Award winners will be chosen by an independently appointed judging panel who will review written entries and carry out a blind tasting.
Mike Aikman 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, Mike 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. Mike became a Part Time trainer for Bacardi Rums in Scotland during this time and started doing events to fill in the gaps, which is when he met Jason Scott, his business partner.
After a year or so Mike & Jason started Mothership (Scotland) Ltd in 2005 so they could further the events and consultancy side of their CV’s and started to accumulate funds with an eye to opening their own bar together.
In late 2006 they opened, 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. Their third cocktail bar Lucky Liquor Co opened in 2013.
Since 2014, Mike & Jason have been focusing on producing their own products, of which they have recently launched the first three.
Despite a careers quiz taken aged 15 coming up with “Brewer or Distiller” as a recommended path, Anna made her way into the industry later through her experience in e-commerce startups.
She is now a buyer for Flavourly.com, the UK’s leading craft beer and spirits discovery club business. For Flavourly she sources drinks for the monthly gin & beer discovery clubs and the online drinks shop, working with the best producers across Scotland, the UK and the rest of the world.
Kirsty Black, is both Manager and Distiller at Arbikie Highland Estate. She has been there since the distillery conception in 2014, overseeing all aspects of its conversion from a disused cattle shed to a multi award-winning distillery production vodka, gin and whisky.
Following obtaining a BSc in Plant Science, a PG Dipl. in Forensic Science and nearly 10 years working as an engineer in the Medical Device Industry the time had come to learn about alcohol. She graduated in Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University obtaining an MSc with distinction, The Watt Club Postgraduate Medal for best in school and the Brewers Company Prize for best in class.
In conjunction with working at Arbikie Distillery she is an examiner for the Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD) and is conducting her PhD studies in Abertay University and the James Hutton Institute, researching both the potential to use legumes in intercropping systems and the conversion of the resulting crops into beverage grade alcohol.
Sarah Brown is an avid Gin enthusiast & blogger with over 100 premium gins from around the world in her personal collection, she is also the founder of Craft Gin Hour on social media.
With a career spanning almost 20 years in retail, she has a detailed eye on growing categories & trends, recognising the move to more premium and higher quality spirits.
Wine & Spirits industry career, starting with Remy Cointreau in 1996, then J&B, then joining Adelphi in 2004 as Sales & Marketing Director. He was appointed Managing Director of Adelphi and the Ardnamurchan Distillery in 2015.
He designed and project managed a new bottling and distribution warehouse for Adelphi in 2010, and oversaw the design, planning and build of a brand new, greenfield, distillery in Ardnamurchan on the west coast of Scotland, utilising 100% local, renewable energy sources and deployment of by-products. The Ardnamurchan Distillery was opened by HRH The Princess Royal in July 2014 with a capacity of 600,000 litres of alcohol per annum.
He developed and blended the first, branded, official fusion of Scotch and Japanese whiskies, The Glover, in 2015 to promote the historical relationship between the 2 countries and has subsequently added further international distilling partners to a growing fusion whisky portfolio.
In 2014, he joined the board of Scotland Food & Drink, the ILG for the industry.
In 2017, Adelphi was the first Scotch whisky company to adopt blockchain technology for its bottles, promoting transparency, authenticity and supply chain security.
Alex was appointed a Keeper of the Quaich in 2006, and a Master of the Quaich in 2016. He was also granted Freedom of the City of London in 2012 and became a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Distillers. He is an honorary member of the Whisky Guild of New Zealand and a recipient of the Order of the Scottish Samurai.
Group Corporate Finance Director, Conviviality plc.
Geraldine Coates published her first book on gin over 20 years ago and has been deeply involved in the gin world ever since. She is editor of www.gintime.com, the world's first website devoted to gin, and also writes promotional materials, training programmes and Visitor Centre interpretation for some of the most prestigious gin brands in the world.
Rob Dorsett is The Master Distiller and Manager at Alcohols Limited.
Rob has spent 27 years within the Gin industry including 20 Years spent at Hazelwood Foods/ London Gin Distillery working on production and producing. For the last 17 years Rob has spent his time devoted to Alcohols Limited at the Langley distillery site in Oldbury.
Rob continues to develop his portfolio which now has 50+ recipes and is continuously growing. Most of Rob’s recipes can be found on the current market.
For More Information on a selection of Langley’s gin visit www.palmersgin.com or Contact Rob Dorsett Direct at Rob.email@example.com
Founder, Scot Gin Fest
New Liquid Development Area Leader, William Grant & Sons Distillers
Johnston Carmichael are Scotland’s largest firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, advising over 425 food and drink businesses. They have a wealth of food and drink industry expertise and use this knowledge to help business owners make better business decisions.
Adam leads Johnston Carmichael’s food and drink team, regularly advises gin distillers on strategic growth, internationalisation, and funding options. Funding has become increasingly complex in recent years with the explosion of both crowd funding and peer to peer lending.
Adam is very well connected across, craft spirits, craft brewing, the wider food and drink industry and regularly makes introductions across his network of business leaders, investors and intermediaries to help clients grow.
The Scottish Craft Distillers Association was founded in Johnston Carmichael’s Edinburgh office.
Adam is also a Champion of Ginerosity the world’s first social enterprise gin whose profits go to disadvantaged young adults.
Dr Annie E. Hill is Associate Professor and Programme Director for the MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Brewing & Distilling by Distance Learning at the International Centre for Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. Her research activities have recently focussed on distilling, including product design and process improvement. Formation of the Scottish Craft Distillers Association and subsequent funding from Interface Food and Drink have enabled research on novel Scottish botanicals and fermentation and distillation of Scottish fruits.
Other projects have included a 2 year Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Edinburgh Gin which resulted in the development of Seaside Gin and a Silver Outstanding Award from the IWSC for the core Edinburgh Gin.
Dawn Maskell is the Director of the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University. Dawn has a PhD from Oxford Brookes University in brewing yeast physiology and an Honours degree in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University.
Previously she worked on the valorisation of brewery and distillery co-products. Dawn is a member of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling with a Diploma in Brewing and is an accredited Chartered Scientist. Dawn is also on the Board of Examiners for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and the programme committee for the 2017 Worldwide Distilled Spirits Convention
Karin is the author of “This is Gin: a guide to Scottish Gin”.
Whilst her background is in agriculture and animal science, Karin now owns a business development and marketing consultancy, based in Aberdeenshire. Running her own business has given her a different viewpoint from which to look at the gin industry in Scotland and the variations in companies from small batch one product producers to multi product huge producers. Her qualifications to judge the Scottish Gin Awards are based on her passion for gin as a consumer and a strong sense of business acumen.
Driven by a passion for all things beer and whisky-related, Sean writes for the Scotsman extensively on both subjects.
He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his beer knowledge.
Tom Nichol has been in the distilling industry for over 43 years and has an unrivalled knowledge in spirit making. His unique and specialised experience in whisky, vodka, neutral spirit and gin distillation gives him an expertise that is unparalleled in the industry .
Tom views his extensive experience to date as an extended apprenticeship for making spirits . By working with other spirits and mastering each trade, he has the unique understanding to take on the complexity of distilling gin.
Tom said: “Everything I had learnt throughout my career had helped me reach the ultimate pinnacle of becoming Master Distiller of Tanqueray.
Tom is now distilling gin for various other distillers since retiring from Tanqueray in July 2015
Matthew Pauley has worked in the gin industry since 2008, after graduating with honours from The ICBD at Heriot Watt.
Matthew worked a 5 year stint working at Thames Distillers, under the careful tutelage of Charles Maxwell, and Bacardi Product Development, looking after the Oxley vacuum still. Then worked as part of the team at Bombay Sapphire,s Laverstoke Mill Distillery whilst it was being commissioned.
In 2015 Matthew made the move from industry to academia going back to the ICBD, and in September of last year was made Assistant Professor lecturing in distilling, starting a PhD studying gin flavour and perception. Matthew has just published his first academic paper.
Jim Rankin is Commercial Director and 6th generation owner of Rankin Brothers & Sons, supplier of corks and closures to the Beers, Wines, Spirits and Foods Packaging industries.
Having been born with a cork in his mouth, he spat it out, albeit temporarily, to make wine with Penfolds in Australia during the late 80’s. While down under, he honed his commercial skills selling encyclopaedia Britannica door to door and later, developed a fine eye for detail working in design with ad agency McCann.
A call to help resuscitate T Top Stopper supply to the Spirits industry, lead to a return to the UK in 1992 and to his appointment as Sales Director to the family business.
As custodian of 4,500 acres of cork forest in Portugal, Jim’s expertise in stopper design and function extends from `acorn to bottle’.
Jim remains fascinated by the myriad brands the company supports; his credo being that the commercial offer remains as relevant today, as is was when the business was founded in 1774.
A keen advocate of work life balance and exponent of the virtue of sedentary sports, Jim has swapped a rowing boat for a bicycle, which he has used to cross America twice.
Peter Ranscombe is a freelance journalist and copywriter. He edits BQ Scotland, a quarterly magazine for entrepreneurs, and writes the wine column and drinks blog for Scottish Field magazine. He previously spent a decade as a journalist at The Scotsman newspaper, where he pioneered the reporting of Scotland’s craft gin producers on the business pages.
Originally from Nairn, near Inverness, Peter holds the level-four diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and has been a judge for the Campaign for Real Ale’s awards. His debut novel, an historical thriller called Hare, was published in 2014 by Knox Robinson Publishing.
Pete has worked in the drinks trade since he was 18, having started in Oddbins. He then moved into the on trade part of the business to experience it from the other side and moved back to off trade after securing a position with a local independent beer shop in Edinburgh.
He opened The Beerhive in 2011 and over the following years built up a wide range of Gin, constantly rotates this at around 40 gins to keep up with the increase in new openings of Scottish Gin distilleries and the rise in demand for quality gin. It has become a huge focus in the shop and Pete always endeavours to buy direct from the distillery so he can meet the producers and get to know the gin first hand.
The Beerhive also stocks over 700 Beers and 500 wines. In 2015 and 2016 The Beerhive was awarded Best beer shop in Scotland by Off Licence News.
A drinks industry veteran, Bill has 40 years’ drinks industry experience. As Executive Director of UK-based Cara Technology, Bill has advised distillers in Europe, USA, Latin America, Asia and Africa on the production and quality management of their products, as well as acting as an Expert witness to Courts in matters relating to application of Excise Duties.
Skilled in flavour chemistry and sensory evaluation of drinks, Bill was responsible for the development of stabilized reference flavour standards now used to train professional tasters throughout the drinks industry.
Cara Technology is the leading supplier of such products to users in more than 170 countries, winning the Queen's Award for Enterprise in recognition of its achievements in 2016.
James opened 56 North in April 2008 as Scotland’s first gin bar. He has therefore been fortunate to be at the forefront of the growth in Gin throughout the last 10 years.
James has worked with new brands, producers and distillers as they have popped up all over Scotland. Most recently he has taken an active role in the Great Scottish Gin debates.
Most importantly, James has hosted masterclasses on gin for over 25,000 people in Scotland, helping spread understanding and enjoyment to consumers and guests.
Founder, World Gin Day
Stuart has been working in the spirits industry for over 17 years, initially with the Scotch Whisky industry; researching the flavour of Scotch Whisky through the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, sponsored by the Japanese business, Suntory. He then moved to work for William Grant & Sons Ltd, where he has held a number of roles, initially within their technical teams before moving into the production side of the business.
Stuart has been involved with grain whisky production for a number of those years, as well as the building of the Ailsa Bay malt distillery, before moving to Speyside to lead the Glenfiddich and Balvenie distilleries.
His involvement with Hendrick’s has been as the production manager from 2007 until 2009. More recently as the site leader at Girvan, Stuart has been closely involved with the exciting project to build Hendrick’s its own distillery; scheduled to open later in 2018.
Andrew Wolffe is a designer and business owner who has worked at the highest level of design consultancy in Scotland for over 30 years, he runs a boutique brand design agency in central Edinburgh. His well-informed brand thinking and intelligent creative solutions have supported a wide range of businesses from start-up distilleries to international 5 star hotel groups, and from Scotland's last independent stockbroker in Glasgow to a luxury shoemaker in South America.
Andrew is self-appointed Whisky Diplomat for a new Whisky Club venture that he is developing to export and sell Scotch whiskies in Colombia. His qualifications to judge the Scottish Gin Awards are based on consumption and a deep understanding of the importance of good design and branding in this exciting sector.
Alan is an Honorary Professor of Heriot Watt University’s International Centre of Brewing and Distilling, Chairman of the Scottish Craft Distillers Association and Master Distiller Examiner for The Institute of Brewing and Distilling.
Alan was 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 (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), cooperage, maturation and blending.