The Scottish Gin Awards judging panel is an independently appointed panel.  The panel is the largest and most experienced gin judging panels to meet in the UK and consist of industry experts from the gin sector who bring together experience, market knowledge and distilling expertise.

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    Alex Bruce Chair of the Judging Panel & Managing Director, Adelphi Distillery

    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 & Managing Director, Adelphi Distillery
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    Kirsty Black (Taste Judge) Head Distiller, Arbikie Distilling

    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 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.

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    Kirsty Black (Taste Judge)

    Head Distiller, Arbikie Distilling
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    Sarah Brown Gin Enthusiast & Blogger

    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 20 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

    Gin Enthusiast & Blogger
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    Bruce Casely Independent FMGC Consultant

    Bruce is an independent FMCG consultant. His has worked as strategy director for Scottish & Newcastle’s pub division, in private equity focussing on leisure, led the divestment of Vion’s...
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    Bruce is an independent FMCG consultant. His has worked as strategy director for Scottish & Newcastle’s pub division, in private equity focussing on leisure, led the divestment of Vion’s protein assets in the UK and most recently in international business development and corporate finance for Conviviality plc as a consultant.

    While his career has been skewed towards the finance side including floating a US company on AiM as its CFO, he has always had a focus and love of understanding the consumer demand for alcohol products and experiences within a variety of venues. 

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    Bruce Casely

    Independent FMGC Consultant
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    Geraldine Coates (Taste Judge) Editor, gintime.com

    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.

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    Geraldine Coates (Taste Judge)

    Editor, gintime.com
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    Rob Dorsett (Taste Judge) Master Distiller, Langley Distillery

    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...
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    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.dorsett@alcohols.co.uk

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    Rob Dorsett (Taste Judge)

    Master Distiller, Langley Distillery
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    Ruth Evans (Taste Judge) CEO, BFBI

    Ruth Evans MBE is CEO for BFBi (Brewing, Food & Beverage Industry Suppliers’ Association, formed in 1907). She has been with the Association for 16 years, the past 12 as CEO. BFBi is believed...
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    Ruth Evans MBE is CEO for BFBi (Brewing, Food & Beverage Industry Suppliers’ Association, formed in 1907). She has been with the Association for 16 years, the past 12 as CEO. BFBi is believed to be the only trade association in the world representing an entire value chain into the beverage industry and gives Ruth a unique view across all sectors. 

    The Association owns and runs the bi-annual International Brewing Awards, the oldest international brewing competition in the world (started in 1888). Cider returned to the Awards in 2011, via The International Cider Awards.

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    Ruth Evans (Taste Judge)

    CEO, BFBI
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    Adam Hardie Partner & Head of Food & Drink, Johnston Carmichael

    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

    Partner & Head of Food & Drink, Johnston Carmichael
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    Annie Hill Associate Professor & Programme Director, the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Heriot-Watt University

    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 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.

     

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    Annie Hill

    Associate Professor & Programme Director, the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Heriot-Watt University
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    Dawn Maskell Director of the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Heriot-Watt University

    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...
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    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.

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    Dawn Maskell

    Director of the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Heriot-Watt University
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    Stuart McCluskey Owner, The Bon Vivant Group

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    Stuart McCluskey

    Owner, The Bon Vivant Group
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    Karen McGivern Author, This is 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...
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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

    Author, This is Gin
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    Sean Murphy Food & Drink Writer, The Scotsman

    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...
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    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.

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    Sean Murphy

    Food & Drink Writer, The Scotsman
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    Tom Nichol (Taste Judge) Master Distiller

    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...
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    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.

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    Tom Nichol (Taste Judge)

    Master Distiller
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    Matthew Pauley Associate Professor, The Institute of Brewing & Distilling, Heriot-Watt University

    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

    Associate Professor, The Institute of Brewing & Distilling, Heriot-Watt University
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    Desmond Payne MBE Master Distiller, Beefeater

    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...
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    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 14 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 MBE

    Master Distiller, Beefeater
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    Jim Rankin Commercial Director, Rankin Brothers & Sons

    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

    Commercial Director, Rankin Brothers & Sons
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    Pete Sherry (Taste Judge) Owner, The Beer Hive

    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)

    Owner, The Beer Hive
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    Bill Simpson Executive Director, Cara Technology

    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...
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    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.

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    Bill Simpson

    Executive Director, Cara Technology
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    James Sutherland (Taste Judge) Owner, 56 North

    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...
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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 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.

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    James Sutherland (Taste Judge)

    Owner, 56 North
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    Andrew Wolffe Founder & Director, Wolffe

    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...
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    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.

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    Andrew Wolffe

    Founder & Director, Wolffe
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    Alan Wolstenholme Chair, Scottish Craft Distillers Association

    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

    Chair, Scottish Craft Distillers Association