Award winners will be chosen by an independently appointed judging panel who will review written entries and carry out a blind tasting.
Chair of the Judging Panel
Stephen White is a Glasgow based entrepreneur. He qualified as a C.A. in the 1980's and then embarked on a variety of business ventures including property investment, professional practice, food manufacturing and the hotel, pub and leisure trade.
Stephen’s core skill in business turnaround has led him to many exciting opportunities. In 2009, he worked on the rescue of a major Glasgow pub group following the UK recession and, once again, in 2015, he helped rescue another major pub group, adding to his portfolio of business interests in the licensed trade. Following these restructuring projects, Stephen has had huge success in licensed trade investment opportunities and is now building one of Scotland's most profitable pub groups with his partner Oli Norman of Itison fame.
Stephen is a seasoned gin lover and passionate about all things gin. In 2015, he founded The Scottish Gin Society, a fun and funky, exciting and amazing journey that has allowed him to create an online community of fellow gin lovers and work closely with a range of distilleries and bars to bring together the people who make great gin in Scotland and those who enjoy drinking it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Martin has long since been an important figure within the drinks industry, as a bartender and manager. His love of gin came from the time where he ran the bar at Edinburgh’s ’56 North’, during which time he saw the stock go from just 30 gins to well over 200. In 2014 he set up Scotland’s first gin festival, named the ‘Scottish Juniper Festival’ held at Summerhall. Since then the event has grown year on year, dropping the “Scottish” prefix in order to celebrate gins from all over the world.
A lover of flavour, Martin is passionate about not only educating guests on the gins themselves, however also how to enjoy each product in the best way possible. Martin can often be found checking out new distilleries or talking someone’s ear off about this most wonderful spirit.
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.
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.
David Moore is the CEO of flavourly.com, the UK’s leading craft beer and spirits discovery club 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 and export sector.
David is a founder shareholder of Craft Beer Clan (www.craftbeerclanscotland.com) the export portal for craft beverages from Scotland, majority owned by JW Filshill International Limited.
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” and “Kincardine” premium fusion whisky brands (www.fusionwhisky.com).
Alex began his career with Cadbury Schweppes in their wine business Andre Simon. In 1985, he moved to Whitbread as marketing Manager at Long John whisky and worked on their portfolio which included Plymouth Gin. Not long after, Whitbread purchased Beefeater Gin which Alex also worked on for a few years before moving to Edinburgh in 1990 to join Glenmorangie as Marketing Director.
In 1998, Alex took on the responsibility for European Markets at Scottish & Newcastle where he remained until 2004 before moving to Whyte and MacKay where he took up the position of Chief Operating officer and saw the company through its sale to the United Spirits and Indian drinks group.
Alex started his own company, Spencerfield Spirits Co, in 2006 , which included Sheep Dip malt whisky, Pigs Nose blended whisky and then famously launched Edinburgh Gin in 2011. In September 2016, Alex sold Edinburgh Gin to Ian MacLeod Distillers and now runs the Spencerfield Consultancy with his wife Jane, specialising in working with small drinks companies. They also have equity in Direct Distribution, a drinks distribution company based in Paris.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.