant Clerk, Kim Lyons, about bringing a guest. She laughingly told me that there were 20 on a waiting list. So, another Distillers’ dinner was oversubscribed. Is that a tribute to outgoing Master Martin Riley, great anticipation for the incoming Master Kenny MacKay, or simply recognition of the vibrancy of our Company? I am sure a combination of all three, but we can all be proud of the fact that we can throw a party people will queue to attend.
The evening started with a calm and relaxed Martin introducing Kenny -looking anything but calm and relaxed – standing for our applause. That said, I am sure he drew strength from the opening toast with the Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt.
Dinner of salmon (done three distinct ways), Scottish lamb, goats cheese Bon Bon and a stunningly rich chocolate fondant brought only one complaint from those seated around me, namely: why only one Bon Bon? We really did need more!
The toast to the guests was made by Liveryman Rebecca Jago. Despite telling us that she was unaccustomed to public speaking, she confidently led us through the principal guests and, most importantly, a healthy crop of bright young new Liverymen – the foundations of the future prosperity of the Company.
Gordon Bannerman, a Scottish Sports Journalist, responded on behalf of the guests, regaling us with tales of the Master and himself growing up together in Perth – and our Master single handedly growing the Scottish whisky industry by extraordinary numbers (which only a Scotsman would dare to boast!).
The Master then rose to set out his stall for the year: he promised fun and fellowship and to support our Industry – but his key focus would be Social, Education and Charity, ideals I am sure we all support.
Any Master has a huge responsibility to uphold the history and traditions of a proud Company such as ours – but representing a huge, active industry adds a heavy burden of responsibility which most Masters of other Companies do not have. Following on from Martin and his predecessors, I know Kenny will be another great leader of this Company.