Master distiller Desmond Payne (left) works with stillsman William Hamilton at Beefeater Gin

Desmond on William

I've been distilling gin for the past 40 years and the business has undergone a lot of change over that time, particularly in the past two or three years for Beefeater.

We have refurbished the distillery and ploughed a lot of investment into the brand recently. William has played a huge part in all that.

I first met him when I interviewed him for a temporary role in 2004. He really stood out from the crowd and when he started it was obvious we'd made a good choice.

When we lost two of our distillers when they retired, it was an obvious move for him to join us full-time and he has been with us ever since.

William acts as a catalyst to the business - he really makes thing happen - but his best quality is undoubtedly his integrity. He tells me if he's not entirely happy with something, especially if it may compromise the quality of the gin. Our paths cross at work all the time, as we have to discuss the day-to-day running of the distillery, spirit quality, stock levels, holidays plans and so on. We get on really well and I trust him implicitly to do the job when I am not there.

William on Desmond

I applied for the job after I was made redundant from an electric bulb factory. I know the office administrator here and she told me there was a job going, so I came in and met Desmond.

I was incredibly nervous as I'd been making light bulbs for the past 20 years and this looked far more challenging and involved. I've never regretted it, though. I love this job, I never get back from holiday and think 'Oh no, work tomorrow!' I look forward to it most days and I still enjoy what I do here day-to-day.

A lot of that is down to Desmond. He's great to work for, very polite and knowledgeable, and has been a very good teacher. We never argue - it probably helps that we are quite similar in temperament.

I don't think having a shouting match fits in with either of our characters, really. It's a small team here, so it's vital we all get on. We are just about to employ a new person, in fact, so the next challenge for us will be to integrate them into the team. It will be nice to see some new blood coming into the company.