Interview: Sean Harrison and Desmond Payne

As if our coverage of Tales of the Cocktail 2009 could get any better! In this very special episode of The Cocktail SPirit with Robert Hess, Robert sits down for an exclusive interview with Sean Harrison, master distiller of Plymouth Gin and Desmond Payne, master distiller of Beefeater and now Beefeater 24. Together they have decades of experience crafting some of the world’s finest gins. And, Robert has about the same amount of experience drinking them!


blair frodelius 20 Jul 2009
5:36 am


Any chance of getting Plymouth Fruit Cup, Plymouth Damson Gin or Plymouth Navy Strength imported into the USA in the next few years?

Desmond, when can we see a wider rollout of Beefeater 24?  I have yet to find a bottle in New York State despite several searches.

Robert,  thanks for this video!  As always, entertaining and enlightening.


Robert Hess 20 Jul 2009
5:47 am

It was a lot of fun getting a chance to meet up with both Desmond and Sean while we were down at Tales of the Cocktail. Hopefully this short interview with two of the most important master gin distillers around provided some insights into who they are and the passion they feel for their products.

Dinah (MetaGrrrl/Bibulous) 20 Jul 2009
9:53 am

We had the pleasure of these two fine gentlemen’s company at a gin pairing dinner at Absinthe Brasserie in San Francisco earlier this year, as well as at the SF Beefeater 24 launch. For more quotes from Mr. Payne, see these posts on

Robert Hess 21 Jul 2009
9:27 am

Blair, I checked with my good friend Simon Ford about your question, who is currently on vacation and unable to access the site at the moment, but he asked me to pass along the following answer:

“Beefeater 24 was launched into New York in May and should be available. Of course for any new product it takes a while to hit the shelves everywhere but if you ask your store manager it is available for him to order so that you can.

“At this stage there is no set plan to launch Navy or Damson in the US. Plymouth is still a reletively small brand and the focus is all on making the core brand a success. With that said because so many of our friends in the bartender community asked for Sloe Gin we brought some in and I suspect you’ll see something simular happen with Navy in the future because the buzz is out there and I am getting asked quite a bit.

“In an ideal world we would have everything available for you and believe it when I say that it is on our minds to do so at some point.”

Ben Alpers 21 Jul 2009
5:04 pm

Thanks for another great episode, Robert!  I had a similar question to Blair’s about Plymouth Sloe Gin.  I know that it’s being shipped into the U.S., but it seems to have a much more limited distribution than Plymouth Gin.  For example, I can get Plymouth Gin here in Oklahoma (wonder of wonders!), but Plymouth Sloe Gin is unavailable here. It also seemed to be unavailable in Minnesota where I was earlier this summer (and Minnesota, which has less restrictive liquor laws, seems to get a lot of liquor that we don’t).  Do you know if Plymouth plans to distribute their Sloe Gin more widely in the US at some point?

Robert Hess 22 Jul 2009
3:59 am

Ben, I’m sure that Plymouth would LOVE to have not just broad distribution of their Sloe Gin, but more importantly, broad sales as well! :->... as it is, they are going slowly (or is that sloe-ly?) both due to limited supplies, but also because there isn’t a lot of demand for Sloe Gin here in the US. In the meantime, Plymouth Sloe Gin is available on here:

PERFUMEKEV 22 Jul 2009
8:29 am

Shoppers Vineyard in Clifton New Jersey sells A-Lot! of Plymouth Sloe Gin They always have it in stock!  ;-)

I belive they ship to most states.

Both companies sould make an old tom gin!

Plymouth Navy Streangth gin is a musthave and should be imported into the US it is quite simply a spectacular gin!

This was a GREAT episode Robert!

Mike S. 25 Jul 2009
7:42 pm

Great interview with two very important figures in the world of gin!  Beefeater, I think, is one of the most underrated liquors (not just gins) here in the US.  It’s simply outstanding, and the new 24 is great too.  And Plymouth, well, it’s just in a class by itself (literally).

I have to say, to the extent we’re taking a vote:  +1 on bringing Plymouth Navy to the US!

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