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

The panel is the largest and most experienced gin judging panel to meet in the UK and consists of industry experts from the gin sector who bring together experience, market knowledge and distilling expertise.

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

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    Alex Bruce CHAIR OF THE JUDGING PANEL

    Alex has enjoyed a 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...
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    Alex has enjoyed a 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.

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    Alex Bruce

    CHAIR OF THE JUDGING PANEL
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    Alan Barclay BUSINESS JUDGE

    In a distinguished career in the Scotch Whisky industry Alan Barclay has worked in senior roles with some of Scotland’s most celebrated distilleries. Alan has also made a significant contribution...
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    In a distinguished career in the Scotch Whisky industry Alan Barclay has worked in senior roles with some of Scotland’s most celebrated distilleries.

    Alan has also made a significant contribution to the wider industry. He is Past Chairman of the Advisory Board to the International Centre of Brewing and Distilling at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh and from 2006 to 2012 was Visiting Professor at Heriot Watt’s School of Life Sciences.

    (The International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) is a unique teaching and research facility based on a partnership between industry and academics and is the only organisation in the UK to offer both Honours and Masters degrees in Brewing and Distilling.)

    Alan is a Past President of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and regularly lectures to international audiences in his role as a Trainer for the Institute.

    After joining United Distillers in 1992 from brewer Bass plc, Alan managed Burghead and Roseisle maltings before moving as Senior Manager to Dailuaine and Benrinnes distilleries.

    Following the creation of Diageo, Alan moved into a series of senior management roles in which he was responsible for key elements of the company’s distilling operations including spells as General Manager to the companies 10 distilleries with visitor centres, General Manager of Port Dundas grain distillery, maturation warehouses and whisky stocks.

    He led a major technical review of the company’s production capabilities in Scotland and in the six years leading up to his retirement in 2013 was Governance Director for all Diageo’s European production sites responsible for total technical governance from Health and Safety and Environmental Sustainability to Risk Management and Business Continuity.

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    Alan Barclay

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Kirsty Black TASTE JUDGE

    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...
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    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 11 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.

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    Kirsty Black

    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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    Sarah Brown TASTE JUDGE

    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...
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    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 21 years in retail, she has a detailed eye on growing categories & trends, recognising the move to more premium and higher quality spirits.

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    Sarah Brown

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Sian Buchan TASTE JUDGE

    Sian Buchan has been in the hospitality industry since she was 18 years old, having worked around Scotland in a selection of venues from Student Union to High Volume Cocktail Bar. Having worked in an ambassadorial...
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    Sian Buchan has been in the hospitality industry since she was 18 years old, having worked around Scotland in a selection of venues from Student Union to High Volume Cocktail Bar. Having worked in an ambassadorial role for gin & whisky for some time, Sian missed the buzz of behind the bar and joined the team at Panda & Sons in 2016  where she has been ever since, working her way to a Manager position. Sian loves drinking and making gin cocktails and if you spot her around, she’ll have a Negroni or a French 75 without argument!

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    Sian Buchan

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Geraldine Coates TASTE JUDGE

    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,...
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    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.

    Geraldine teaches the worlds first SQA certified Diploma in Gin at the Edinburgh Whisky Academy. The comprehensive course covers all aspects of gin from the history and regulatory styles to different distillation methods and key botanicals, as well as an overview of some iconic gin cocktails.

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    Geraldine Coates

    TASTE JUDGE
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    David Craig TASTE JUDGE

    After completing ‘Diageo Learning for Life’ programme through The Springboard Charity in early 2015, saw the beginning of David's career in hospitality. The key objective of the programme is...
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    After completing ‘Diageo Learning for Life’ programme through The Springboard Charity in early 2015, saw the beginning of David's career in hospitality. The key objective of the programme is to help unemployed individuals back into work and into a sustainable and progressive career and industry. He was soon employed by Gin71 as a Front of House team member after completing an unpaid placement with the company. Since 2015, David has quickly worked his way up from Front of House team member to Head Bartender, Assistant Manager and on to his current and most senior role, General Manager of Gin71 Merchant City - all within 3 years in the company.

    In his 4 years at Gin71 David has been a key member of developing the business through various expansions, menu changes and development and team training and building. During his quick progression at Gin71, he has received several accolades both personally and on behalf of the business. David was awarded British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) Bar Personality of the Year 2017, Brockmans World Gin Day Cocktail 2017 competition, which received 118 entries over 12 countries, my cocktail beat entries from bars in London, Madrid and New York after just 2 years bar experience. Most recently, after a year of being General Manager of Gin71 Merchant City the team were awarded ´Gin Bar of the Year 2018´ at the SLTN Awards.

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    David Craig

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Rob Dorsett TASTE JUDGE

    Rob Dorsett is The Master Distiller and Manager at Alcohols Limited.  Rob has spent 28 years within the Gin industry including 21 Years spent at Hazelwood Foods/ London Gin Distillery working on production...
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    Rob Dorsett is The Master Distiller and Manager at Alcohols Limited.  Rob has spent 28 years within the Gin industry including 21 Years spent at Hazelwood Foods/ London Gin Distillery working on production and producing. For the last 18 years Rob has spent his time devoted to Alcohols Limited at the Langley distillery site in Oldbury and in October 2018 was inducted into the Gin Guild.

    Rob continues to develop his portfolio which now has 80+ 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.dorsett@alcohols.co.uk

     

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    Rob Dorsett

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Adrian Gomes TASTE JUDGE

    Adrian Gomes is the founder of North-East award-winning cocktail bar The Tippling House and events company 10 Dollar Shake, as well as one of the co-founders of Jindea Single Estate Tea Gin.  With...
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    Adrian Gomes is the founder of North-East award-winning cocktail bar The Tippling House and events company 10 Dollar Shake, as well as one of the co-founders of Jindea Single Estate Tea Gin.  With a career that’s taken him from managing one of the top 100 clubs in the world to the finals of some of the world’s most illustrious cocktail competitions, Adrian has been a passionate drinksmith for almost 20 years.

    An intrepid traveller, his first-hand experience of local food and drink culture from around the world has only served to enhance his taste.

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    Adrian Gomes

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Lesley Gracie TASTE JUDGE

    Lesley is the Master Distiller behind Hendrick's Gin and New Liquid Development Area Leader at William Grant & Sons Distillers Ltd.  
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    Lesley is the Master Distiller behind Hendrick's Gin and New Liquid Development Area Leader at William Grant & Sons Distillers Ltd.  

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    Lesley Gracie

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Adam Hardie BUSINESS JUDGE

    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...
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    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. 

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    Adam Hardie

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Ally Hardy TASTE JUDGE

    Ally has over 10 years’ experience working in digital marketing and ecommerce for a number of SMEs across a variety of sectors. In October 2017 he followed his passion for Scottish products and launched...
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    Ally has over 10 years’ experience working in digital marketing and ecommerce for a number of SMEs across a variety of sectors. In October 2017 he followed his passion for Scottish products and launched Craft56°, the first online shop dedicated to Scottish small batch spirits.

    Craft56° now stocks over 70 Scottish gins as well as a range of spirits, gift sets and mixers & soft drinks as well as running the only Scottish gin subscription club.

    Ally will always buy direct from the distillery to develop a relationship with the producer and get to know the gin and the brand first hand.

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    Ally Hardy

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Annie Hill TASTE JUDGE

    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...
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    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 (now Scottish 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 (KTP) with Edinburgh Gin which resulted in the development of Seaside Gin and a Silver Outstanding Award from the IWSC for the core Edinburgh Gin. Annie is currently working with Port of Leith Distillery on another 2 year KTP investigating distillery fermentations.

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    Annie Hill

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Gregor Maclean TASTE JUDGE

    Gregor started his career in the drinks industry in 2013 working for one of the UKs largest drinks company’s which includes one of the worlds biggest gins in their portfolio.  In 2016 Gregor...
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    Gregor started his career in the drinks industry in 2013 working for one of the UKs largest drinks company’s which includes one of the worlds biggest gins in their portfolio.

     In 2016 Gregor and an old school friend Ramone, set up Huffman’s, a premium drinks distributor specialising in independent Scottish gins.

    Starting with only 7 products, Huffman’s now works with over 100 Scottish based drinks companies and has over 500 products (including 200 gins) in their range. They have on and off trade customers all over the UK and are always seeking out new and exciting drinks products coming into the market.

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    Gregor Maclean

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Karen McGivern BUSINESS JUDGE

    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...
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    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. 

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    Karen McGivern

    BUSINESS 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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    Tom Nichol TASTE JUDGE

    Tom Nichol has been in the distilling industry for over 45 years and has an unrivalled knowledge in spirit making. His unique and specialised experience in whisky, vodka, neutral spirit and gin distillation...
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    Tom Nichol has been in the distilling industry for over 45 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.

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    Tom Nichol

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Matthew Pauley TASTE JUDGE

    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...
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    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.

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    Matthew Pauley

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Desmond Payne TASTE JUDGE

    Celebrating more than 50 years in the drinks industry, Desmond is the world’s most experienced gin distiller, and whether he likes it or not, he’s a true icon of popular drinks culture. ...
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    Celebrating more than 50 years in the drinks industry, Desmond is the world’s most experienced gin distiller, and whether he likes it or not, he’s a true icon of popular drinks culture.  His unrivalled contributions to the current gin craze sweeping the world cannot be overstated, with drinkers tuning into the big tastes of a real London Dry Gin. 

    From maintaining the consistently outstanding, award-winning quality of Beefeater Gin for over 20 years, to creating exciting, new expressions which have gone on to achieve global success, Desmond’s passion for heritage and innovation at the London distillery he calls home is second to none.

    Desmond kicked-off his impressive career in 1967 at Seager’s Gin Distillery where he began to develop the tasting and nosing skills that are so crucial to his work today.  In 1969, he moved on to the Plymouth Gin distillery where he worked his way up from Assistant Distiller to Distillery Manager.  He also undertook a short stint working in the Scotch whisky industry.  In 1995, Desmond joined Beefeater as Master Distiller, a position he shows no sign of giving up soon.

    In his capacity as Master Distiller, Desmond is involved in every aspect of the production process, from selecting the juniper berries and other botanicals at harvest to creating a vast array of distillates for blending together to produce a big, bold taste time after time.    He has the responsibility for guarding the secret of the Beefeater London Dry recipe, which was famously created by James Burrough in 1863.  The stills are managed by Desmond and the talented team, helping to ensure that every bottle of Beefeater that rolls out of London is of the same outstanding quality that drinkers expect from the world’s favourite premium gin brand.

    He’s evidently doing a great job as the many awards that Beefeater has won during his tenure go to show that Beefeater is the most awarded premium gin brand over the last 10 years, with Desmond’s distilling expertise resulting in Beefeater winning the prestigious IWSC Trophy for Best Gin eight times in the last 15 years.*

    Desmond’s passion for retaining tradition as well as championing experimentation saw his creation of the super-premium Beefeater 24 in 2008 - a gin inspired by rare teas and exotic botanicals and refined by time. In 2009, it was awarded Trophy Medal in the gin category at the International Wine and Spirits Competition and most recently another Gold Medal at the 2017 International Spirits Challenge.

    In April 2013, the iconic London brand announced that it was expanding the boundaries of the gin category with the launch of Desmond’s latest creation, Beefeater Burrough’s Reserve - an ultra-premium gin unlike any other. Distilled in a small copper still from the 19th century, the spirit is rested in Jean de Lillet oak barrels and is designed to be sipped neat, presenting an exciting new chapter for discerning gin fans.

    In November 2015, Desmond was recognised for his outstanding work and success in the industry when he was presented with a lifetime achievement award from The Gin Guild. He wears his silver juniper sprig badge with huge honour.  This was followed by a Lifetime Achievement award from the International Spirits Challenge in 2016

    In January 2018, Desmond was recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.  He was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the UK gin industry.

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    Desmond Payne

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Jim Rankin BUSINESS JUDGE

    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...
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    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.

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    Jim Rankin

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    David Reid BUSINESS JUDGE

    David runs his own Edinburgh-based consultancy Because Brands Matter. The business has one sole objective; to make other people’s brands more famous. With a career spanning 33 years, David has worked...
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    David runs his own Edinburgh-based consultancy Because Brands Matter. The business has one sole objective; to make other people’s brands more
    famous.

    With a career spanning 33 years, David has worked both agency and client side and has collaborated with many food and drink manufacturers. These include
    names such as Glenmorangie, Drambuie, Smirnoff, Tennent’s, Mother’s Pride, Border Biscuits and Walkers. Using his unique Brand Repositioning Workshop process,
    he has helped hundreds of businesses, across a variety of sectors, reframe their proposition and finesse their messaging.

    David is the only person to have been awarded Agency Creative Director of the Year, Agency Managing Director of the Year and Scotland Food & Drink SME
    Client of the year. He describes himself as being “An enthusiastic gin drinker” and is keen to assist any brand looking to improve sales and increase
    their share of voice.

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    David Reid

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Pete Sherry TASTE JUDGE

    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...
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    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. 

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    Pete Sherry

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Emma Stokes TASTE JUDGE

    Emma Stokes, aka Gin Monkey has become a widely respected expert on the subject of white spirits, especially gin. Her book The Periodic Table of Cocktails has received rave reviews, and Emma is also the...
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    Emma Stokes, aka Gin Monkey has become a widely respected expert on the subject of white spirits, especially gin. Her book The Periodic Table of Cocktails has received rave reviews, and Emma is also the prime mover behind World Gin Day. With an impressive social media presence and a regular judge in gin and cocktail competitions, Gin Monkey loves to work the occasional bar shift in between keeping all the other plates spinning.

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    Emma Stokes

    TASTE JUDGE
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    James Sutherland TASTE JUDGE

    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 11 years.  James has worked...
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    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 11 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.

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    James Sutherland

    TASTE 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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    Stuart Watts TASTE JUDGE

    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...
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    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.

    He 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.

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    Stuart Watts

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Alan Wolstenholme TASTE & BUSINESS JUDGE

    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...
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    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.

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    Alan Wolstenholme

    TASTE & BUSINESS JUDGE