The JOINT DISTILLERS MARKETORS PANEL EVENT (JDME) took place on the eve of 1st November 23 at HMS President, just off St Katherine’s dock, adjacent to the brightly-lit Tower Bridge, and beside a dark and appropriately ruffled River Thames.
The subject of deliberation was the present-day USA market great disruptor ‘Tequila in the Spotlight’. With a highly-charged panel of Nuno Teles (Diageo MD UK), Marina Santos (white spirits, Campari UK), David Haigh (Marketor), and David Elmer (Marketor, and one-time resident for many decades in South America) the scene was set. Overseeing all and posing questions was once again, our house Moderator David Wethey of Agency Assessments.
The evening got underway with a warm welcome to the hundred-plus Distiller and Marketor Liverymen and guests, and a few tequila anecdotes, from Master Distiller Chris Searle – with an intro to a philanthropic moment from Reverend Canon Dr Alison Joyce of St Brides. For those of slim tequila knowledge (many in fact), Past Master Martin Riley then swiftly gave a 4-5 minute treatise on the origins and nature of tequila, before handing over to the panel.
From thereon, the audience were treated to a fast-paced analysis on the successes and challenges facing tequila – such as supply for an 8-year production cycle, protection of the integrity of the brand, and production origin. Much discussion centred on the emergence of celebrity endorsement, the phenomenal growth of the brand in USA, the parallel positioning of mezcal, all rounding off with panellists briefly describing their preferred cocktail and mixers of choice (for Nuno Teles of Diageo this turned out to be soda and lime, particularly so as not to break his keto-diet!)
Turning to audience questions, like the growing Storm Ciarán outside, David Wethey as moderator was battered with energetic engagement from an array of directions to direct to the panel including LO/NO (alcohol), culinary matching, more on celebrity-styling, and was tequila out in front on endorsement (likened to perfumery) ahead of the other alcohol categories?
All too soon, it was time for the panel to ‘draw stumps’ and introduce top mixologist Daniele Umoette from Brown-Forman who described with zeal the “sipping table” he had organised in the Wardroom next door, together with the wide range of cocktails to try all freshly-made and beautifully served from Campari, Diageo and Brown-Forman – accompanied by stupendously delicious Mexican canapés in the warm glow of the lights of a brooding Tower Bridge.
By 10pm, Liverymen collected their rain-wear, and fortified by cocktails various made for Tower Hill tube with a most-heightened understanding of an interesting spirit that has already broken records and was forecast, like Ciarán, to continue its storming passage!