What is The Gin Guild?
The Gin Guild is a subsidiary of the Worshipful Company of Distillers (one of London’s traditional livery companies, incorporated by Royal Charter in 1638). The Gin Guild is an international not for profit member funded gin industry body with key support from the four major gin distilling companies, Bacardi, Diageo, William Grant and Sons and Pernod Ricard.
Aiming to represent the distilled gin industry as a whole, including extensive membership from the wider gin distilling industry, its objectives include promoting the distilled and London gin categories across the globe, enhancing their image and widening its appeal to worldwide consumers.
Bringing together gin distillers and industry leaders involved in the production, promotion, distribution and consumption of distilled gin, the Guild promotes and encourages commitment to excellence in gin distillation and industry custodianship of the spirit category. It is the natural home of gin innovation, including new start-ups and craft distillers and craft distilled gin.
The Guild currently represents around 89% of the UK gin market by volume. Gin Guild members are however international and include those from the UK, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, India, Italy, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Norway, The Czech Republic, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the USA.
Ed Pilkington, the current Grand Rectifier of the Guild (the titular head position taken bi-annually in turn by the four Founder Wardens), said ‘Gin is a wonderful example of how skills are being developed and employed in the craft of distilling. Innovation and experimentation from a new generation of distillers is complementing the established skills and experience of those distillers who have for many years been producing exceptional gins’.
Batch applied for membership of the Gin Guild back in 2015, but one of the entry requirements is that brand owning applicants must have been established for at least two years. At the time Batch had only been making gin for a year, managing production from Ollie’s basement, using a single 25 litre still, so had to wait.
When Nicholas Cook of the Guild contacted Batch last year to enquire whether Batch wanted to join the Guild, they realised that we were now part of the “Gindustry’ (pardon the pun)!
Wednesday, 8 May marked the 2019 Annual Gin Industry Dinner and Guild spring member installation. It was held in the Old Library at Guildhall, the home of the trade Guilds that were established in medieval times. Those Guilds were created to help regulate the crafts and skills of the businesses of the City of London.
The supervisory role of London distillers undertaken by the Worshipful Company of Distillers has of course long been superseded by statutory provisions, but the livery has been involved in the distilling industry since that date, and through its subsidiary, the Gin Guild, promotes and encourages commitment to excellence in gin distillation and industry custodianship of the distilled and London gin category.
The installation of new Guild members involves each member, reflecting traditional guild practice, committing by oath to uphold the principles and obligations of the Guild.
Symbolic of the key role that Juniper plays in gin production, each member, when swearing the oath holds a handful of juniper berries. Those berries by tradition are subsequently taken and form part of a gin distillation known as ‘Palm Gin’, which is available at later installation ceremonies. Phil Whitwell’s review of that gin was that it tasted good with plenty of Juniper and with no sign of sweaty palms.
The installation ceremony was a friendly event which saw new members being sworn in, bringing the total number of members to over 330. Phil Whitwell was sworn in as Warden, the senior brand owning representative, and Head Distiller Ollie Sanderson was sworn in as Warden Nominated Rectifier – the person that actually does the work! Both in turn received the sterling silver juniper sprig, the badge of Guild membership.
Phil and Ollie, along with the other attendees also enjoyed the legendary Gin Guild bar which showcased gins from the Founder wardens along with new products from members from the last 12 months, and gins from members who joined the Guild at the October installation last year as well as those joining that evening.
In celebration of the extraordinary industry achievement of celebrating 250 years of gin production, a team from Gordons provided cocktails and exemplary serves adding additional options for a juniper hungry audience.
All in all, a really great event. An opportunity to catch up with other distillers and chat on all things gin. And a one-off with the installation including twins joining the Guild, Raissa de Hass and Joyce de Hass of the mixer brand double Dutch, who also illustrates that Guild membership includes those from the wider gin industry including botanical suppliers, bottle providers and of course those who actually sell the stuff!