PROFILE PIECE: RORY PAYNE
Rory Payne, Masons’ resident flavour expert has arguably one of the most interesting jobs in the business. Having only joined Masons in the last 7 months, Rory has already had a huge impact in the launch of our first three gins in our Special Edition range.
We were keen to find out more. And he certainly didn’t disappoint us.
Originally from the South (we’ll let him off), Rory fell in love with the drinks industry after starting his very first job working behind a bar. He went on to study at Heriot-Watt university where he focused on his Masters in Brewing and Distilling with Entrepreneurship. We’re impressed already.
After qualifying, Rory worked in the pharmaceuticals industry for a time but soon came back to the world of alcohol production, heading up production at a brewery.
You used to be a Head Brewer – how different is brewing to distilling?
“There is a lot more cleaning in the Brewing world! And a lot more managing yeast! Also the beer at the end has a much shorter shelf life so it’s a continual game of predicting sales months before manufacturing.
I enjoyed the brewing world a lot, but the clean world of distilling is a nice place to be and I get to spend my days playing with flavour which is what I love doing. Experimenting with gin flavours seems like the perfect place to be.”
You have arguably the coolest job in Masons – what does the day to day of a Research Distiller look like?
“Yes, I do have one of the best jobs at Masons! I’m currently in the process of constructing the Masons Botanical library which is exciting. I’m cataloguing flavours and the best way to extract those flavours from the botanicals. It involves a lot of testing and a lot of tasting – a terrible job but someone has to do it…
The best part of my job is that I make a product people really enjoy and are really passionate about. It’s really rewarding when people like the product that you make.”
As well as making the Masons core range of gins, you’re also responsible for creating new products and Special Editions for the business. How do you go about coming up with new ideas?
“Ideas are always hard to pinpoint where they come from. In producing the botanical library, I’m always coming across new flavour and combination ideas and this really helps for inspiration.
With the Special Edition Raspberry gin, this was obviously a flavour that had been done many times before by lots of other people, but we wanted to do it differently. We wanted it to be totally distilled and clear and with no syrups or flavourings added. This made it much more challenging to actually get the flavour of the raspberries. In the end we had to distil part of the flavour using cold distillation in order to get the real freshness of the raspberries and we had to do a low ABV distillation to get the body of the raspberry flavour. It was a lot of work but totally worth it!”
Tell us about your personal life – what are your hobbies?
“I like to keep busy, and I love to be outside. I have climbed since I was young and I try to get out whenever I can, I’m excited to do more climbing in Yorkshire if the weather is ever nice.
I also like to make things and do a bit of soap making in my spare time, the sensory aspect ties nicely into gin making. On top of that I like to bake my own bread which lets me play with some yeast and reminds me of my past work as a brewer.”
What does your ideal Sunday look like (not restricted by COVID of course!)
“On a beach in the sun would be nice! But more realistically outside somewhere discovering something new, maybe climbing a bit and getting a bit lost hopefully with a little sun.”
And lastly, how do you drink your Masons at home?
“I spend all day at work thinking about how gin tastes and evaluating the flavour so at home it is straight out of the bottle, into a glass, ice, tonic, whatever fruit is around (if any) and down the hatch!”
Thanks Rory – down the hatch indeed!