It’s unlikely that you know the name “Hugh Williams”. Yet, as Master Distiller of Tanqueray/Gordon’s, Hugh was instrumental in maintaining the modern London Dry flavor profile until his retirement a few years back. I was lucky enough to work with Hugh while researching my history of gin book (in stores spring 2012!!). Frankly, I could not have written it without his generous and vital input. Hugh schooled me in the essential botanicals from the point-of-view of a distiller, not a textbook. He related stories he had heard about the London Blitz during World War II that left the distillery in ruins and shared his exhaustive, personal research into the history of Gordon’s. He read the chapters on Britain and British gin, offering valuable tweaks and comments.
But enough about his knowledge. I love Hugh for far more reasons than that. Along with being a Master Distiller, he is a home winemaker and gourmet cook; our e-mails would often be exchanges about last night’s dinner (as he says, “I can’t get away from recipes.”) or a new bottle of vino. Anyone who loves food and drink like Hugh is a man to cherish. Further, he is opinionated, as you will see below in his answers; no newfangled products for Hugh, he is an old school gin man through and through. But most of all, he has the most delightful sense of humor I know. Hugh, you are a brilliant teacher, a proper gentleman and a friend.