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Distillers & Spirit Producers

Booth's Distilleries Ltd.

Distillery

Booth’s Distillers Ltd. (Diageo, Plainfield, Illinois, USA), London, England, UK.

History

Booths were originally wine merchants from around 1569, based in the North East of England. Philip Booth first established their distilling operations in 1740, in London. By the 1800’s the company had numerous distilleries (including farms and a brewery) and was the largest Gin distiller in the UK.

Their Gin was originally known as “House of Lords” and was first produced in 1790, by the Philip Booth’s 3rd and youngest son, Sir Felix Booth (1755 – 1850). Felix Booth served as Sheriff of London & Middlesex and was also a keen philanthropist. His best-known endeavor was funding over 80% of Captain John Ross’s second expedition to find the North West passage during 1829 to 1833 - whilst ultimately unsuccessful, he did successfully locate the Magnetic North Pole. As a direct result of this financial input, parts of Canada are named in relation to Booth: Boothia Isthmus; Boothia Peninsula; Cape Felix; Gulf of Boothia; Port Felix (Nova Scotia); and Sheriff Harbor (Nunavut).

Following this expeditions success, King William IV granted the Gin a royal warrant in 1833. This was used to great marketing success, Booth’s using the motto “King of Gin” and the (Royal) Red Lion as an icon, and in 1859 Felix Booth opened up the Red Lion Distillery in London. On top of the distillery was an 1837 sculptured, red painted lion made of Coade stone (incredibly durable cement like building material, invented by Eleanor Coade). The Red Lion distillery (along with a waterworks building) was finally demolished in 1949 to make way for the Royal Festival Hall, which now dominates the Lambeth South bank of the River Thames. The lion was relocated at street level and today can be found on the south end of Westminster Bridge. The red paint was removed to better display the Coade stone, which still looks like new nearly 200-years later.

The last male heir of the Booth Gin Empire died in 1926 and the business eventually joined the Distillers Company Ltd. (DCL) in 1937. In 1986 Guinness bought DCL, creating United Distillers (UD) a year later. In 1997 UD merged with Grand Metropolitan to create Diageo. Diageo sell in over 180 countries and truly are worldwide. Production of Booth’s Gin in the UK was stopped in 2006 and is now made in Plainfield, Illinois, USA, under contract for Booth's Distilleries of London.

Booth’s Gin is reputed to have been a favorite drink of Queen Elizabeth II, and carried her royal warrant for some time. It is also said to have been a keen favorite of writer Kingslsey Amis, who liked a Pink Gin.

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