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Drinks industry mourns loss of Henry Besant

The spirits industry is today mourning the loss of one of London’s leading mixologists Henry Besant, who passed away yesterday following a heart attack.

Henry Besant
Henry Besant: 19 November 1972 – 14 March 2013

Besant was a leading figure in the London drinks industry, having held positions behind some of the city’s finest bars including 57 Jermyn Street, St Martins Lane Hotel and Rockwell Bar at The Trafalgar.

In 2004 he co-founded drinks consultancy Worldwide Cocktail Club along with fellow cocktail enthusiast Dre Masso.

But Besant is perhaps most renowned for his love of Tequila, which led him to co-create the Olmeca Altos brand and launch the Tahona Society with Masso in 2009, which today has more than 1,300 members around the world.

In 2010 he joined forces with Nick Strangeway and Cairbry Hill to create consultancy Strange Hill.

Besant suffered a heart attack whilst on the tube two weeks ago and was hospitalised in a fragile condition. He passed away yesterday aged 40.

“He was always one of the names that came up as someone so enthusiastic in the spirits industry and loving what he did,” said Cleo Rocos, founder of the UK Tequila Society.

“It’s so wrong and hard to accept because he had such a drive and everyone had such a passion for him. He was so charismatic, he evoked such affection from them.”

Olivier Fages, international vice-president of Pernod Ricard Mexico, said: “We are deeply saddened by the untimely death of our friend, Henry Besant.

Henry’s talent, passion and expertise were second-to-none, and we will be forever grateful to him for the outstanding work he did to help Olmeca Tequila, most notably working with our master distiller, Jesus Hernandez, to create Olmeca Altos, a Tequila which we are very proud bears the Olmeca name, as well as his fine work with the Tahona Society, enthusing bartenders the world over about authentic tequila production.

“Henry was not only an industry expert, he was also a charming, intelligent man who will be missed by us all. We will continue to work hard to honour his memory and make Olmeca Altos the global success it deserves to be, thanks in no small part to Henry.”

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