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Beefeater master distiller Desmond Payne appointed MBE

Desmond Payne, master distiller of Chivas Brothers’ Beefeater gin brand, has been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List.

Desmond Payne, front centre, at a party hosted at The Ivy Tower Bridge to mark 50 years in the business

Payne, who was honoured for services to the British gin industry, began his career in 1967 when he joined Seager Evans & Co, the Wine Merchants and Gin Distillers, and went on to work at the company’s Plymouth Gin Distillery for 25 years.

Payne joined Beefeater in 1995 and was later appointed master distiller, a position that he has held since 2005, and in 2008 was responsible for creating the super-premium Beefeater 24, as well as the brand’s top-end Beefeater Burrough’s Reserve.

In 2017, Payne marked his 50th year in the spirits industry in 2017 with an exclusive event at The Ivy Tower Bridge in London.

“I am truly honoured to receive this award,” said Desmond of the award. “It’s a real privilege working at Beefeater and in this industry and to be recognised in this manner is very humbling. I am just thrilled to have been able to witness the remarkable resurgence of this great industry. There have been so many brilliant moments over the years and this industry continues to push the boundaries both in terms of quality and innovation – I’m just delighted to be able to play a part in it.”

Sophie Gallois, managing director of Chivas Brothers’ The Gin Hub, added: “This honour is a real testament to Desmond’s work and the impact he has made on the industry over the past 50 years. His innovative approach and dedication at Beefeater has made him one of the most loved and respected gin distillers in the business.

“There’s no doubt the gin industry has changed significantly over the past five decades and yet Desmond’s passion for the craft has remained constant. He has been at the centre of gin’s resurgence and his expansive knowledge and desire to preserve Beefeater’s high standards has helped to ensure the spirit remains at the forefront of the category.”

Payne joins another veteran of the drinks industry in receiving the honour this year, with the chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, Ian Harris, also appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List. Harris received the commendation in recognition of his services to the wine and spirit industry over the last 40 years.

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