The Scottish Whisky Awards judging panel is an independently appointed panel. 

Thank you to the 2019 Judging Panel for their commitment and contribution to the competition.
 

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    Alan Wolstenholme CHAIR OF THE JUDGING PANEL

    Alan is an Honorary Professor of Heriot Watt University’s International Centre of Brewing and Distilling, Chairman of the Scottish Distillers Association, Master Distiller Examiner for The Institute...
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    Alan is an Honorary Professor of Heriot Watt University’s International Centre of Brewing and Distilling, Chairman of the Scottish Distillers Association, Master Distiller Examiner for The Institute of Brewing and Distilling and one of the longest serving Keepers of the Quaich.

    Alan is Founder and Managing Director of Caledonian Solutions Limited and is a consultant to the Scotch Whisky, International Whiskey, and similar process industries. He works with clients in the USA, Ireland and the Far East as well as the UK.

    Alan entered the spirits industry, after leaving University, with Distillers Company Ltd. (now Diageo) and gained experience in a variety of technical and production management roles across Scotland.

    He is the former Distilleries Director for Wm. Grant and Sons operating both a large Grain Whisky (Girvan) and several Malt Whisky distilleries (Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie) with responsibility for sourcing all raw materials and processing them into distilled products (Malt and Grain Whisky, Grain Neutral Spirit and Gin), and also cooperage, maturation and blending.

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    Alan Wolstenholme

    CHAIR OF THE JUDGING PANEL
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    Mike Aikman TASTE JUDGE

    Mike is a Scottish bartender turned bar owner who fell in love with the industry during travelling the World in 2000-2001. A Qualified Software Engineer to trade prior to taking a year out, he has never...
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    Mike is a Scottish bartender turned bar owner who fell in love with the industry during travelling the World in 2000-2001. A Qualified Software Engineer to trade prior to taking a year out, he has never left the hospitality Industry since.

    Upon returning to Edinburgh in 2001, Mike worked in some of the best Cocktail focused bars in the city, with an eye on one day opening his own venue. From Blue Bar (owned by the Radfords, who now own Timberyard) to Oloroso (owned by Tony Singh). He then helped launch The Gallery Restaurant & Bar in the National Gallery of Scotland, and then moved into a Bar Manager role at Opal Lounge (Montpeliers). Mike was a Trainer for Bacardi Rums in Scotland following this and started doing events to fill in the gaps, which is when he met Jason Scott, his business partner.

    Events/consultancy company Mothership (Scotland) Ltd was incorporated in 2005 with one eye on opening a bar in the future. Mothership has consulted, advised and operated several high profile events over the years including bars for a Royal Wedding, The Golf Open multiple times and training and consultancy for some of Scotland’s best bars and restaurants.

    In 2006 the Mothership Team opened our own bar, Bramble, followed by The Saint (a gastropub) in 2009, which we eventually closed in 2012 and re-opened as The Last Word, focusing more on cocktails. Our third bar Lucky Liquor Co opened in 2013, also in Edinburgh.

    All 3 bars have won various awards, most notably Bramble (consistently placing in Drinks International Worlds 50 Best Bars, Best Bar in Observer Food Monthly Awards etc).

    Mike himself won “Innovator of The Year” in Imbibe Magazine’s ‘Personality of The Year Awards 2016’, alongside friend, collaborator and old Bramble alumni Ryan Chetiyawardana (AKA Mr Lyan).

    Since 2014, Mothership have been focused on releasing several of our own products, which now include the following:

    - SeaWolf, Scotland’s first White Rum

    - Cross Brew: a coffee liqueur with ‘New Make’ Whisky as a base

    - Braemble, a blackberry liqueur, made with London Dry Gin

    - Lucky Liqueurs - a range of diverse liqueurs for the cocktail market

    - Bramble Whisky Co, which is an exclusive range of single cask Scotch Whiskies

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    Mike Aikman

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Jon Beach TASTE JUDGE

    Fiddler’s Highland Restaurant & Whisky Bar, Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness. Over the past two decades Jon has built Fiddler’s up into a busy restaurant with an award-winning Malt Whisky selection...
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    Fiddler’s Highland Restaurant & Whisky Bar, Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness.

    Over the past two decades Jon has built Fiddler’s up into a busy restaurant with an award-winning Malt Whisky selection collecting four SLTN awards on the way. Three years ago a Craft Beer and Spirit bar was added next door specialising in locally-brewed beers and the best of Scotland’s Gins and Craft Spirits.

    When not in Fiddler’s Jon is often found travelling around Scotland and beyond searching for the best and the rarest Whiskies for his bar.

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    Jon Beach

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Anne-Sophie Bigot TASTE JUDGE

    Based in France (Toulouse), Anne-Sophie Bigot, better known as "The Whisky Lady" has been documenting her journey through the fascinating world of whisky via her blog thewhiskylady.net and on her different...
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    Based in France (Toulouse), Anne-Sophie Bigot, better known as "The Whisky Lady" has been documenting her journey through the fascinating world of whisky via her blog thewhiskylady.net and on her different social media channels (Instagram: @the_whisky_lady). Anne-Sophie's mission is to remove the dusty cliché that whisky is only "an old man's drink" by bringing a much-needed breathe of fresh air to the world of spirits. Her motto "more fun, less geekery!"

    She launched her blog in 2013, then embarked a few years later on an entrepreneurial challenge as a freelance whisky consultant & writer. She had also worked as an expert whisky auctioneer for a number of years before opening her own specialist whisky bar in Toulouse, The Hopscotch Pub & Brewery, in 2017. She also organises the annual Toulouse Whisky Festival whisky festival, bringing more than 70 worldwide distilleries to the South-west of France.

    Her debut book with French editor Larousse is to be published late 2019.

    Anne-Sophie also judges in the World Whiskies Awards and is a contributor for specialised magazine Whisky Quarterly.

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    Anne-Sophie Bigot

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Blair Bowman TASTE JUDGE

    Blair Bowman is an in demand whisky writer and consultant specialising in Scotch whisky. His book The Pocket Guide to Whisky: featuring the WhiskyTubeMap was published in May 2017. He is passionate about...
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    Blair Bowman is an in demand whisky writer and consultant specialising in Scotch whisky.

    His book The Pocket Guide to Whisky: featuring the WhiskyTubeMap was published in May 2017. He is passionate about introducing the world to whisky and has been involved in the whisky industry since he was of legal drinking age, firstly as a co-founder of a whisky society and latterly as the founder of World Whisky Day.

    Blair has been actively promoting whisky for over eight years, writing professionally about it as well as sitting on judging panels at competitions and tasting panels. He now acts as a consultant to the whisky industry on a wide variety of matters. 

    In addition to his passion and involvement with whisky, Blair also regularly hosts gin masterclasses across Scotland.  He has also judged international spirits and gin competitions such as the Denver International Spirits Competition and is passionate about championing Scottish craft gins.

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    Blair Bowman

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Kevin Boyd BUSINESS JUDGE

    Kevin has over 38 years’ experience in Financial Services, covering all aspects of banking and corporate finance. He has held various senior leadership positions in corporate and commercial banking...
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    Kevin has over 38 years’ experience in Financial Services, covering all aspects of banking and corporate finance. He has held various senior leadership positions in corporate and commercial banking and is currently Managing Director of Shawbrook Bank in Scotland, where he and his team are focused on providing specialist finance solutions to SMEs across Scotland.

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    Kevin Boyd

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Dave Broom TASTE JUDGE

    Dave Broom was born in Glasgow and has spent his whole working life in the world of drink, from a whisky bottling line, to a wine merchant, a craft brewer’s pub, drinks trade writing, and Australian...
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    Dave Broom was born in Glasgow and has spent his whole working life in the world of drink, from a whisky bottling line, to a wine merchant, a craft brewer’s pub, drinks trade writing, and Australian wineries, before finally, in 1995, becoming a writer specialising in spirits.

    Since then, he has written regularly about all spirit categories. Of his twelve books, two: ‘Drink: Never Mind the Peanuts’ and ‘Rum’ won the Glenfiddich award. His Whisky: The Manual was awarded Best Spirits Book at the Spirited Awards in 2015 and the ‘World Atlas of Whisky’ has been called “a landmark publication”. His most recent book, “The Way of Whisky: A Journey into Japanese Whisky’ appeared in 2017.

    He is chief engineer for the go-to online site scotchwhisky.com, and writes for a large number of international titles.

    Around half of his time is spent teaching and talking. He also designs in-house training courses for distillers and was one of the team which developed (and continue to maintain) the Single Malt Flavour Map.

    In 2013 he was awarded the Communicator of the Year at the ISWC awards and in 2015 was voted Best Spirits Writer at the Spirited Awards. He is a Master of the Quaich and a Kentucky Colonel.

    He lives in Hove, England with his wife and daughter, a menagerie of animals and works in an office filled with stones, bones, and vinyl.

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    Dave Broom

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Ryan Chetiyawardana TASTE JUDGE

    Ryan Chetiyawardana (A.K.A Mr Lyan) has been involved in several of the World's best bars for over fifteen years. He helped take the last six of these onto national and international titles and all featured...
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    Ryan Chetiyawardana (A.K.A Mr Lyan) has been involved in several of the World's best bars for over fifteen years. He helped take the last six of these onto national and international titles and all featured in the ‘World's Best Bars’ list for 50 Best, and in 2018, Dandelyan was named “World’s Best Bar”. He has been named UK bartender of the Year twice and in 2015 was named ‘International Bartender of the Year’. He helps design and judge several notable national and international competitions whilst acting as a mentor to competitors, and helping shape the new wave of competitions. Aside from cocktail and bar competitions Ryan has been a judge for the GQ Food & Drinks Awards, the Guild of Food Writer’s awards, and the Fortnum & Mason Food & Drinks Awards.

    Mr Lyan has three new venues for 2019, two of which are overseas. Lyaness was the first to open this year and replaced Dandelyan (the reigning worlds best bar 2018). This will be closely followed by the launch of Super Lyan- relocated to Amsterdam and set to open mid April. Silver Lyan is the last of the three for 2019, appearing in Washington D.C towards of the end of year.

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    Ryan Chetiyawardana

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Colin Church BUSINESS JUDGE

    Colin launched Big Red Teapot Ltd in July 2008 with friend and business partner, Martin Luney and has gone from strength to strength - encompassing Hamilton’s Bar and Kitchen, Treacle, The Blackbird,...
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    Colin launched Big Red Teapot Ltd in July 2008 with friend and business partner, Martin Luney and has gone from strength to strength - encompassing Hamilton’s Bar and Kitchen, Treacle, The Blackbird, Big Red Events and recently purchased their first freehold – The Voyage of Buck, in Edinburgh’s West End.

    Their individual approach to design, cocktails and food has allowed the group to win a number of prestigious awards including young entrepreneur of the year, various Scottish food and drink awards and two Scottish style awards – twice winning most stylish bar in Scotland, a feat never before achieved.

    Ever focused on supporting the drinks industry in Edinburgh – Colin is a director of the West End BID, was instrumental at the global tales of the cocktail showcase held in Edinburgh and is very much recognised as a driver for small businesses across the city Outside the drinks industry, Colin is an experienced skier, a successful golfer, husband to fellow entrepreneur, Sarah and proud dad to two cats – Flash and Ollie.

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    Colin Church

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Marc Crothall BUSINESS JUDGE

    Appointed as the first CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) Marc has been at its helm since its inception in 2012. He is responsible for the day to day operations and leadership of the organisation...
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    Appointed as the first CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) Marc has been at its helm since its inception in 2012. He is responsible for the day to day operations and leadership of the organisation which is the overarching tourism industry trade body and acknowledged as being “The lead representative voice of Scotland’s Tourism Industry”.

    The STA has under its umbrella of membership circa 70% of the c20,000 tourism facing business that operate length and breadth of the country. The organisation are lead strategic guardians and co-ordinators of Scotland’s national tourism Strategy Tourism Scotland 2020 (TS2020).      The STA are also the joint lead with sister trade body Scotland Food and Drink of Scotland’s first Food Tourism Strategy and Marc chairs the National Food Tourism Leadership Board

    Marc is a member of the Tourism Leadership Group (TLG) that has shaped and now steers Tourism Scotland 2020 (TS2020), He chairs the strategy sub steering group that is charged with leading the development of the national tourism strategy action plan beyond TS2020. He is also the industry representative on the Scottish Government’s High- Level Tourism Working Group (TWG) chaired by the Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP.

    Marc also Chairs the STA Industry Council is a member of the UK Government’s Scottish Business Task Force,   and is an advisory board member of Springboard Scotland, and a board member of Interface

    Prior to taking up his post with the STA Marc spent 35+ years working in the front line of the Hospitality, Event, Sport & Leisure industries across the globe for both large high profile multinational organisations such as Gilbey’s (South Africa), Sheraton Hotels, Compass Group,   The Tussauds Group (now Merlin), Amadeus, Whitbread, David Lloyd Leisure and some leading medium and small rural hotel business’ too.

    He believes whole heartedly that “Tourism is Everyone’s Business” and that providing great experiences, investing in people, technology and service quality are the essential ingredients to making Scotland’s visitor economy thrive and prosper in the way it does.

    His passion is rugby and he is a lover of all things Scottish, especially his Glaswegian wife, his five Scottish born children 27yrs to twins of 10 and the nation’s food and drink!

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    Marc Crothall

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Davin de Kergommeaux TASTE JUDGE

    Davin de Kergommeaux is independent whisky expert, who has been writing about, talking about, and teaching about whisky for two decades. His book, Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Edition, second edition,...
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    Davin de Kergommeaux is independent whisky expert, who has been writing about, talking about, and teaching about whisky for two decades. His book, Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Edition, second edition, was published in October 2017 on the Appetite by Random House imprint. Davin is the founder and chairperson of the Canadian Whisky Awards. He lives in Canada and writes full time. Find him on social media @Davindek.

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    Davin de Kergommeaux

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Rosemary Gallagher BUSINESS JUDGE

    Rosemary Gallagher is an experienced journalist and communications professional, with a passion for Scotch whisky. She worked for the Scotch Whisky Association for more than six years and in her role as...
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    Rosemary Gallagher is an experienced journalist and communications professional, with a passion for Scotch whisky.

    She worked for the Scotch Whisky Association for more than six years and in her role as head of communications, raised the profile of the trade body and the wider industry.

    She has worked in journalism and PR in London and Scotland for more than 20 years, including roles as personal finance editor of The Scotsman and business news editor at Scotland on Sunday. She currently freelances for a range of titles, including The Times, Sunday Times, The Scotsman and Insider. She is also a director (part time) with Muckle Media PR in Edinburgh.

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    Rosemary Gallagher

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Gordon Galloway BUSINESS JUDGE

    Gordon Galloway is an entrepreneur and serial investor in early stage ventures in Scotland. He has successfully developed and exited a number of high profile, technology disrupting companies including...
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    Gordon Galloway is an entrepreneur and serial investor in early stage ventures in Scotland. He has successfully developed and exited a number of high profile, technology disrupting companies including Data Discoveries, Mobiqa and DryLube.

    After his initial training as a Civil Engineer, he moved into the packaging sector. He was CEO of Reed Packaging in Scotland and developed a close association with the spirits sector providing class leading solutions to their supply chain.

    Gordon was part of the management group who executed the largest MBO in UK history at the time to buy the Reed Manufacturing Group which was subsequently sold to SCA of Sweden before ending his corporate career with SCA as Marketing Director.

    He is a passionate supporter of economic, company and product development in Scotland and many seek, and some have benefited, from his sage advice. (Only outside of the sailing season!)

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    Gordon Galloway

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Jan Groth TASTE JUDGE

    Jan is currently consulting for a new group in Norway who are building a whisky-distillery on the island of Fedje, outside the town of Bergen. Feddie Distillery is planned to open in June 2019. After leaving...
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    Jan is currently consulting for a new group in Norway who are building a whisky-distillery on the island of Fedje, outside the town of Bergen.

    Feddie Distillery is planned to open in June 2019.

    After leaving the bartender-world for the whisky industry in the late nineties, Jan worked closely with several brands underneath the Allied Domecq umbrella, and when they were split, he then looked after the Diageo Nordics whisky-portfolio.

    With a particular interest in new categories and technics in the industry, Jan had the opportunity to work for the recently founded Box/ Highcoast Distillery, and stayed with them for five years, mainly to build their flavor profile and creating a net around the brand worldwide.

    In 2016 he sat down with friends from Box/ Highcoast, Dave Broom and Ingvar Ronde, to create the concept, World Whisky Forum. The first conference was held at Box Distillery 2017.

    The conference then moved to England, and Cotswolds distillery summer 2018. The next event will be held at the Westland distillery in Seattle.

    Jan is also an acclaimed author and has written two books on whisky and food pairing.

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    Jan Groth

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Justine Hazlehurst TASTE JUDGE

    Justine Hazlehurst is the founder of Kask Whisky, a whisky events company based in Edinburgh organising regular tastings and tours. Justine has recently started the Leith Whisky Trail; walking tours, focusing...
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    Justine Hazlehurst is the founder of Kask Whisky, a whisky events company based in Edinburgh organising regular tastings and tours. Justine has recently started the Leith Whisky Trail; walking tours, focusing on the history of the brokers, blenders and bottlers once resident in the area which culminate in a tasting of some ‘blast from the past’ drams all evoking the nostalgia of Leith as a thriving whisky district. Having worked in Fife for many years before giving up her teaching career to pursue her passion to work in the world of whisky, her love of the Kingdom has led her to set up the Fife Whisky Trail as well as jointly establishing the annual Fife Whisky Festival. In addition to writing for her own blog, Justine is a regular contributor to Malt, offering honest opinions and reviews of whisky.

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    Justine Hazlehurst

    TASTE JUDGE
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    David Johnston BUSINESS JUDGE

    David Johnston is a journalist by trade working in radio and newspapers and leaving the media after a number of years as Managing Director of Radio Forth. Since then he has been involved in a number of...
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    David Johnston is a journalist by trade working in radio and newspapers and leaving the media after a number of years as Managing Director of Radio Forth. Since then he has been involved in a number of businesses both hands on and as an Angel investor. David was one of the original backers of the buy out of the closed down Bruichladdich Distillery, has an interest in a brewing and distilling business based on the Isle of Colonsay where he has had a holiday home for a number of years. His business portfolio also includes non drinks related businesses in finance and technology. Leisure is found in sailing and walking, often in the company of his first grandchild.

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    David Johnston

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Eric Kozlik TASTE JUDGE

    Eric Kozlik is a spirits and cocktail educator, podcaster, and entrepreneur. Based in Washington, DC, he is the CEO of Modern Bar Cart and the creator of The Essential Tasting Journal for Spirits &...
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    Eric Kozlik is a spirits and cocktail educator, podcaster, and entrepreneur. Based in Washington, DC, he is the CEO of Modern Bar Cart and the creator of The Essential Tasting Journal for Spirits & Cocktails. He also hosts The Modern Bar Cart Podcast, a weekly home bartending show dedicated to advancing the craft of mixology. Eric's past judging roles include the American Distilling Institute's annual judging of craft spirits.

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    Eric Kozlik

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Darren Leitch TASTE JUDGE

    Darren has worked for The Whisky Shop since his late teens back in 1997 and managed their stores in Inverness and in Edinburgh very soon after he began. Darren is now National Retail Manager for the full...
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    Darren has worked for The Whisky Shop since his late teens back in 1997 and managed their stores in Inverness and in Edinburgh very soon after he began. Darren is now National Retail Manager for the full estate, which has grown to 20 shops from Inverness in the North to Brighton in the South and covers most major cities in between. The Whisky Shop in Paris is now in its 4th year. As well as managing the retail side of the business Darren selects all of the single cask and exclusive whiskies, including for their own label, Glenkeir Treasures. At any given time they will usually stock around 80 exclusive products. Darren hosts several tasting events on behalf of the company, from his base in Edinburgh and also around our various branches. Loch Fyne Whiskies is also part of their group and Darren gets involved with creating some of their exclusive range as well, in particular the blending of the Loch Fyne Living Cask.

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    Darren Leitch

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Steven Lin TASTE JUDGE

    Steven started his journey of whisky thirty years ago by having his first whisky bar and he founded a community “Whisky Master School” in 2006 while sharing more than 500 articles about whisky...
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    Steven started his journey of whisky thirty years ago by having his first whisky bar and he founded a community “Whisky Master School” in 2006 while sharing more than 500 articles about whisky and hosting whisky tasting events monthly. He was inducted as a Keeper in 2008. He studies, enjoys, teaches whisky everyday for thirty years and still is very passionate about it. He co-published“Whisky 100” in 2009, published“Spirit Food Paring 100+” in 2010, “A Journey of Seeking Your Own 12 Apostles- How Whisky Makes The Exploration So Wonderful” in 2016. He has been a judge for IWSC HK yearly since 2010. He transformed to be a youtuber in 2017 and has published more than 100 episodes about whisky. He was invited to be a board member of DWA (Diageo Whisky Academy) in China. He also was granted the Knight in a French wine region in 2012 and Armagnac Musketeer in 2018. Till now, he still travels a lot from city to city to give speeches and educate people to build their tastes of whisky. Steven is indubitably the key opinion leader in Mandarin-speaking areas.

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    Steven Lin

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Mike Lord TASTE JUDGE

    Mike Lord is genuinely passionate about whisky. He has always loved whisky but it was a visit to Speyside for Hogmanay that created his real passion for single malt and the Speyside region. Mike gave up...
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    Mike Lord is genuinely passionate about whisky. He has always loved whisky but it was a visit to Speyside for Hogmanay that created his real passion for single malt and the Speyside region. Mike gave up his career in the City to pursue his love of whisky full time and in 2006 he bought The Whisky Shop Dufftown and has made it a world renowned business. Like his shop, Mike is truly independent. He loves to bring out the fun and excitement of sampling whisky from the first to the last drop. Mike is a Keeper of the Quaich and a lifetime ambassador of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

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    Mike Lord

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Viktorija Macdonald BUSINESS JUDGE

    Viktorija Macdonald is involved in numerous aspects of the whisky industry, from being the first to internationalise the Whisky Ambassador programme to Lithuania, co-founding the Mòr Whisky Club,...
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    Viktorija Macdonald is involved in numerous aspects of the whisky industry, from being the first to internationalise the Whisky Ambassador programme to Lithuania, co-founding the Mòr Whisky Club, operating in Oran Mòr, Glasgow, co-organising whisky festivals and whisky tasting events in the Baltic States and several EU countries, to single-handedly developing 12 whisky export markets for 9 Scottish whisky companies in EU, Japan, Panama and CIS territories.

    She is a member of the Judging Panel in Oran Mòr Whisky Awards, organised in collaboration with the Dram Magazine, and she is the co-owner of the Dram Mòr Whisky brand. Her mission is to contribute to the successful growth of the Scotch whisky category, both nationally and abroad, starting with training, whisky menu, cocktail and niche market development, finishing with large scale and national event organisation. She used to co-organise Robert Burns Supper events in collaboration with the British Embassy and British Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania.

    She holds two Master Degrees: one in English Language and Literature (Vilnius University of Education Science, Lithuania)  and second in International Marketing (Vilnius University, Lithuania).  She initiated and developed first ever Lithuania’s International Tourism Management Programme, for double degree award in collaboration with Finnish, Italian and British universities, which showcases Scottish whisky industry as the key part of Scottish destination branding. She also holds an award from the Duke of Edinburgh for fostering relations and entrepreneurship in public sector between Lithuania and Scotland (2006).

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    Viktorija Macdonald

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Charles MacLean TASTE JUDGE

    Charles MacLean is a writer whose special subject is Scotch whisky, about which he has published ten books to date, including the standard work on whisky brands, Scotch Whisky and the leading book on its...
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    Charles MacLean is a writer whose special subject is Scotch whisky, about which he has published ten books to date, including the standard work on whisky brands, Scotch Whisky and the leading book on its subject, Malt Whisky, both of which were short-listed for Glenfiddich Awards.

    Whisky: A Liquid History, published by Cassell in 2003 was named Wine and Spirit Book of the Year (2005) by the James Beard Foundation of New York. MacLean’s Whisky Miscellany followed in 2004, expanded in 2006 as Whisky Tales; in 2008 he was Managing Editor of Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness Companion to Whisky, and in 2009 their World Whiskies.Whiskypedia was published in June 2009.

    He was trained in ‘the sensory evaluation of potable spirits’ by the Scotch Whisky Research Institutein 1992 and has presented numerous tastings and talks in the U.K. and abroad for whisky companies, corporations, universities and clubs, and on radio and TV. He is a member of the Judging Panel (Spirits) of the International Wines & Spirits Competition, and was runner-up as ‘Communicator of the Year’ in the 2003 IWSC Awards.

    Charles MacLean is Scotland’s leading whisky expert” The Times, March 2010
    He acts as a consultant to the whisky industry on a variety of matters, and over the past 20 years has written promotional materials for all the leading companies and brands. He is also Whisky Consultant to Bonhams Auctioneers.

    He was elected a Keeper of the Quaich  in 1992 for ‘his services to Scotch over many years’ and granted the rare honour of being elected Master of the Quaich, the industry’s highest accolade, in October 2009.

    He holds degrees in Art History (St Andrews) and Law (Dundee), is a Writer to Her Majesty’s Signet, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, a Visiting Lecturer to the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, an Honorary Fellow of Massey College, University of Toronto and of Champlain College, University of Trent, a Councillor of the Clan Maclean and a member of the Society of Authors.

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    Charles MacLean

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Angus MacRaild TASTE JUDGE

    Angus MacRaild is an independent whisky writer and consultant based in Leith, Edinburgh. He contributes regularly to scotchwhisky.com and whiskyfun.com as well as multiple print publications. He is a member...
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    Angus MacRaild is an independent whisky writer and consultant based in Leith, Edinburgh. He contributes regularly to scotchwhisky.com and whiskyfun.com as well as multiple print publications. He is a member of the tasting panel at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and a co-founder of the Whisky Show Old & Rare. He is considered one of the world's leading authorities on rare and old style Scotch whisky.

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    Angus MacRaild

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Stuart McCluskey TASTE JUDGE

    Stuart McCluskey is the Founder and Director of the Bon Vivant Group in Edinburgh; a hospitality group launched in 2008 which is focussed on sharing Stuart’s passion for excellent local produce and...
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    Stuart McCluskey is the Founder and Director of the Bon Vivant Group in Edinburgh; a hospitality group launched in 2008 which is focussed on sharing Stuart’s passion for excellent local produce and outstanding customer service. The group currently consists of four bar/restaurants (The Bon Vivant, The Devil's Advocate, Lady Libertine and the The Register Club); two casual dining venues (El Cartel Old Town and New Town) and a bottle shop in the form of The Bon Vivant's Companion.

    As a key figure in the Scottish hospitality scene, Stuart is part of the judging panel for the illustrious World’s 50 Best Bars as well as Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards and most recently has been inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich for his commitment to the Scotch Whisky Industry. Having dedicated so much of his career to showcasing the very best of Scottish food and drink, he is keen to share this passion with the next generation and in 2016 he was one of the founding members of ‘The 100’; a collective of the top industry professionals in Scotland.

    Hailing from nearby Fife, Stuart studied Applied Chemistry at Edinburgh University and it was here he fell in love with the city and its thriving bar and restaurant scene. His introduction to the hospitality industry came via a student job in the Stockbridge area, and from that point on he was hooked. Making a conscious effort to gain as varied an experience as possible he had a stint with the national chain Browns through which he gained exposure to large-scale operations then a job at David Ramsden’s Rogue restaurant helped develop his appreciation of fine dining and good wine and finally the chance to help launch the erstwhile Circus Café enabled him to indulge his creative side. Taking his passion abroad, Stuart spent two and a half years working in bars in Sydney and Melbourne to hone his skills, before returning to the UK as the Brand Ambassador for Martin Miller’s Gin, where he focussed on brand development.

    It was at this point he decide to put his decade of experience to good use and opened his first venture; The Bon Vivant in Edinburgh's city centre in 2008. Every detail of the concept was intensely scrutinised by Stuart and the end result is a continental drinking and dining experience offering unparalleled standards in cocktails, wine, food and service. The Bon Vivant is still winning awards 11 years after its launch, it has appeared in the Michelin Guide three years running and a personal highlight for Stuart came when The Bon Vivant won The Best International Restaurant Bar at Tales of the Cocktail 2014 Spirited Awards - the first Scottish establishment to win an award from Tales. In 2011, Stuart ventured into retail and opening an adjoining off-licence called The Bon Vivant's Companion, which stocks an astonishing assortment of wines, spirits and beers.

    (In 2013 the launch of Stuart’s next venue came as part of a new partnership with the Chris Stewart Group as part of the regeneration project of Advocate’s Close, this partnership would go on to drive the business from strength to strength.) 2013 saw the launch of The Devil’s Advocate in a converted pump house in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town. Stocking over 300 whiskies with a contemporary cool Scottish vibe, the offer was a move away from the familiar but the common thread of quality and attention to detail was evident. Not one to slow down, the following year, Stuart began work on an entirely new concept and the resulting El Cartel was born; a quick and vibrant casual dining experience in the New Town which offers home-made, fresh and authentic Mexican street food and drinks.

    Fast forward to 2018 and The Bon Vivant Group has almost doubled in size after securing a financial deal to support Stuart’s growth plans and the launch of three exciting new venues; the second El Cartel in the Teviot area of the city as well as two new opportunities at the Edinburgh Grand. Located in the coveted St Andrews Square area The Bon Vivant Group is the only independent operator in a sea of London chains in that patch of town – a feat for which Stuart is incredibly proud. The Register Club on the 4th floor is operated in partnership with the Edinburgh Grand and is an elegant haven offering all the private club benefits without the associated price tag - A winning combination! Finally, the newest addition to the Bon Vivant Group is Lady Libertine, which combines deliciously fresh food, an incredible array of cocktails and wine alongside a carefully curated line up of DJs and live music – great food, great drinks and great music – they do say the best things come in threes.

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    Stuart McCluskey

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Matthew McFadyen TASTE JUDGE

    Matthew McFadyen is one of the co-founders of The Good Spirits Company, Glasgow's leading independent spirits specialist.  He is particularly interested in Scotch malt whisky, but his passion for...
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    Matthew McFadyen is one of the co-founders of The Good Spirits Company, Glasgow's leading independent spirits specialist.  He is particularly interested in Scotch malt whisky, but his passion for booze extends to the fine art of the cocktail. He hosts monthly Whisky, Gin, and Cocktail tastings.

    Prior to setting up The Good Spirits Co., he worked for Oddbins, managing Glasgow branches in the city centre and on the south side. Whilst there he developed a keen understanding of both the on- and off-trade, along with a taste for fine wine. He also ran regular customer tastings of wine, champagne, and whisky.

    Matthew grew up in the Black Isle close to the site of the Ferintosh distillery. His first bottle of whisky was Laphroaig Ten Year Old.

    Dedicated husband and father of two, Matthew confesses to a weakness for tweed, although he hasn't yet taken up golf!

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    Matthew McFadyen

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Ian McKerrow BUSINESS JUDGE

    Ian has grown up immersed in the Scotch whisky industry, with his father being the CEO of Glenmorangie and his mother’s family having started Mackinlay’s in 1815.  Improving whisky education...
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    Ian has grown up immersed in the Scotch whisky industry, with his father being the CEO of Glenmorangie and his mother’s family having started Mackinlay’s in 1815.  Improving whisky education and knowledge is Ian’s passion.

    He founded Hong Kong’s first ever whisky festival, Malt Masters, in 2013 and ran it successfully for three years before moving back to Scotland in 2016 to join his sister, Kirsty, in developing the Edinburgh Whisky Academy.  At the Academy, Ian is in charge of developing business with whisky brands. 

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    Ian McKerrow

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Annabel Meikle TASTE & BUSINESS JUDGE

    Annabel has been in the role of Director of the Keepers of the Quaich since May 2015,when she relocated the office north of the Border. Her role is to organise the twoceremony and banquets each year where...
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    Annabel has been in the role of Director of the Keepers of the Quaich since May 2015,
    when she relocated the office north of the Border. Her role is to organise the two
    ceremony and banquets each year where new members are inducted into the society at Blair Castle.

    She has worked in the whisky industry since 2001, organising events and tastings, then as the global brand ambassador for Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. She established her own consultancy, the Whisky Belle, where she was contributing editor on two publications and well respected for her sensory evaluation and tasting notes. Annabel has delighted audiences all over the world with her knowledge and passion for Scotch Whisky.

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    Annabel Meikle

    TASTE & BUSINESS JUDGE
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    David Moore BUSINESS JUDGE

    David Moore is a Director of flavourly.com, a leading UK online craft beer and spirits discovery business. David spent 13 years in Asia Pacific with Diageo based in Sydney, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh and Shanghai....
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    David Moore is a Director of flavourly.com, a leading UK online craft beer and spirits discovery business.

    David spent 13 years in Asia Pacific with Diageo based in Sydney, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh and Shanghai. During his time David served as Managing Director of Diageo’s Asia Beer business and subsequently MD of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

    Since returning to Scotland in 2013, David has developed a range of investments and business interests in the beverage, tech and export sectors.

    David is a founder shareholder and Director of Craft Beer Clan (www.craftbeerclanscotland.com), the export portal for craft beverages from Scotland as the international division of JW Filshill Group (www.filshill.co.uk), as well as Clan Brewing Company which exports limited edition whisky cask finished beers.

    He is a Director and shareholder In Good Spirits CIC, brand owner of the world’s first social enterprise gin, Ginerosity (www.ginerosity.com) and Fusion Whisky Limited, which has developed the ground-breaking “Glover”, “Kincardine”, “Winter Queen” and “Brisbane" premium fusion whisky brands (www.fusionwhisky.com).

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    David Moore

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Arthur Motley TASTE JUDGE

    Arthur Motley is Sales and Purchasing Director at Dormant Distillery Company Ltd, with his principal role being the sourcing and purchasing of spirits for their Royal Mile Whiskies and Drinkmonger shops....
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    Arthur Motley is Sales and Purchasing Director at Dormant Distillery Company Ltd, with his principal role being the sourcing and purchasing of spirits for their Royal Mile Whiskies and Drinkmonger shops. He has held this role for over 15 years, also overseeing the growth of their web and wholesale business in this time. His first job in whisky was as whisky buyer for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, sourcing casks and organising all tasting for two years. He has judged many spirits and cocktail competitions in Scotland and overseas. Outside his love for the liquid, he has a keen interest in the culture and history of whisky, reading and researching whenever he can.

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    Arthur Motley

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Frank Murphy TASTE JUDGE

    Frank has been in the licensed trade since the first family pub in Possil when he was 8. He's since gone from clearing glasses, to pulling pints, to brewing beer, to being the hairy face of one of the...
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    Frank has been in the licensed trade since the first family pub in Possil when he was 8. He's since gone from clearing glasses, to pulling pints, to brewing beer, to being the hairy face of one of the best whisky bars in Glasgow, and therefore the world, The Pot Still on Hope Street. Still a family affair with sister Geraldine and dad Brian, they've achieved seven years manning the helm without any of them being jailed for the axe murder of the other two; but there's still time. With a perpetually rotating gantry, Frank spends a fair bit of time "working" on finding new delights at auction, on dusty shelves in corner shops and visiting distilleries for that hand-filled rarity. It's a hard life. He's also known by name at Glasgow Airport but that's not for here...

    Frank has a cousin who wrote a book on gin, but Frank doesn't hold it against him. He beats him over the head with it instead.

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    Frank Murphy

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Sean Murphy TASTE JUDGE

    Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for the Scotsman and has recently published his first book.  Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind...
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    Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for the Scotsman and has recently published his first book.  Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them. 

    He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his drinks knowledge.

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    Sean Murphy

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Hans & Becky Offringa TASTE JUDGES

    Hans Offringa (1956) is a bi-lingual author, media expert and photographer with an international reputation regarding all things whisky and whiskey. To date he has written more than 25 books on the topic....
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    Hans Offringa (1956) is a bi-lingual author, media expert and photographer with an international reputation regarding all things whisky and whiskey. To date he has written more than 25 books on the topic. During his long career he received various awards and was named Patron of the Whisky Festival Northern Netherlands, Honorary Scotsman, Honorary Member of the Caledonian Society of Charleston (SC), Keeper of the Quaich and Kentucky Colonel.

    Mr. Offringa is also European Contributing Editor at Whisky Magazine and the official ambassador of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) for the BeNeLux as well as Lifetime International Ambassador of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

    Together with his American spouse Becky Lovett Offringa he forms The Whisky Couple. Becky is an excellent taster and photographer in her own right. Their articles and photographs have been published in books, magazines and newspapers around the globe.

    The Whisky Couple have been judges for years at various competitions, such as World Whisky Awards and Dutch Whisky Awards. Furthermore they present whisky masterclasses in Europe and the USA, develop marketing concepts and produce marketing material for the whisky industry. Among their clients are Diageo, Pernod-Ricard, Chivas Brothers, Edrington, Beam Suntory, Four Roses and Jack Daniel.

    Mr. Offringa’s most recent book is the bestseller A Field Guide to Whisky, published by Workman/Artisan in New York.

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    Hans & Becky Offringa

    TASTE JUDGES
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    James Porteous TASTE JUDGE

    James is the founder and distiller of the Electric Spirit Company, producing spirits in Leith, Edinburgh. As a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, James previously consulted on brand experience for...
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    James is the founder and distiller of the Electric Spirit Company, producing spirits in Leith, Edinburgh.

    As a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, James previously consulted on brand experience for numerous multi-national businesses, before returning to Scotland and enrolling on the Brewing & Distilling MSc at Heriot Watt. He graduated with distinction, receiving the Brewers’ Company Prize as the course’s top student, as well as the Watt Club Medal as dux litterarum in the School of Life Sciences.

    He founded Electric in late 2014, beginning production on a 20 litre still in a tiny industrial unit. The company has since increased capacity and expanded distribution nationally, winning at the Scottish Gin Awards and being named as the coolest spirit brand in Scotland by The Herald, with Ian Buxton placing Electric “at the cutting edge of the vibrant Scottish craft distilling scene” in 101 Gins to Try Before You Die.

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    James Porteous

    TASTE JUDGE
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    John Ramsay TASTE JUDGE

    John started work in 1966 in a laboratory of Long John Distillers serving Styrathclyde Grain and Kinclaith Malt distilleries. John qualified as chemist, LRIC in 1971 and took up position as Chief Chemist...
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    John started work in 1966 in a laboratory of Long John Distillers serving Styrathclyde Grain and Kinclaith Malt distilleries.

    John qualified as chemist, LRIC in 1971 and took up position as Chief Chemist with Wm Lawson Distillers. It was then that he began training as blender. John was appointed Chemist/ Master Blender in 1984.

    John joined Robertson & Baxter in 1992 as Head of Technical services, laboratory and blending; and was responsible for Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark blends as well as single malts, Bunnabhain, Glengoyne, Glenrothes, Glenturret and Highland Park. In 1994 he developed The Glenrothes vintage range.

    In 2001, after Highland Distillers takeover, John was responsible for The Macallan and its many variants. He also developed the Fine Oak range.

    John developed all variants, blends and malts up until his retirement in 2009.

    Following his retirement, John continued with some Whisky Consultancy work at The Notch distillery, Nantucket USA: Rockford Blended in India and Royal Oak Distillery in Ireland. Both are still on going.

    John has been a member of the judging panel at the International Spirit Challenge, 1993 – 2006 and became Chairman of the Judging Panel from 2006 - 2015.

    His hobbies include golf and poetry of Robert Burns.

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    John Ramsay

    TASTE JUDGE
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    James Robertson TASTE & BUSINESS JUDGE

    James is an experienced International Sales Manager with core strengths in developing relationships, branded awareness and global exports in markets such as the USA, Canada, Asia, Europe, the Nordics,...
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    James is an experienced International Sales Manager with core strengths in developing relationships, branded awareness and global exports in markets such as the USA, Canada, Asia, Europe, the Nordics, Russia and the former Soviet Republics. Over the past year or so he has been advising a wide range of companies on export and brand building and working as a business mentor with the Institute of Directors.  Previously James was the Global Brand Ambassador and International Sales Manager for Tullibardine Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. He was synonymous worldwide with Tullibardine presenting on TV, Radio & to live audiences. Known as a charismatic public speaker with excellent presentation skills, attending the key Whisky Festivals around the world. Prior to this he worked as a Regional Sales Manager looking after Taittinger, Louis Jadot, Errazuriz and Villa Maria. James holds the WSET Diploma and has been a judge with the IWSC.

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    James Robertson

    TASTE & BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Ingvar Ronde TASTE JUDGE

    Ingvars interest in whisky started with a trip to The Highlands in summer 1980. Together with a friend he rented a car and followed the Whisky Trail. Few distilleries had a visitor centre in those days...
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    Ingvars interest in whisky started with a trip to The Highlands in summer 1980. Together with a friend he rented a car and followed the Whisky Trail. Few distilleries had a visitor centre in those days but Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glenfarclas and Strathisla were on the list. These visits ignited an interest in whisky that would continue to grow over the years. In 2005 he turned his hobby into an occupation when he published the first edition of the Malt Whisky Yearbook. The idea to write the book came from the frustration of not having one reliable source where he could follow the latest happenings in the whisky world and have a peak towards the new trends. Fourteen years later the book sells 20,000 copies every year across the world. The book has also been translated into Chinese and Korean. Ingvar was inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich in 2016 and has been a member of whisky jurys in London, Warsaw and Sweden.

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    Ingvar Ronde

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Bernhard Schäfer TASTE JUDGE

    Started his professional Spirit career behind a Cocktailbar 1985, during his studies of sociology.  Some years later he began giving lectures on different spirits, mainly Whisky. Where he got...
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    Started his professional Spirit career behind a Cocktailbar 1985, during his studies of sociology.  Some years later he began giving lectures on different spirits, mainly Whisky. Where he got the highest accolades was when he became a Keeper of the Quaich in 1996, and a Master of the Quaich in 2007.

    He is a co-founder of ENSE (European Network of Spirit Experts). Since 1997 Bernhard has been a panel member for a number of different Spirit Competitions in Europe, and since 2010 in the US.

    He became a proud member of RumXP 2012 and all his friends say,: “I would once like to pass holidays as what you are calling work” and “why are you wearing Hawaiian Shirts all Summer”

    In Germany he gives lectures on Rum, Gin, Whisky, Cognac and Champagne, for both on and off trade and for the public.

    He is a contributing Editor for several Bar and Drinks magazines in the GSA countries.

    Books on Spirits:
    http://www.gu.de/buecher/hallwag/einfuehrungen/1174588-rum/
    http://www.gu.de/buecher/hallwag/einfuehrungen/1174621-gin/
    https://www.gu.de/buecher/hallwag/einfuehrungen/1221673-whisky

    Education in Spirits 1984-1990 Bartender 1991-1999 General Manager at Freudenpark Bar (1999 Best
    Classical Cocktailbar in Germany) 1996 Keeper of the Quaich, 2007 Master of the Quaich, 2011
    Founder of ENSE, European Network of Spirit Experts , WSET Spirits LvL3
    1996 Keeper of the Quaich
    2012 RumXP
    2014 Cognac Educator
    2016 Rectifier of the Gin Guild

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    Bernhard Schäfer

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Karen Somerville BUSINESS JUDGE

    Karen has a passion for whisky and glass. Co - Director of The Fife Whisky Festival, a vibrant celebration of whisky and bringing whisky back to the Kingdom of Fife with the first festival of its...
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    Karen has a passion for whisky and glass. Co - Director of The Fife Whisky Festival, a vibrant celebration of whisky and bringing whisky back to the Kingdom of Fife with the first festival of its kind in the area in 2018 and set to become a growing successful event for March 2019.

    As Director of Angels' Share Glass ® Karen is also a former winner of "Entrepreneur of the Year"  Chamber of Commerce Awards. Karen serves on the committee of The Association of Women Entrepreneurs Scotland, mentoring small and start up businesses. Winning many business awards from product design to growth, the firms glassblowing expertise and passion for scotch whisky is evident within the industry. 

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    Karen Somerville

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Tristan Stephenson TASTE JUDGE

    Tristan Stephenson is an award winning bar operator, bartender, chef, some-time journalist, and bestselling author of the Curious Bartender series of drinks books. He is the cofounder of London-based Fluid...
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    Tristan Stephenson is an award winning bar operator, bartender, chef, some-time journalist, and bestselling author of the Curious Bartender series of drinks books. He is the cofounder of London-based Fluid Movement, a globally renowned drinks consultancy Dirm, and half the brains behind the drinks programs at some of the world’s top drinking and eating destinations - he’s also quite handy with an espresso machine.

    After co-founding Fluid Movement in 2009, Tristan went on to open Purl, his Dirst bar, in 2010, and the Worship Street Whistling Shop in 2011 (Time Out London’s ‘Best new bar 2011’). In 2012 Fluid Movement opened their Dirst restaurant in London, Dach & Sons, a New York inspired hot-dog, beer and bourbon bar. In 2014 Fluid Movement opened its Dirst venue outside of London: Surfside, a steak and lobster restaurant on Polzeath beach in North Cornwall, which was awarded the No. 1 Position in the Sunday Times ‘Best alfresco dining spots in the UK 2015’. Tristan served as head chef there for the Dirst year and continues to manage the food and beverage offering. In 2016 Fluid Movement launched Black Rock, a breakthrough whisky bar concept that was awarded the UK’s ‘Best Specialist Bar’ by Class Magazine in 2017 and 2018. Spring 2017 saw the arrival The Napoleon Hotel — literally built on top of Black Rock, the venue features just one luxury room and two bars: SACK (a modern sherry and tapas bar) and The Devil’s
    Darling (a classic cocktail bar).

    In 2017 Tristan co-launched Whisky-Me, a breakthrough whisky subscription service that delivers a monthly 5cl pouches of single malt through members letterboxes.

    Tristan has travelled to over 300 distilleries around the world, across something like 60 countries, including Holland, Scotland, Mexico, Cuba, France, Lebanon, Italy, Guatemala, Japan, and every major island in the Caribbean. Tristan was awarded UK bartender of the year in 2012 and in the same year was included in Evening Standard’s top 1000 most inDluential Londoners. He has appeared on various TV shows in the UK, including Market Kitchen, Live with Gabby and Something For the Weekend. Tristan is an occasional contributor TIME.com.

    In 2009 he was ranked 3rd in the UK Barista Championships. Previous to this he successfully harvested, processed, roasted and brewed the Dirst cup of UK grown coffee from the Eden Project in Cornwall, achieving international press coverage. In Spring 2015 he published his Dirst coffee book, The Curious Barista’s Guide to Coffee (RPS) Tristan’s Dirst book, the Andre Simon Award nominated, The Curious Bartender: The Artistry & Alchemy of Creating the Perfect Cocktail was released in October 2013 and became an Evening Standard Bestseller. His second book, The Curious Bartender: And Odyssey of Whiskies hit the shelves in October 2014, and was followed by the Andre Simon Award nominated The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace, and most recently, his Difth book, The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution, published in April 2017. Tristan’s sixth book, The Curious Bartender Vol. 2: The New Testament of Cocktails was published in September 2018 release. The series has sold over a quarter of a million copies worldwide.

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    Tristan Stephenson

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Keir Sword BUSINESS JUDGE

    Keir is the Director of Royal Mile Whiskies in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town. Set up in 1991, Royal Mile Whiskies has become one of the most respected whisky merchants in the world, winning...
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    Keir is the Director of Royal Mile Whiskies in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town.

    Set up in 1991, Royal Mile Whiskies has become one of the most respected whisky merchants in the world, winning Whisky Magazine’s Retailer of the Year Award in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015. An important part of that success is down to the people and the fact they share a passion for all things whisky – especially Scottish Single Malt Whisky.
     

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    Keir Sword

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Ken Symon BUSINESS JUDGE

    Ken Symon has been Editor of Scottish Business Insider since March 2016. He launched insider.co.uk as a standalone website in March 2017, forming the team that was runner up in the Digital Team of the...
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    Ken Symon has been Editor of Scottish Business Insider since March 2016. He launched insider.co.uk as a standalone website in March 2017, forming the team that was runner up in the Digital Team of the Year category at the Scottish Press Awards for 2017. He was shortlisted in the Editor, Specialist Magazines category at the 2018 Scottish magazines Awards and Insider was shortlisted in the Media Brand category'

    Ken previously ran his own business Symon Media Ltd and earlier was Deputy Editor of The Sunday Times Scotland, Business Editor of The Scotsman and Business Editor of the Sunday Herald.

    Ken teaches Tai Chi Chuan and is a lifelong supporter of Motherwell Football Club.

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    Ken Symon

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Karen Walker BUSINESS JUDGE

    Karen is a highly experienced, accomplished and well-respected marketeer with global exposure. She is now a marketing consultant, specialising in the spirits industry.  Utilising 25 years’ experience,...
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    Karen is a highly experienced, accomplished and well-respected marketeer with global exposure.

    She is now a marketing consultant, specialising in the spirits industry.  Utilising 25 years’ experience, she is focussed on adding value to fledgling, growing or established businesses.

    Karen is an appointed Life Member of the Keeper of the Quaich since 2007.
     

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    Karen Walker

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Lesley Welsh BUSINESS JUDGE

    Lesley is a hospitality expert, passionate about delivering amazing experiences whether it be in bars, restaurants, hotels or cinemas. After studying law at Aberdeen University, she chose to continue...
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    Lesley is a hospitality expert, passionate about delivering amazing experiences whether it be in bars, restaurants, hotels or cinemas. After studying law at Aberdeen University, she chose to continue within the industry, following on from part time jobs whilst studying, and 20 years later is currently the Chief Operating Officer for G1 Group, Scotland’s largest hospitality company.

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    Lesley Welsh

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Ged Welch BUSINESS JUDGE

    Ged Welch is a performance coach and business consultant who helps organisations solve intractable problems and devise transformational strategies. He has over 25 years experience in the drinks industry,...
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    Ged Welch is a performance coach and business consultant who helps organisations solve intractable problems and devise transformational strategies.

    He has over 25 years experience in the drinks industry, in a variety of leadership roles including S&N, Domeq and Diageo. He was Operations Director for Glenmorangie PLC, MD of William Grant and Sons Distillers and MD and co-owner of Thierry’s Wine Services. Ged’s time in the Scotch Whisky industry was one of immense change, in terms of organisation, culture and product offerings.

    He has a knack for seeing things from a new perspective and an ability to translate complex ideas making them easily accessible for everyone. He co-created the WineTubeMap and continues to contribute to the development of the Tube Map tools.

    He has held a number of other directorships and steering roles including the Scotch Whisky Research Institute and the operations board of the Scottish Whisky Association.

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    Ged Welch

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Dr Christopher White TASTE JUDGE

    Dr. Christopher White started out as a tour guide at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh over a decade ago. His passion for whisky soon snowballed, and he is now Editor of Edinburgh Whisky Blog,...
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    Dr. Christopher White started out as a tour guide at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh over a decade ago. His passion for whisky soon snowballed, and he is now Editor of Edinburgh Whisky Blog, an award-winning, influential whisky website.

    Chris has hosted tastings across the globe, and has worked in an ambassadorial capacity for several whisky brands. He has previously judged the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards, The Spirits Business’ Global Scotch Masters, and the Wild Turkey and Buffalo Trace regional cocktail competitions.

    He is a member of the Tasting Panel at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, where he is responsible for analysing, reviewing and selecting casks to be bottled and sold by the society. More recently, Chris founded, and was General Manager of, the award-winning Usquabae Whisky Bar in Edinburgh. Currently, he is the Auctioneer at Royal Mile Whisky Auctions, an ethical, online whisky auction platform.

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    Dr Christopher White

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Alf Young BUSINESS JUDGE

    Alf Young has written, broadcast and commented on issues affecting Scotland’s economy and business sector for the past four decades. He currently writes a weekly business column for the Scottish...
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    Alf Young has written, broadcast and commented on issues affecting Scotland’s economy and business sector for the past four decades. He currently writes a weekly business column for the Scottish edition of The Times and is a visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde, working with its Fraser of Allander Institute and Centre for Energy Policy. From the days of the great takeover battles in the Scotch whisky in the mid-1980s, he has remained a close observer that sector’s fortunes.

    He retired in 2009 from the Herald, after 22 years in a variety of executive roles, including deputy editor. Throughout he wrote his own regular columns on business, economic and political issues.

    Born and raised in Greenock, the son of a shipyard craftsman, he holds degrees in natural philosophy (physics) and education. He has also been awarded honorary degrees by four Scottish universities.

    Alf was a member of the group which helped devise the financial arrangements for Scotland's devolved government. He served on BP's Scottish advisory board for three years and was chairman for seven years of Riverside Inverclyde, the pathfinder urban regeneration company bringing life back to the waterfront of the Lower Clyde. Alf has also chaired Social Investment Scotland for three years.

    He still follows his hometown football team, Greenock Morton, home and away. His partner Carol Craig wrote The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, The Tears that Made the Clyde and is publisher of the Postcards From Scotland series.

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    Alf Young

    BUSINESS JUDGE