We had the honour of holding this year’s Annual Livery Banquet in the Egyptian Hall at the Mansion House in the presence of the 691st Lord Mayor of London, Peter Estlin and the Lady Mayoress Lindy Estlin. Built between 1739 and 1752 on the old site of the Stocks Exchange by architect George Dance the Elder, Mansion House is one of London’s great buildings. The main reception room, the columned Egyptian Hall, was so named because Dance used an arrangement of columns deemed to be ‘Egyptian’ by Roman architect Vitruvius even though no Egyptian motifs were employed. It hosted a selection of delicious food and oh so tempting wines and spirits – of which this scribe found the St Joseph with the Pheasant to be a particular highlight.
The sound of the ceremonial horns echoing from the east balcony to the west, and the bagpipers of the London Scottish Regiment marching in splendour around the hall to the sound of rhythmic clapping, added to the wonder of the occasion. The traditional circulation and drinking in friendship from the Loving Cup, as attendees protected the imbiber with a dangerously sharp (at this stage of proceedings) sword made the evening as memorable as ever.
Given the well-publicised environmental protests during the Chancellor’s Mansion House speech earlier in the year, along with the current unrest from the Extinction Rebellion protests, security was understandably tight – but perfectly judged. Most attendees were grateful that eggs stayed firmly on the plates, milkshakes did not leave the nearby McDonalds, and the only troublemakers were fully paid-up members of the Livery Company and/or Gin Guild, always under the watchful eye of the Wardens, who acted impeccably!
It is a particular point of pride that this year’s Lord Mayor is an ardent supporter of the spirits industry. As part owner of The Cotswolds Distillery, we had the pleasure of tasting a bottling of limited-edition Cotswolds Distillery Lord Mayor’s Reserve single malt whisky, a blend of first-fill Bourbon, red wine and Pedro Ximénez casks.
Meanwhile, the Master of the Distillers’ Livery Company, Martin Riley – as befits the Leader of the British Squadron of la Compagnie des Mousquetaires d’Armagnac – produced his own gifts of the Master’s Cask, Chateau de Laubade vintage 2003 cask strength bas Armagnac which he presented to the Lord Mayor and the guest speaker, Kate Robertson. The Master also presented the Company Quaich to each of the new Sheriffs.
Perhaps the biggest cheer of the evening – after the applause of appreciation for the event’s organisers Assistant Clerk Kim Lyons and Clerk Edward Macey-Dare – went to Dr Anne Brook, Chief Distiller for Bombay Sapphire, who was appointed as the latest, and first ever female, Grand Rectifier by the Master. A magnificent achievement. In turn, Christopher Hayman was presented with the Gin Guild Lifetime Award for his 50 years in the industry.
The Lord Mayor’s campaign for his year in office is ‘Shaping tomorrow’s City today’. So it was therefore extremely fitting that Kate Robertson, co-founder of One Young World, which aims to give young leaders a chance to make the world a better place, was brought in as the zenith of the evening’s speeches. Her ability to inspire the gathered hoards, evening through the mist of some delicious 20-year old Tawny Port, to listen to and nurture the leaders of tomorrow, was something to behold.
Excellent sentiments to end the evening and plenty of food for thought ahead of the upcoming Livery Company Installation Dinner on 21st November.