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 Judging Panel for their commitment and contribution to the competition.

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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 ten 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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    Gary Bradley Taste Judge

    Gary has worked in hospitality for over 20 years and specialize in craft spirits He is currently General manager of 56 North gin bar in Edinburgh since its creation more than 14 years ago.  He owns...
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    Gary has worked in hospitality for over 20 years and specialize in craft spirits He is currently General manager of 56 North gin bar in Edinburgh since its creation more than 14 years ago.  He owns and runs Sip Antics Gin School Experiences formed 4 years ago in Edinburgh which is located in a private room at the Cumberland Bar in the city centre. Garys main knowledge comes from all things gin, especially Scottish brands, whether it is distilling in the gin school, creating new recipes for clients or using product knowledge to help run the brilliant gin masterclasses at 56 North Gin Bar or at Sip Antics. He has enjoyed distilling and creating spirits for around 6 years now; also enjoys visiting as many of the great Scottish Gin Distilleries as he can when he has time off from work.

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    Gary Bradley

    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 for a few years before finally plucking up the courage to open her own venue with business partner John Mclellan. Uno Mas is a late night bar focusing on delicious drinks and great music and opened in February this year!


    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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    Matt Burns BUSINESS JUDGE

    Matt Burns is half the founding duo of Thirst Craft, the Glasgow-based specialist drinks branding agency. Through Thirst Matt has turned his passions into his day job, merging his love of drinks and design. Matt’s...
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    Matt Burns is half the founding duo of Thirst Craft, the Glasgow-based specialist drinks branding agency. Through Thirst Matt has turned his passions into his day job, merging his love of drinks and design.

    Matt’s creatively rare, commercially right ethos has set the creative vision for Thirst from day one. Since its inception in 2015, Thirst has grown from two to fifteen while gaining global acclaim, most recently winning Agency of the Year 2019/20 in the World Brand Design Awards. Working with clients around the world on everything from whisky to wine, beer to CBD drinks, tequila to tonic water and, of course, gin, Thirst sees itself as an extension of the drinks industry and is proud to represent Scotland's creativity on a global platform.

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    Matt Burns

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Mike Carthy TASTE JUDGE

    Mike is Group Executive Chairman of ICB Ltd and has enjoyed over 38 years working in the alcoholic drinks industry. He joined ICB following managerial and directorship roles with Matthew Clark and Continental...
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    Mike is Group Executive Chairman of ICB Ltd and has enjoyed over 38 years working in the alcoholic drinks industry. He joined ICB following managerial and directorship roles with Matthew Clark and Continental Wine & Food.

    Having qualified as a Chartered Chemist and also as a Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, he retained his strong interest in the technical aspects of alcoholic beverages with a particular focus on new product development.

    In 2014, along with his business partner, he co-founded The Spirit of Harrogate and created and launched the Slingsby Gin brand in 2015. Later that year the company’s Retail and Gin Experience opened in Harrogate, this to promote the gin category

    Mike was inducted into The Gin Guild in 2017 and his company are members of the WSTA and the BDA.

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    Mike Carthy

    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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    Marc Crothall BUSINESS JUDGE

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

    The STA has under its umbrella of membership circa 70% of the c14500 tourism facing business that operate length and breadth of the country. The organisation are lead strategic guardians and co-ordinators of Scotland’s national tourism Strategy Tourism Scotland 2020 (TS2020). The STA are also the joint lead with sister trade body Scotland Food and Drink of Scotland’s first Food Tourism Strategy and Marc chairs the National Food Tourism Leadership Board

    Marc is a member of the Tourism Leadership Group (TLG) that has shaped and now steers Tourism Scotland 2020 (TS2020), He chairs the National Tourism Strategy Steering group that has been charged with leading the development of the national tourism strategy and action plan “Beyond2020” the vision of which was revealed at the STA conference in October.

              “Scotland, we will be the world leaders in 21st Century Tourism” 

    He is also the industry representative on the Scottish Government’s High- Level Tourism Working Group (HLTWG) chaired by the Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP, chair of the STA Industry Council is an advisory board member of Springboard Scotland, and a board member of Interface

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

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

    His passion is rugby and he is a lover of all things Scottish, especially his Glaswegian wife, his five Scottish born children 29yrs to twins of 12 and the nation’s food and drink

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    Marc Crothall

    BUSINESS 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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    Sara Jane Eichler Taste Judge

    Sara is co founder and events organiser at Negroni Club Uk and freelance Aperitifs curator at Spirits Kiosk and Spirits Beacon. In 2010 Sara opened the award winning Oliver Conquest Gin House in Aldgate,  and...
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    Sara is co founder and events organiser at Negroni Club Uk and freelance Aperitifs curator at Spirits Kiosk and Spirits Beacon.

    In 2010 Sara opened the award winning Oliver Conquest Gin House in Aldgate, 

    and curated a collection of over 400 gins & Aperitifs from around the world before it closed at the end of 2018. 

    Sara has worked in hospitality for the last 40 years, starting out in the family pub business before working as a Manager with Mitchell’s & Butlers from 1993 to 2010 

    Sara can also be found hanging out with Rex @loveginandrex @negroniclubuk 

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    Sara Jane Eichler

    Taste Judge
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    Jonathan Engels Taste Judge

    Scottish drinks entrepreneur Jonathan Engels has consistently been at the forefront of the industry. Creating one of the first modern craft spirits, Pincer Botanical Vodka in 2006, Followed by Crossbill...
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    Scottish drinks entrepreneur Jonathan Engels has consistently been at the forefront of the industry. Creating one of the first modern craft spirits, Pincer Botanical Vodka in 2006, Followed by Crossbill Distilling in 2012 where he pioneered the use of Scottish juniper in gin production and also created the Crossbill Gin School , Scotland's first gin school. In 2016 he branched out into beer production founding Hidden Lane Organic Brewery. Jonathan was also a founding member of the Scottish Distillers Association and inducted into the Gin Guild as Warden Rectifier in 2016.

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    Jonathan Engels

    Taste Judge
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    Rosalind Erskine TASTE & BUSINESS JUDGE

    Rosalind is a Glasgow-based magazine editor turned digital editor, content creator and broadcaster who is currently working at the Scotsman. After stints in London and Dubai she returned home where she...
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    Rosalind is a Glasgow-based magazine editor turned digital editor, content creator and broadcaster who is currently working at the Scotsman. After stints in London and Dubai she returned home where she has focussed on the fantastic produce available on her doorstep. Alongside her work as food and drink editor at The Scotsman, Rosalind hosts gin tastings, has been on tasting and judging panels for whisky and was the drinks expert on the inaugural series of BBC Scotland’s The Great Food Guys. As the host of Scran, The Scotsman’s award-nominated food and drinks podcast, she has championed all that Scotland’s larder has to offer, sharing stories with some of Scotland’s best loved producers, distillers and stars. When not working, she loves nothing more than visiting bars and restaurants in Glasgow, and travelling further afield for the many food and drink festivals that the country has to offer.

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    Rosalind Erskine

    TASTE & BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Jamie Faulds BUSINESS JUDGE

    Jamie is co-owner and director of Edinburgh-based drinks development agency 3rdparty. For over a decade 3rdparty have been involved with a wide and varied mix of both Scottish and International drinks...
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    Jamie is co-owner and director of Edinburgh-based drinks development agency 3rdparty.

    For over a decade 3rdparty have been involved with a wide and varied mix of both Scottish and International drinks brands; covering many areas including on-trade development and engagement, training and ambassador programs, activations and events, strategy and innovation.  They continue to work with an eclectic portfolio of top-end, established brands and some exciting, emerging players to the market.

    Additionally, in recent years, 3rdparty have played a leading role in the growing ‘mindful drinking /healthy hospo’ sector through their popular ‘Yin of Gin’, ‘Zen of Whisky’ and ‘Retox’ events for both trade and consumers.

    Since 2017 Jamie has worked alongside Gary Anderson on Edinburgh Cocktail Week driving business development and brand engagement, further utilising and extending his network amongst the UK’s drinks and bar trade.  Edinburgh Cocktail Week, returning this October, is now the UK’s biggest such festival outside of London.

    An avid drinks enthusiast, Jamie enjoys the very best of Scotland’s vibrant bar culture and thriving gin industry.

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    Jamie Faulds

    BUSINESS 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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    Adam Hardie CHAIR OF THE JUDGING PANEL

    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.

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    Adam Hardie

    CHAIR OF THE JUDGING PANEL
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    Ally Hardy TASTE JUDGE

    Ally has over 12 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 12 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 and gin subscription club dedicated to Scottish small batch drinks.

    Craft56° now stocks around 120 Scottish gins as well as a range of spirits, gift sets and mixers & soft drinks. Every drink you will find on Craft56° has been sourced from a small batch, independent Scottish producer.

    Ally will always endeavour to develop a relationship directly with the producer to get to know the brand, their story and their products first hand. 

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    Ally Hardy

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Craig Harper TASTE JUDGE

    Craig Harper joined Fever-Tree in 2012 and has over 20 years of drinks industry experience. A proud Scot, Craig’s first experience of the industry began in his father’s pub in Inverness. During...
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    Craig Harper joined Fever-Tree in 2012 and has over 20 years of drinks industry experience. A proud Scot, Craig’s first experience of the industry began in his father’s pub in Inverness.

    During a period in the Royal Marines, Craig began working in award-winning cocktail bars, alongside some of the most widely recognised names in the drinks industry today.

    Craig then worked for a number of premium spirits brands, including at Bacardi and Martin Millers. These roles gave him the opportunity to work closely in the development process, distillation and sales of spirits. During his time at Martin Millers, Craig was introduced to Tim Warrillow and Charles Rolls, who co-founded Fever-Tree in 2005.

    When he joined, Fever-Tree was a small but rapidly growing company, with a range of two tonic waters. Fever-Tree is now the world’s leading supplier of premium carbonated mixers for alcoholic spirits by retail sales value and is sold in 74 countries globally. The brand now has a portfolio of 14 mixers, including Tonic waters, Ginger Ales, Ginger Beer, Cola and Lemonades all available in regular and Refreshingly Light variants. In 2018, the brand was voted #1 Best Selling and Top Trending tonic by the World’s 50 Best Bars (Drinks International) for the fourth year running.

    Craig regularly appears as a keynote speaker at drinks events across the UK, as well as leading master classes on all things gin and tonic related and introducing consumers to the delights of mixing Whiskey and other dark spirits with Fever-Tree’s growing range of mixers.

    Craig is married with three young sons and enjoys running, reading and martial arts, as well as spending time at home in Cornwall.  His drink of choice is a G&T - Tanqueray with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic and large twist of orange peel to be precise!

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    Craig Harper

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Annie Hill TASTE JUDGE

    Dr Annie Hill is Associate Professor and Programme Director of Studies for the MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Brewing & Distilling by Distance Learning at the International Centre for Brewing & Distilling...
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    Dr Annie Hill is Associate Professor and Programme Director of Studies 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. She was part of a 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 has recently completed a second KTP project with Port of Leith on distillery fermentations which has aided decisions for the new build site. She is co-founder of the Scottish Distillers Association and co-winner of the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Multiparty Collaboration Award for the development of a Scottish Botanicals Library.

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    Annie Hill

    TASTE JUDGE
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    John Kennedy BUSINESS JUDGE

    John Kennedy has worked in the drinks industry for over 15 years both within the UK and international markets and has worked in senior roles with some of Scotland’s most celebrated drinks companies. Having...
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    John Kennedy has worked in the drinks industry for over 15 years both within the UK and international markets and has worked in senior roles with some of Scotland’s most celebrated drinks companies.

    Having graduated in 2002 from university in Glasgow with an Honours Degree in accountancy John began his drinks career as a finance graduate with Tennent Caledonian Breweries. After an enjoyable period with TCB, John had a short spell with the Clydesdale Bank before joining Whyte and Mackay in 2007.

    At Whyte and Mackay he worked across a number of finance roles before becoming Commercial Finance Manager for the UK and then the USA overseeing the creation of the Whyte and Mackay Americas business.

    John then moved to Dubai in 2014 to become Head of Commercial Finance at MMI where he spent 2 years as part of the team in the UAE. In 2016 he moved back to Scotland to join BrewDog in Ellon before joining Halewood Wines and Spirits in 2017

    Now Commercial Controller, John manages the sales team in Scotland and oversees a number of important relationships for the business including being the official gin partner of Scottish Rugby.

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    John Kennedy

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Martin Luney Taste Judge

    Belfast born Martin has been in the industry since the age of 14. Spending the start of his career in kitchens – food and flavour pairing has always been a passion. Moving to Scotland in 1994 and...
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    Belfast born Martin has been in the industry since the age of 14. Spending the start of his career in kitchens – food and flavour pairing has always been a passion. Moving to Scotland in 1994 and graduating with a degree in Hotel and Catering Management, Martin made the move from Chef to Management and now is Managing Director of award winning independent bar and restaurant group – Big Red Teapot including Hamilton’s, Treacle, The Blackbird and The Voyage of Buck in Edinburgh – winning a few awards along the way from local Scotland based wins to UK wide and Global competitions  
     Always a supporter of the independent business, Martin also acts as director of The West End Bid – a collective of like minded entrepreneurs supporting the small businesses in Edinburgh’s West end and has appeared in quality food and drink publications including Relish, Scotland the Best and Hospitality Heroes  
     Martin brings a knowledge of current business trends and a passion for flavour pairings to the table and will work with both chefs and bartenders alike to create food and drink menus that bring something different from the norm 
     As far as Gin drinks go – Martin is a life long fan of a classic Martini (very dry, 2 olives) 
    “every gentleman should be able to sew on a button, make hollandaise sauce and be able to produce a great Martini”  

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    Martin Luney

    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 and an...
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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 Huffmans, a premium drinks distributor specialising in independent Scottish gins.

    Starting with only 7 products, Huffmans now works with over 150 Scottish based drinks companies and has over 1000 products (including 300 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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    Michele Mariotti TASTE JUDGE

    Originally from Italy, Michele Mariotti, 32, has taken the reigns of the bar programme as Head of Mixology at Gleneagles Hotel. Before joining the iconic country estate and hotel in Perthshire, he...
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    Originally from Italy, Michele Mariotti, 32, has taken the reigns of the bar programme as Head of Mixology at Gleneagles Hotel. Before joining the iconic country estate and hotel in Perthshire, he was working as Senior Bartender in American Bar at The Savoy, London and more recently as Bar Manager in MO Bar in Mandarin Oriental, Singapore.

    In The Gleneagles, Michele is responsible for overseeing the cocktail offering in all eleven of Gleneagles’ food and beverage venues, training the bar teams to a world-class standard and creating and maintaining good relationships with both local and international suppliers.

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    Michele Mariotti

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Sean Murphy TASTE JUDGE

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

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

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    Sean Murphy

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Johnny Neill TASTE JUDGE

    After beginning his career with a stint in accountancy & finance Johnny found it very difficult to ignore his family roots. In 2005, he launched Whitley Neill Gin, taking inspiration from a family...
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    After beginning his career with a stint in accountancy & finance Johnny found it very difficult to ignore his family roots. In 2005, he launched Whitley Neill Gin, taking inspiration from a family background in brewing and distilling dating back 8 generations. As well as being the founder of Whitley Neill, Johnny is also the owner of H.J. Neill Ltd, a family company with a portfolio of brands in the gin and Irish Whiskey segments.

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    Johnny Neill

    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 2016 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 and, more recently, was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Gin Magazine.

    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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    Martin Reid TASTE JUDGE

    Having spent the last 15 years enjoying gin as a consumer, Martin Reid established The Gin Cooperative along with Co-founder Natalie Reid in December 2017. With a focus on showcasing Scottish Gin as a...
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    Having spent the last 15 years enjoying gin as a consumer, Martin Reid established The Gin Cooperative along with Co-founder Natalie Reid in December 2017. With a focus on showcasing Scottish Gin as a premium spirit created with skill and care in Scotland, The Gin Cooperative has grown to be the premium online resource for all things Scottish Gin.

    With 18 plus years experience working in marketing, branding and advertising, with clients that include global blue chip companies to small independent businesses across a variety of business categories, Martin has enjoyed watching Scotland’s gin makers and brands grow and is passionate about supporting Scotland's thriving and exciting Scottish Gin category.

    Having launched International Scottish Gin Day in 2019, a global celebration of all things Scottish Gin, Martin and Natalie are committed to promoting the Scottish Gin category in a way that puts the focus on the people, the stories, the experiences and products as they continue to encourage the consumer and trade to discover, explore, experience and enjoy Scottish Gin.

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    Martin Reid

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Natalie Reid TASTE JUDGE

    Natalie turned her passion for supporting local producers and exploring new gins into a business venture when she established The Gin Cooperative with husband Martin Reid in 2017. The Gin Cooperative,...
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    Natalie turned her passion for supporting local producers and exploring new gins into a business venture when she established The Gin Cooperative with husband Martin Reid in 2017. The Gin Cooperative, together with International Scottish Gin Day, inspires consumers to discover and explore the Scottish Gin category, sharing the people, the places, the passion and the products behind the brands.

    From the outset, The Gin Cooperative took a stand and defined what they believed a Scottish Gin to be: a spirit produced in Scotland, by a business based in Scotland and made by people that believe in the term Scottish Gin. They went onto meticulously research and list the qualifying brands into their extensive A-Z of Scottish Gin; the world’s largest dedicated Scottish Gin directory.

    Natalie takes great pride in visiting distilleries in all four corners of Scotland and working directly with Scotland’s gin makers; providing The Gin Cooperative visitors with a true, unique, original and behind-the-scenes view of Scotland’s thriving gin sector.

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    Natalie Reid

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Nigel Robertson BUSINESS JUDGE

    As the commercial, partnerships and customer manager for Diageo Whisky Brand Homes, Nigel Robertson’s role is to market and sell all fifteen Diageo Distillery Brand Homes in Scotland. Starting with...
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    As the commercial, partnerships and customer manager for Diageo Whisky Brand Homes, Nigel Robertson’s role is to market and sell all fifteen Diageo Distillery Brand Homes in Scotland. Starting with the highly anticipated Johnnie Walker Princes Street, opening summer 2021.

    Previously as an account and activation manager for Diageo, Nigel Robertson’s role is to distribute Johnnie Walker, the world’s favourite Scotch (IWSR) into the on trade with impactful brand engagements and consumer experiences. Working alongside the route to market wholesale channels. On trade accounts across every area of the industry in GB. Third space activation companies and partnerships within Johnnie Walker sponsorship.

    Nigel has driven the Johnnie Walker highball strategy at scale across outlets in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and at high footfall events including Edinburgh Fringe, Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations. 

    Nigel has also held commercial sales roles in Diageo - across the wider Diageo Reserve portfolio – and in the retail sector.

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    Nigel Robertson

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Ciarán Russell TASTE JUDGE

    Ciarán is the Liquid Innovations Manager at Sipsmith, where he leads on new product development and quality control across the full product portfolio. Following several years working in some of...
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    Ciarán is the Liquid Innovations Manager at Sipsmith, where he leads on new product development and quality control across the full product portfolio. Following several years working in some of Scotland’s best bars, Ciarán completed his MSc in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University with a focus on new product development in gin, and flavour analysis of liquids. He began his career at Sipsmith as Assistant Distiller where he was part of the team conducting the day to day production of all distillates. Ciarán now works across several departments within the distillery to ensure that products are befitting of the company ethos and are being produced to the highest possible standard.

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    Ciarán Russell

    TASTE 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, gained from roles within the spirits industry throughout her whole career. Now a marketing consultant, specialising...
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    Karen is a highly experienced, accomplished and well-respected marketeer with global exposure, gained from roles within the spirits industry throughout her whole career.

    Now a marketing consultant, specialising in the marketing of spirits, utilising 26 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 construction of the new distillery for Hendrick’s to support its growth and ambitious innovation agenda. Stuart is now Strategic development director for William Grant’s; supporting innovation across the distillery business.

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

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

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

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

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    Alan Wolstenholme

    TASTE & BUSINESS JUDGE