Desmond Payne to step down as Beefeater master distiller
Beefeater Gin master distiller Desmond Payne MBE will step down in January and become the brand’s the first master distiller emeritus.
Payne has spent 27 years with Pernod Ricard-owned Beefeater Gin, and has held the position of master distiller since 2008.
He has spent the past 55 years in gin making, and will be stepping back from the day-to-day production. Payne will focus on judging international gin competitions and hosting VIP experiences for the gin brand.
He said: “My whole career, but particularly at Beefeater, has been a great privilege.
“I have travelled the world, enjoyed a Gibson or Martini in some of the world’s best bars and most importantly, met people who are the very best at what they do. Beefeater has always been known for innovation and I am grateful this new chapter will allow me to keep a watchful eye on what this new era has in store.
“Beefeater really is a remarkable gin, made by hugely talented people, in the best city in the world – London.”
The new head distiller is yet to be announced, with the role to be supported by Payne’s original distillery team.
Murielle Dessenis, global brand director for Beefeater, commented: “This new title bestowed upon Desmond is a testament to his unique and immense contribution to Beefeater and the wider drinks industry.
“This is the first time in the brand’s history there has ever been a master distiller emeritus and this title has been granted as a tribute to Desmond’s lifetime service.
“Beefeater is still the world’s most awarded gin because Demond has been a once-in-a-lifetime custodian of its quality, heritage and unchanged recipe inherited from James Burrough all those years ago. Thank you Desmond.”
In 2018, Payne was made a member of the order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the UK gin industry.
Following 25 years in charge of production at Plymouth Gin, Payne moved onto a career with Beefeater in 1995, and was named master distiller in 2008.
He has since overseen the creation of Beefeater 24, Burrough’s Reserve Editions 1 and 2, both the Winter and Summer Edition bottlings, London Market, London Garden, Monday’s Gin and the Botanics gin.
To celebrate the news, Payne is bringing back ‘classic’ expression Beefeater Crown Jewel.