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15 Years of The Last Drop: The importance of family

Story | May 10, 2024

“You never know what is coming next: some of the greatest moments in our lives can happen by accident.”

Founded by Tom Jago and James Espey in 2008, their daughters, Rebecca and Beanie, joined The Last Drop Distillers in 2014 – so it’s fair to say that family has always been at the heart of The Last Drop.

To mark our 15th Anniversary we take a look at the influence Rebecca’s parents have had on her, and the legacy she hopes she has handed down to her two children – as well as why The Last Drop’s iconic decanters were given the names Penelope and Phoebe.

CHAMPAGNE COGNAC

What impact did your father, Tom Jago, have on your career?
My parents were a wonderful couple who celebrated 65 years of marriage the year before they both died (2018), and I was lucky to have had so many years with them and to be close both geographically and emotionally. It’s hard to dissect the influences your parents have on you: so many of them are intangible. A nitpicking approach to spelling and grammar? Tick. A passion for language and writing? Tick. An inability to suffer fools gladly? Also a somewhat embarrassed tick. A love for and a deep loyalty to family and friends? A tick with pride.

My father was an extraordinary and perhaps visionary man. But I think his lasting legacy to me, and to my brothers and my children is one of curiosity; of a desire to look round corners and embrace what comes with pleasure and excitement. I was speaking to a group of people the other day, and the theme that kept repeating itself was “you never know what is coming next: some of the greatest moments in our lives can happen by accident”. My father’s entire career was a series of accidents, including Baileys, and my later life career with The Last Drop was another unexpected but delightful twist in my journey through life (so far).

Why did you decide to take on the running of The Last Drop in 2014?
I don’t think either Beanie or I actually decided to take it on: it was rather more innocent and organic than that. We wanted to support our fathers and The Last Drop; we wanted to see what we could do to help the business grow and develop; we wanted to see what was possible. In the end, the changes in our roles came about naturally, due to different life stages and external factors. I’m still surprised every day that I’m doing what I am, and that no-one has found me out yet!

What is your greatest achievement since joining the business?
I am incredibly proud of what we have all achieved together in the last 10 years. But the answer must be that I know how proud Tom and James were and are of what we did and the care we took of The Last Drop, and I hope I continue to do so today!

While your father undoubtedly had a huge impact on you, can you tell us about the influence of your mother?
While my father’s influence is very palpable, in that I continue to manage the business he co-founded, my mother’s influence was no less significant in a myriad of different ways. Penelope instilled in me a love of language, of colour and of singular taste and style. She was by no means a wallflower and, while this could be extremely embarrassing to an awkward teenager, it has given me confidence and self-belief as I’ve aged.

Why were you inspired to name your decanter after your daughter, Phoebe?
Our original decanter was designed as a feature of our pop-up in 2018, when we celebrated our 10th Anniversary. My father attended the event and, as he served himself a glass of Tom’s Blend from the decanter, he remarked that in 65 years of marriage, my mother had never poured him a glass of whisky, so we had to invent a machine to do it for him! This joke resulted in the original (much larger) decanter being named Penelope, after my mother. As a result, when we asked Harvey and John to create a smaller (mark II) version of the decanter, Beanie suggested that we name it after Phoebe, my daughter, as an acknowledgement of the link to the original. And so, Phoebe continues to travel around the world delighting customers everywhere!

What traits do you hope to have passed down to your children, and will they join The Last Drop in due course?
Both my children are academics at the moment: Phoebe works in Latin American Studies at King’s College London, and Freddie is a biochemist working in protein design at the University of Copenhagen. I hope that I’ve instilled in both of them a love of life, of family and friendship, and of celebrating the moments which make life worth living, and the memories that they can make. Certainly, they’re both really wonderful people, and they make me very proud and happy. I don’t think either of them will join The Last Drop, though: however, the business is in extremely safe hands within the Sazerac organisation, and I’m truly confident that the next stage will be even more successful than we are today.

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