Since being named top sommelier in the UK, Ronan Sayburn MS has worked in many of the country’s best restaurants, as well as in leading establishments in New York and Tokyo. In 2013, he helped to plan then execute the launch 67 Pall Mall in London as a members’ club for wine enthusiasts and the wine industry. By March 2020, when Covid-19 closed down clubs and restaurants — along with almost every other business sector in Britain — 67 Pall Mall had already become known internationally and builders were working on a new offshoot in Singapore. The decision to launch large numbers of online tastings, however, has helped to build the reputation of the club, and Sayburn, across the world. As well as being wine director of 67 Pall Mall, he is also the current CEO of the European chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers.
MEININGER’S: How did you get into the wine industry?
SAYBURN: I grew up in Scarborough in Yorkshire, and my father was always interested in wine. I’d love to say I sat on his knee and drank my first glass of Petrus when I was four, but his interest was in making it from parsnips and blackberries rather than drinking fine stuff.
When I was at university studying geology, I did summer jobs in catering, got my catering qualifications and got more and more into wine. I remember reading tasting notes and smelling wine and thinking “it’s all bullshit”, then one day reading that barrels could give wine a vanilla character and picking up a glass of Chardonnay and being bowled over because it smelled exactly like creme brulée.