Meet the New Master 2021 – Chris Porter

I have been a Liveryman since 2000. I am proud and privileged to be your new Master and my wife, Alison, is honoured to become the new Mistress. We are really looking forward to our year.

My career in the drinks industry has been as a specialist freight forwarding agent to UK wine and spirits companies, importing and exporting – it’s been an interesting year! I have also been a long-time supporter of drinks industry-related charities and have been both Chairman and CEO of The Benevolent (now The Drinks Trust).

I would like to pay tribute to my predecessors, Immediate Past Master Jonathan Driver and Past Master Kenny MacKay. Both their years were decimated by Covid-19, with few events possible, yet both managed to take our Livery forward strategically and delivered energy throughout very difficult times. Their leadership in lockdown provided the platform for where we are today.

I am very fortunate that my year has coincided with us finally being able to make plans once more. We have a year full of events to enjoy, both formal and informal and I hope to see and meet as many of you as possible throughout my year. Details of all these will appear on the Company’s website and circulars from the Clerk’s office.

2022 is a very special and significant year for the Distillers. It marks the 350th anniversary of our Worshipful Company being granted Livery status by the Court of Aldermen in 1672. From that point, and ranked 69th in the order of precedence, we took our place alongside the other existing Livery Companies of the day. We could vote and take part in civic ceremonies and support the work of the Corporation of London and the Lord Mayor. It also meant that we could become a focal point for the nation’s spirits industry.

350 years later, this spirit is more alive and well than ever, delivering our key strategic charitable, educational and industry goals.

My year as Master will be a celebration of this milestone, what it has enabled us to achieve, and the opportunities it presents to us for the future.

The theme for my year is my Master’s 350th Anniversary Appeal – ‘£350 For The 350’. I am appealing to the 350 members of our Livery to each raise £350, with a target total of £122,500.

There are a range of suggestions for fundraising ideas. There’s a toolkit available on our website to help plan events or activities to achieve this target. Whether as an individual, a group, or on a corporate basis (you are, of course, not limited to just £350!), the simple idea is to celebrate our Livery by raising £1 for every year of our Livery’s existence. With your help, we can do this!

The money raised from ‘£350 For The 350’ will go to the Distillers’ Charity (as restricted funding) and will be distributed amongst our charity beneficiaries, The Drinks Trust, the Alcohol Education Trust and the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Appeal.

We will be staging a Treasure Hunt in April, a Master’s Picnic in July, as well as challenging other Liveries to inter-livery petanque and golf matches. There is a lot of fun to be had, money to be raised, and the prospect of drinking some seriously good product along the way!

To promote the appeal message, I will be visiting one distillery in each month of my year – six in England, six in Scotland – and I’ll be collecting a very special bottle from each. All 12 bottles donated from my visits will then make up a very special Master’s Case for the 350th, which will be auctioned shortly before the end of my year. I will be messaging you from each distillery each month, alongside an appeal update, mentioning individuals and ongoing company fundraisers and telling you about our forthcoming events.

This year is even more significant, given that our very own Honorary Liveryman (and fellow Court member), Alderman Vincent Keaveny, has been installed as Lord Mayor – our first since John Johnson in 1845. We look forward to working closely with Vincent throughout his mayoral year. The Distillers were very proud to have been a part of his Lord Mayor’s Show on 13th November and, as you can see from the pictures, we had a lot of fun too!

The highlight of our events to celebrate our anniversary will, without doubt, be the 350th Anniversary Banquet, which will take place at The Guildhall on 15th June 2022. I am delighted that Vincent will be in attendance, together with the full Shrieval party, on what will be a very special and historic night for our Livery.

We have more people joining our Livery than ever before. The average Meet the New Master – Chris Porter age of our Livery is decreasing steadily as we recruit more young, dynamic players in the vibrant and increasingly diverse distilling industry of the 21st century.

In my 20 years as a Liveryman, I have seen the development and the astonishing level of work that the Livery has done to become the progressive, engaged, forward-thinking unit that we are today. We have never been in better health. The 350th anniversary recognises and celebrates this, the present and the future, made possible by our illustrious past – the granting of our Livery status in 1672.

Thank you for your support to Alison and myself in what will be a great year.

Chris Porter