RSS Feeds

Advanced search

You are in:


Full house expected for global gin debate

Reflecting its 375 year-old relationship with the spirits industry, the Worshipful Company of Distillers’ annual City of London Debate has as its subject this year the resurgence of Gin. Hosted by JP Morgan and chaired by the master distiller, Brian Morrison, four speakers will argue the question: “Is the resurgence of gin driven by the sharpening of the values of established global brands or by a fascination with idiosyncrasy and craft?” A full house of around 200 attendees is expected .

While Tom (the Thinking Drinker) Sandham’s introductory history of Gin may dwell on that well known dire period in London, the other three speakers will ensure the debate is at least as global as last year’s motion on China and its relationship with the rest of Asia. They are: Ed Pilkington, Diageo’s director of gin, vodka and rum; Maurice Doyle, William Grant & Sons’ group marketing director; and Trevor Stirling, beverages analyst with leading City firm, Sanford C Bernstein.

While Pilkington will, no doubt, demonstrate the sheer brilliance of the marketing of Gordons and Tanqueray; and Doyle will seek to show how the values built into Hendrick’s are traditional, but so much better expressed, they are both going to have to address the phenomenon of the multiplicity of new premium brands and, indeed, distilleries.  Stirling, in spite of his vast experience of the spirits industry (or perhaps because of it), may take a more dispassionate view of the marketing in favour of the bottom line.

Following questions from the floor, where the audience is likely to comprise a broad spread from the spirits industry, City, Liverymen and ‘ginophiles’, refreshing gin and something will provide an opportunity to continue the debate informally, as well as to find out more about the Gin Guild, who are hosting a supper after.

The brands available for tasting after the debate will include: Hendrick’s, Beefeater, Beefeater  24, Plymouth, Tanqueray London Dry, Oxley, Bombay East, Haymans, Juniper Green, Palmers, Berry Brothers, Sipsmith, and Whitley Neil.

The Debate
Gin: a tortuous history with a brilliant future?

May 2nd.  6.00 – 8.30 pm. The J P Morgan Suite in the former Prudential building in Holborn, London. (Doors open 5.30) Tickets are free but limited and must be obtained in advance from Kim Lyons, Assistant Clerk, The Worshipful Company of Distillers at or 1, The Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3JT.

The Chairman
The Master Distiller – Brian Morrison, a third generation Morrison of Morrison Bowmore Distillers, retired after 40 years in the family company in 2004. He is a former council member and treasurer of the Scotch Whisky Association, a member of the management committee and a master of the Keepers of the Quaich, and is presently chairman of the Scotch Whisky Liqueur Centre based near Perth.  A liveryman since 1975, his immersion in whisky has never precluded a taste for good gin, especially after a game of golf!

The Speakers
Tom Sandham is author of the World's Best Cocktails, a former editor of drinks magazine Class, and a spirits and cocktails writer for the Times, Spectator, Shortlist, Esquire and Jamie Oliver Magazine. He is the co-creator of the Thinking Drinkers, which delivers live performances and tastings on all things drink. He has performed the acclaimed piece of comedy theatre The Thinking Drinker's Guide to Alcohol at the Edinburgh Festival and in the West End.

Ed Pilkington is currently global category director for vodka, rum and gin for Diageo.  Starting with Guinness in the Caribbean, he sharpened his grooming at L’Oreal before returning to Diageo where he progressed from Innovation in the US to global Malibu based in Amsterdam; from marketing director Australia to Latin America; and then back to Amsterdam for his current role. Throughout all this time gin has been a true passion for Ed – and his drink of choice!  

Maurice Doyle started with Proctor & Gamble then spent 17 years with Bacardi, culminating first as commercial director of Bacardi Brown–Forman Brands in the UK and then as director of Bacardi Global Travel Retail. Since 2009 he has been global marketing director of William Grant & Sons, whose Hendrick’s Gin has always filled him with intense emotions; “initially extreme envy and obsession as a competitor; now unconstrained joy as a brand-builder and as a consumer”.

Trevor Stirling has spent most of his working life in beverage alcohol.  Procter & Gamble, INSEAD and McKinsey led him to Guinness, initially as strategy director and then sales director.   He spent a period running his own private-client wine business in Dublin (he is the proud holder of a WSET Diploma) before moving to London where, in 2004, he joined the US stock-broker Sanford C Bernstein as their European Beverages analyst.

About the Gin Guild
The Gin Guild has been established by the Worshipful Company of Distillers to work with gin distillers from the UK and around the world to provide leadership and focus to the promotion of this exciting spirit category. For more information visit: The Gin Guild website

Image courtesy of Sipsmith


23 April 2013 - Felicity Murray