Watch the clip below from BBC’s Mastermind to see how many questions you can get right on the subject of gin!

Mastermind. © copyright [2022]BBC

It was great to see that gin’s popularity has it featured on Mastermind, and even better to see questions about our Livery and even one of our members!! No spoilers, watch the video and see how many points you can score. © copyright [2022] BBC

Distillers One of One

Our inaugural ‘one of one’ auction totalled £3.1 Million

Edinburgh, 3 December 2021 – Over 40 exceptional whiskies and experiences found new owners from all over the world on December 3rd, when the first in a series of auctions under the banner The Distillers One of One took place at Barnbougle Castle near Edinburgh, organised by The Distillers’ Charity, the philanthropic arm of The Worshipful Company of Distillers, in collaboration with Sotheby’s. 

The auction was staged in the Banqueting Hall, during a lively lunch where the bidders regularly erupted into applause as records tumbled, new benchmarks were set, and funds were raised for the charitable causes. Collectors in the room, on the telephones and online competed for the 42 lots on offer, and by the time the sale drew to a close, the auction had reached a total of £3.1 million / $4.1 million, two and a half times the pre-sale low estimate. Participants from around the world were out in force with registrants from 24 countries.

Over £2 million will be granted to charity partners selected by The Youth Action Fund, which has been created by The Distillers’ Charity to transform the life chances of 16 to 25-year-old people in Scotland, empowering them to create positive change in their lives and communities. 

Jonathan Driver, Immediate Past Master of The Worshipful Company of Distillers, said: “We are truly overwhelmed by the amount that has been raised and are so grateful to all of the sponsors, brands and bidders who got involved, donated spectacular lots and showed us incredible support, for making this happen. To know that over £2.5 million will now be distributed to help young people across Scotland through our charity partners is really special. The success of our first auction is so exciting and we are thrilled that we can continue to support more people for at least the next six years, thanks to our ongoing partnership with Sotheby’s. This whole event wouldn’t have been possible had companies of all sizes from across the Scotch Whisky industry not come together in this amazing collective endeavour. It showcases just how extraordinary the people who work in the world of Scotch Whisky are and we are privileged to have been the catalyst for this landmark sale. We want to extend a huge thanks to everyone involved.”

Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Wine, said: “Our global wine and spirits team were delighted to partner with The Worshipful Company of Distillers and their philanthropic arm, The Distillers’ Charity, to create a new series of charity auctions that showcase the best of the Scotch Whisky industry and provide important funds to benefit disadvantaged young people in Scotland. The phenomenal outcome of this auction follows the significant success of the recent Hospices de Beaune wine sale and we look forward to our first auction with the Napa Valley Vintners early in the year. We are committed to working together with these charitable organisations to unite collectors with special opportunities to acquire rare bottles, while benefiting the communities of each region.” 

Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist, said: “Working with The Worshipful Company of Distillers to present the biggest charity auction project in the history of Scotch Whisky has been one of the most rewarding projects of my career. This was a truly unique collection of whiskies, for which we can thank the creativity and generosity of the distilleries who willingly came on board. Equally generous were the collectors who participated, driving the overall total beyond expectations. Record prices were achieved for Bowmore, Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Ladyburn, and Talisker.”

Leading the sale was the spectacular four bottle set of Glenfiddich from the 1950s (1955, 1957, 1958 and 1959). An extended 30-minute bidding battle broke out as eight collectors competed against each other, driving the final sale price to £1,037,500 / $1,380,760 (est. £220,000-350,000). Provided by William Grant & Sons, this ultra-rare collector’s piece established a new auction record for Glenfiddich.

The second most valuable lot of the sale was the Talisker 1978 Cask of Distinction, which was competed for by several collectors in the room, online and on the telephones, selling to a private collector for a record price of £625,000 / $831,780 (est. £350,000-500,000). This 43 Year Old cask of still-maturing Talisker single malt Scotch whisky was offered with a cask-end that has been turned into an original work of art by acclaimed Scottish painter Callum Innes.

A new auction record was achieved when the Bowmore Onyx 51 Year Old 1970 – presented in a striking, hand-blown, 1.4l black glass vessel taking its inspiration from the terroir of its island home – surpassed its estimate, selling for £400,000 / $532,340 (est. £100,000-180,000).

A further auction record was achieved for ‘lost’ distillery, Ladyburn, when a bottle of 54-year-old whisky distilled in 1966, uniquely labelled with a highly sought-after, hand-signed photograph by David Bailey of John Lennon, made £81,250 / $108,132 (est. £15,000-30,000).

Other significant purchases on the day, from those looking to secure themselves a piece of liquid history, included The Glen Garioch Twin Casks in Cradle 1990 and 2021, which realised £112,500 / $149,720 (est. £100,000-150,000), and The Balvenie 56 Year Old 1964, which exceeded its estimate of £50,000-80,000 to sell for £175,000 / $232,900.

Several once-in-a-lifetime whisky experiences were included in the auction, including the Gordon & MacPhail One of One Selection Experience from the 1940s or 1950s – an unforgettable, immersive visit to Speyside with the opportunity for the lucky recipient to work alongside the team to create their very own whisky – which sold for £87,500 / $116,450 (est. £80,000-160,000). 

As well as the incredible support that the auction received through lot donations, the Distillers One of One auction was delighted to have the involvement of five sponsors that made the event possible. Blyth & Blyth, engineering design consultants, Simpson’s Malt, makers of high quality malt, Glencairn Crystal Studio, inventors of the industry’s favourite glass, The Glencairn Glass,  J.C. Ribeiro, makers of high-quality cork stoppers and McLaren Packaging, designers and manufacturers of premium packaging.

The total hammer price of the Auction will benefit The Distillers’ Charity with ninety percent going to its newly created Youth Action Fund which will be used to change the life chances of disadvantaged young people in Scotland. The remaining ten percent will be used by The Distillers’ Charity for its general charitable purposes.

The Youth Action Fund will initially work together with the following four charities on specific initiatives in Scotland:

  • Aberdeen Foyer, a charitable organisation supporting people towards independent living, learning and work; 
  • ENABLE Scotland, which delivers a range of support services across Scotland, including the ENABLE Works service which provides employment and skills support, assisting people with disabilities or other challenges into employment; 
  • Street League, which uses the power of sport to support young people living in some of the UK’s most disadvantaged communities into work;
  • The Alcohol Education Trust (AET), which will work across the UK to keep young people safe around alcohol 

Michael Urquhart is the new Chair of the Scottish Committee

The Scottish Committee met at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s premises in Queen Street, Edinburgh on Thursday 2nd December with the Master joining by Zoom. Various items were discussed, principally around the planning for the Scottish Dinner on 22nd September 2022 at the Signet Library and the annual lecture for ICBD students. The Master provided an update on his plans for his year.

There was also a “changing of the guard” as Brian Morrison retired as chair of the Scottish Committee with Michael Urquhart assuming the role. There were many warm tributes to Brian for his commitment, his steering of the Committee and ensuring its work resulted in the Distillers being at the heart of the industry in Scotland.

The Committee were also delighted to have resumed an in person ceremony, granting of Freedom of the Company to Scott Allen and Ronnie Macdonald and allowing them to continue their journey to become Liverymen before enjoying a splendid lunch.

Thanks go to SMWS for hosting and we look forward to dining out Past Chairman Morrison in the New Year.

Sir Théodore Turquet de Mayerne Portrait Unveiling

Representatives from the Courts of the Apothecaries Society and the Distillers Company gathered together in Apothecaries’ Hall on Monday 22nd November to witness the unveiling of a recently acquired, 17th Century portrait of our Founder, Sir Théodore Turquet de Mayerne.

The Master with the de Mayerne portrait on the right

Together with Gideon de Laune, (seen in the portrait on the left) de Mayerne worked tirelessly to deliver the Apothecaries split with the Grocers to achieve the split in 1617, ideally placed in his position as personal physician to the Monarch, James I, as de Laune was personal Apothecary to the Queen. De Mayerne then went on to petition successfully for the establishment of the Distillers Company in 1638.

The acquisition of the de Mayerne portrait has given the Society of Apothecaries the opportunity to hang together pictures of two men who were instrumental in the creation of our two Companies.

It’s so important to understand and appreciate just how much of an innovator, philanthropist and educator our Founder, Sir Theodore, was. It is only right that the two companies who owe the most to him are together tonight to recognise his life and achievements. We’re very grateful to the Apothercaries for their warm hospitality and most kind invitation to participate in the celebration not just of the portrait’s acquisition, but the life of this extraordinary man

Chris Porter, Master

The full transcript of The Master’s speech in tribute to Sir Theordore is available to download (.docx)

The Master and Members of the Court

The de Laune portrait is an original oil-on-Board painting by Cornelius Janssen (Johnson) van Ceulen (of Cologne) (1503-1661), whilst the de Mayerne portrait is oil-on-canvas and described as “school of” Cornelius Jansen, and was probably produced in his studio some years after the de Laune.

The Worshipful Company of Distillers kicks-off major knowledge sharing initiative

The Worshipful Company of Distillers has recently launched an educational programme aimed at sharing the Livery’s considerable commercial and marketing knowledge with young distillers. This follows the recent announcement by the Company to dedicate charitable investment to the next generation of young distillers who might benefit from our support. The first step of the programme has been the creation of “The Business of Spirits”, a Masterclass in partnership with the Institute of Brewing & Distilling.

The first session, held in October at the offices of the WSET, (Wine &Spirit Education Trust) was attended by 18 students all studying the IBD’s Master, Diploma and General Certificate courses. The Masterclass is aimed to complement technical knowledge with a high-level of commercial acumen.

The one-day interactive seminar brought together spirits industry leaders, City analysts and senior industry executives. They shared stories, anecdotes, skills and expertise to explain the elements needed for a Spirits business to succeed in a competitive global market place. Students learnt about global markets, structure and companies, category and consumer segmentation, pricing, finance, and branding and innovation.

The day, of course, included some fun tasting of spirits from around the globe!

We have such rich knowledge, skills and experience in the Livery that it seems only natural it should be shared with the next generation. Our partners are brilliant at teaching distilling, and with our members knowledge we are enriching the curriculum and broadening the students understanding of how business works.

Martin Riley, The Worshipful Company of Distillers

“What a phenomenal experience to hear from people who have actually made it happen “

“The best seminar I have attended since I started my course”

“What a great day”

Students From the day

Many of the IBD members and candidates are in roles where they are either entrepreneurial, if working for themselves, or ‘intrapreneurial’ if working in a product development environment within a larger company. This collaboration with the WCD has provided them with an insight to the commercial acumen needed to support the technical knowledge acquired through our qualifications. It was exciting to hear about the projects that some of these candidates are developing and taking into the market, opening their own distilleries, and bringing to life all of their learning. “The Business of Spirits” has been a great way to provide with extra support to help them succeed in the industry.

Jerry Avis, IBD Chief Executive Officer

The WCD one-day seminars will be rolled out across the country with our educational partners, the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD), The Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) at Herriot Watt University.

The Lord Mayor’s Show

With a history dating back to 1215, the world’s largest and oldest unrehearsed procession, The Lord Mayor’s Show highlights all that is great about the City of London, London as a whole and the UK.

It was our privilege as Liverymen of The Worshipful Company of Distillers to participate in this venerable, global spectacular. Furthermore, it marked the first full day in office of our new Lord Mayor, Vincent Keaveny, himself a Liveryman of our Company.

Left to Right: Sheriff Alison Gowman, Lord Mayor Vincent Keaveny, 692nd Lord Mayor William Russell and Sheriff Nicholas Lyons

The day began early, just after dawn, for the Liverymen who had been chosen to cycle the Wee Toast Tours bike as they collected the bike from Smithfield.

Cyclists at the ready for a hard day’s peddling on the Wee Toast Tours bike

After a breakfast at The Ironmongers’ Hall we assembled. Our ‘hot air balloon’ had been filled with Helium, the bikers were in position and the barrel, to be presented as gift to the new Lord Mayor, was ready to be rolled by Bryan Burrough and Chris Porter, ably supported by Matthew Russell. 

We had all donned our beautifully embroidered aprons, our Mappin & Webb engraved commemorative hipflasks, had been filled by the good works of Messer MacKillop and Szor.

The Master and assembled members of our parade

The pipers of the London Scottish filled their lungs, The Master was in his full regalia, and we were off!

The Band of E>E> Zunft zu Rebleuten are Ready for the Off!

Immediately behind us in the parade were the band of The Zunft zu Rebleuten, the honourable guild of winemakers from Basel and linked to our Company by a friendship of many years.

Rolling the barrel. Chris Porter, Matthew Russell and organiser of the WCD entry to the parade Bryan Burrough

We processed the route passing Guildhall, the Bank of England and then at Mansion House greeted the new lord mayor. He was given the barrel as our gift and the Master led all in procession in a toast from our.

To The New Lord Mayor

This moment was captured by the BBC and it was noted that the Lord Mayor is a Distiller.

Left to Right: Sheriff Alison Gowman, 693rd Lord Mayor Vincent Keaveny, 692nd Lord Mayor William Russell and Sheriff Nicholas Lyons

A very proud moment.

The streets and galleries were packed with families and well-wishers enjoying the Show as we passed many more landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Courts of Justice.

The pipers of London Scottish inspiring the crowds

During a break for lunch we were able to reflect not only on the sense of honour of being a part of such a wonderful event, but also how much fun it was and what a privilege. It was a privilege to be involved and even one esteemed member of our group, Fellow Liveryman and Honorary Chaplain the Rev’d Canon David Parrot, confessed to a certain sense of emotion in walking the route for the first time.

The eye-catching colour of our Livery shown to full effect. There was not a drop of rain!

The return journey to Mansion House took us along the embankment and back into the City to more crowds of flag waving enthusiasts.

The Master saluted Mansion House with a dignified wave of the Master’s cap.

A Proud Moment

As we neared Guildhall, there was a shared sense that not only had we participated in a tremendous event, but that we had added a great deal to it. We knew this from the warm and generous waves and cheers that greeted us as we walked the route, and this was due in a very large part to the expert and dedicated leadership of Past Master Burroughs and the team in planning every detail.

Back at Ironmongers’ Hall, we drank a toast with our friends from the Zunft and all raised a glass to one of our own, the new Lord Mayor, Vincent Keavney.

The Zunft zu Rebleuten our Partners on the Parade


I am delighted to be writing to you now that the inaugural Distillers’ One of One Auction is live online.   The online listings went live on Sotheby’s website on Tuesday 9th November

The auction has been made possible by donations and support from across the whole Scotch Whisky industry and I am truly grateful for the support and generosity that has been shown.    This support has meant that we have been able to curate over 40 lots of some of the rarest and most valuable Scotch whiskies – all with an element of uniqueness that makes them each, truly, a One of One – never to be repeated.     The lots are designed to showcase the excellence in craftsmanship, innovation, and value of Scotch Whisky and I believe that they do that in the most spectacular way.   The low estimate for the lots at auction is £1.2million, which is an extraordinary achievement, and one which will be transformational for our charitable endeavours.

We are hard at work publicising the Auction with the support of PR and social media activity and, we are keen to maximise awareness of the Auction to reach as many potential buyers as possible and ensure that the lots are sold for the highest price that can be achieved on the day.  It is for that reason that I am posting today with two requests, could you please:

Share details of the auction with any contacts, or potential buyers, or collectors that you think might be interested in bidding in the auction and encourage them to register to bid with Sotheby’s.   Details of how that can be done are set out below; and

If you are a social media user (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin) could I ask that you copy and paste the template post (see below) and post this (along with the photo in this post) on your social media account along with the hashtag #Distillers1of1. Social Media will play a key role in promoting the auction and we would be grateful if you could engage with our social media accounts (listed below) by following, sharing posts and posting about the auction yourself. As an example, many of us will have many 100s of contacts on Linkedin and just one post could make all the difference in reaching a potential buyer. 

Thank you again for your continued support

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Driver 

Master 2020 – 2021

Social Media

Template Social Media Post (Please use the photo in your post)

The Distillers’ Charity (the philanthropic arm of The Worshipful Company of Distillers) and Sotheby’s have joined forces to host a series of biennial auctions of ultra-rare and unique Scotch whiskies and experiences under the name “The Distillers One of One”. Proceeds from the One of One auction will benefit the Youth Action Fund, which aims to transform the life chances of young people in Scotland.

Today marks the start of your chance to own one of the ultra-rare and unique Scotch Whiskies and support The Distillers’ Charity. 

Online bidding is now open through the Sotheby’s website:


Social Media Accounts

The Distillers One of One accounts/handles are as follows: 

Instagram: @distillers1of1 

Twitter: @distillers1of1 

Facebook: @distillers1of1


The Gin Guild – Vacancy

Nicolas Cook, the Gin Guild’s Director General (DG), has decided to retire in early 2022 after nearly ten years’ service.  Therefore the Gin Guild Board are now seeking his successor.

The Guild is a vibrant association and the DG is a full time occupation, working from home (also requiring some storage space), continuing to build on the success of the Gin Guild in terms of membership matters, organising events and regulatory control and liaising with the Worshipful Company of Distillers (the Gin Guild’s parent Company).

If you are interested, and would like to learn more about this position, please contact Christopher Hayman and send him a copy of your CV: