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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    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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    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

    Marc is 60 years young, prior to being appointed in May 2012 as the first CEO of The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) he held many senior executive positions in the hotel, leisure and events industry both...
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    Marc is 60 years young, prior to being appointed in May 2012 as the first CEO of The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) he held many senior executive positions in the hotel, leisure and events industry both in the UK and abroad.  He co-chairs Scotland’s Tourism and Hospitality Leadership Group (THILG) with Scotland’s Tourism Minister Ivan Mckee. The group being responsible for Scotland’s national tourism strategy Scotland Outlook 2030. Marc also chairs the National Food Tourism Leadership Board  and is a board member of Apprenticeship in Hospitality Scotland Interface and an advisory board member of Springboard (Scotland) and TravelTech Scotland

    Marc was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday Honours for services to the Tourism industry in Scotland and in 2020 was awarded the “Fellowship” by the Scottish Hotel industry for his outstanding contribution to the industry.

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    Marc Crothall

    BUSINESS 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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    Adam Hardie CHAIR OF THE JUDGING PANEL

    Johnston Carmichael are Scotland’s largest firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, advising over 500 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 500 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 clients on strategic growth and funding options.  Adam is very well connected across, spirits, brewing, the wider industry and regularly makes introductions across his network of business leaders, investors and intermediaries to help clients grow. 

    Adam is Chairman of The Scottish Gin Awards and a judge with The Scottish Beer Awards and In Drinks Catalyst, the drinks accelerator.

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    Adam Hardie

    CHAIR OF THE JUDGING PANEL
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    Jamie Faulds BUSINESS JUDGE

    Jamie has worked in and around the Scottish drinks and hospitality industry for almost two decades. As co-owner and founder of Edinburgh-based drinks development agency 3rdparty he’s been involved...
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    Jamie has worked in and around the Scottish drinks and hospitality industry for almost two decades.

    As co-owner and founder of Edinburgh-based drinks development agency 3rdparty he’s

    been involved with an eclectic mix of both Scottish and international drinks brands; covering areas including on-trade development and engagement, training and ambassador programs, activations and events, strategy and innovation.

    Since 2017 Jamie has worked alongside Gary Anderson on Edinburgh Cocktail Week driving business development and brand engagement, further 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.

    Most recently, in 2022, Jamie launched an innovative new agency – Bloom Fresh Creative – working across sectors delivering creative solutions, campaigns and content for a growing portfolio of both established brands and some exciting, emerging players to the market.

    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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    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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    Annie Hill TASTE JUDGE

    Annie is Professor at the International Centre for Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University. She is Programme Director for the MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Brewing & Distilling by Distance...
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    Annie is Professor at the International Centre for Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University. She is Programme Director for the MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Brewing & Distilling by Distance Learning and her research interests currently involve distilled spirits production.

    Annie is cofounder of the Scottish Distillers Association and a member of the Scottish Government Cross Party Group on Scotch Whisky. She is the co-editor of the recently published Distilled Spirits text with Dr Frances Jack and has served as a judge for the Scottish Gin Awards since 2017.

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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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    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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    Sean Murphy TASTE JUDGE

    Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for the Daily Record and the Live sites and has recently published his first book. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and...
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    Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for the Daily Record and the Live sites 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 50 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 50 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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    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 businesses become brands, and to make these brands become famous. With a career spanning...
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    David runs his own Edinburgh-based consultancy Because Brands Matter. The business has one sole objective; To make businesses become brands, and to make these brands become famous.

    With a career spanning 36 years, David has worked both agency and client side and has successfully assisted several food and drink manufacturers. These include
    names such as Glenmorangie, Drambuie, Smirnoff, Tennent’s, Lind & Lime, Kintyre Gin, Mother’s Pride, Border Biscuits and Walkers. Using his unique Brand Repositioning process, he has helped hundreds of businesses, across a variety of sectors, develop their purpose, reframe their proposition, hone their marketing strategies 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 “A promiscuous gin drinker” and is keen to assist any brand looking to increase their share of voice and capture market share.

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    David Reid

    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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    Agnieszka B. Śledź TASTE JUDGE

    2009 started as a Commis Sommelier and at the same time was working as a bartender I have been a 1ST woman in UK holding title of Cellar Master Have been invited to re-open Golf Clubhouse at the Gleneagles...
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    2009 started as a Commis Sommelier and at the same time was working as a bartender

    • I have been a 1ST woman in UK holding title of Cellar Master
    • Have been invited to re-open Golf Clubhouse at the Gleneagles Hotel and was looking after bar, wines and a cigar lounge
    • Moved to restaurant as a Sommelier
    • I have worked with the events as a Senior Beverage Supervisor overlooking functions and assisting guest with the wine selection. Also , at that time I was in charge of the wine and whisky tastings
    • Year after have been offered a role of the Senior Sommelier at the main Strathearn restaurant and Progressed to Head Sommelier and Cellar Master
    • Fee years later I have moved over to purchasing.

    So, at the moment I'm a Cellar Master/Wine buyer.

    • I also overlook outlets for wine, beer and whisky.
    • I have done my WSET in wine and spirit, Whisky Ambassador and have take a part of a few competitions.
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    Agnieszka B. Śledź

    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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    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 28 years’ experience, she is focussed on adding value to fledgling, growing or established businesses.

    Karen has recently worked on a number of gin brands, some international, some UK based, working on projects to maximise the distribution potential in the UK market, and beyond.

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    Karen Walker

    BUSINESS 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
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    Tony Pert TASTE JUDGE

    Tony Pert has been in and around the hospitality industry his whole life, working in various units around Edinburgh. His love for gin really started to grow when he opened The Jolly Botanist,...
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    Tony Pert has been in and around the hospitality industry his whole life, working in various units around Edinburgh. His love for gin really started to grow when he opened The Jolly Botanist, a multi-award winning gin bar based in the West End of Edinburgh which features a unique, perfect serve gin menu with around 150 gins alongside great food and quirky decor. After running The Jolly for six years he has now moved onto an operational role within the family company which now operates four bars in total.

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    Tony Pert

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Debargha Ganguly TASTE JUDGE

    Debargha is a 2017 graduate of Brewing & Distilling from Heriot Watt University specialising in sensory analysis. His MSc. thesis was in collaboration with SWRI focusing on sensory profiling of bourbon...
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    Debargha is a 2017 graduate of Brewing & Distilling from Heriot Watt University specialising in sensory analysis. His MSc. thesis was in collaboration with SWRI focusing on sensory profiling of bourbon and rye spirts based on their grist composition and maturation in toasted and untoasted cask.

     

    He joined Cara Technology in 2018 as sensory scientist and then stayed as sensory manager till mid-2021. He has been part of an expert taster panel at Cara evaluating whisky, beer, gin, neutral spirits, tea, coffee, water and Aroxa flavour standards. He has also been associated with Scottish gin and whisky awards since its inception in 2018 and 2019. He is a certified Cicerone. He enjoys aroma of  β-Farnesene and α-Humulene in his beer and Guaiacol and 4-Methyl Phenol in his spirits.

     

    Presently he is Business Development Manager (Europe) at MMR Research focusing on innovations in FMCG. He is also pursuing his masters in Strategic Marketing from Imperial Business School.

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    Debargha Ganguly

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Andrew Gordon TASTE JUDGE

    Andrew Gordon - Founder at The Gin Den and The Spirits Explorer Blogs  With a significant passion for the spirits industry and supporting distillers, Andrew founded The Gin Den blog in early...
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    Andrew Gordon - Founder at The Gin Den and The Spirits Explorer Blogs 

    With a significant passion for the spirits industry and supporting distillers, Andrew founded The Gin Den blog in early 2018 and has spent the last five years consulting, writing and visiting distillers across the UK and hosting live and virtual tasting events with a high level of focus on the Scottish Gin Industry. In that time he has grown his personal collection of Gins to over 600 from around the world

     

    This year Andrew's Distillery visits will take him across Speyside through Skye, Raasay and the length of the Outer Hebrides.

     

    In 2023 he also founded The Spirits Explorer blog with a strong focus on the Scottish Whisky and Rum sector.

     

    Andrew is WSET Spirits Qualified, has over 30 years experience within the retail, hospitality and event sectors

     

    Andrew can be found on Social Media @the_gin_den  @thespiritsexplorer

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    Andrew Gordon

    TASTE JUDGE
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    James Porteous TASTE JUDGE

    James is the founder and distiller of the Electric Spirit Company, producing spirits in Leith, Edinburgh. As a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, James previously consulted on brand experience for...
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    James is the founder and distiller of the Electric Spirit Company, producing spirits in Leith, Edinburgh.

    As a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, James previously consulted on brand experience for numerous multi-national businesses, before returning to Scotland and enrolling on the Brewing & Distilling MSc at Heriot Watt. He graduated with distinction, receiving the Brewers’ Company Prize as the course’s top student, as well as the Watt Club Medal as dux litterarum in the School of Life Sciences.

    He founded Electric in late 2014, beginning production on a 20 litre still in a tiny industrial unit. The company has since increased capacity and expanded distribution around the world, winning at the Scottish Gin Awards and being named as the coolest spirit brand in Scotland by The Herald, with Ian Buxton placing Electric “at the cutting edge of the vibrant Scottish craft distilling scene” in 101 Gins to Try Before You Die.

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    James Porteous

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Alasdair Shaw TASTE JUDGE

    Alasdair Shaw’s first experience of hospitality was at 15 when he started in the kitchen of Glasgow’s iconic Italian restaurant Eusebi’s. It was while studying Mathematics at Glasgow...
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    Alasdair Shaw’s first experience of hospitality was at 15 when he started in the kitchen of Glasgow’s iconic Italian restaurant Eusebi’s. It was while studying Mathematics at Glasgow University that his passion for bartending was realised, working in some of Glasgow best bars including Bath Street Pony, Drugstore Social and Porter & Rye. In 2012 Alasdair won The Bar Apprentice of the Year, a bartending competition that see’s young bartenders from across the UK go through a month long training programme to find the next bartending star in the UK. The next chapter in his career saw him move from behind the bar to become Scotland’s first Arbikie Brand Ambassador in 2016 then climbing to the Head of UK Sales by 2019. Since 2019 Alasdair has been running The Gate alongside Andy Gemmell, showcasing new & exciting Scottish produce in a pub setting.

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    Alasdair Shaw

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Katrina Ross TASTE JUDGE

    I’m Katrina Ross and love anything food and drink related. I have studied it at Abertay for over 5 years, have worked in the Industry as a Food Technologist and Nutritionist for over 4 years. Currently...
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    I’m Katrina Ross and love anything food and drink related. I have studied it at Abertay for over 5 years, have worked in the Industry as a Food Technologist and Nutritionist for over 4 years. Currently I am a Researcher back at Abertay working on a project Transform Net Zero, alongside food and drink companies to investigate adding value to any by products. I have been a judge for the craft butchers and now even more delighted to be a judge with gin products to which I have had plenty of experience drinking!

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    Katrina Ross

    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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    Amelie Tassin TASTE JUDGE

    Amelie Tassin is the Founder and Director of Tipple Marketing, a marketing and strategy agency specialised in food and drink, based in Edinburgh, Scotland.  With over 15 years experience, Amelie...
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    Amelie Tassin is the Founder and Director of Tipple Marketing, a marketing and strategy agency specialised in food and drink, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

    With over 15 years experience, Amelie has worked across several European sectors from retail banking and property development to cosmetics and food and drink. Her agency's work is truly 'the Swiss Army knife of marketing' and offers tailored services for all needs thanks to Amelie's wealth of cross-industry experience.

    She’s the founder of the successful Women In Beer Festival (WIB Fest), a celebration of women and non-binary individuals in the industry with an impressive roster of events including tap takeovers, talks, and tastings. 

    A fierce advocate for more equality and inclusivity in the food and drink industry, Amelie also organises workshops and inclusivity training designed to help businesses improve their DEI practices and provide a safe and welcoming environment for their team and customers.

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    Amelie Tassin

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Kayleigh Johnston TASTE JUDGE

    Kayleigh works in New Liquid Development for Wm Grant & Sons Ltd, and has developed a wide range of products including gin, rum, whisky, tequila, vodka and low/no products during her career. Having...
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    Kayleigh works in New Liquid Development for Wm Grant & Sons Ltd, and has developed a wide range of products including gin, rum, whisky, tequila, vodka and low/no products during her career.

    Having started as a student in the lab, Kayleigh has now been in the industry for over 15 years. She is a qualified Master Brewer and has vast experience working across both technical and production functions.

    Kayleigh’s job is all about flavour and quality - blending science and art to create a seamless taste experience.

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    Kayleigh Johnston

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Joe Hornig TASTE JUDGE

    Joe is the Liquid Quality & Innovations Manager at Sipsmith, where he leads on new product development and continuous improvement within the distillery. Having spent years working as a cocktail bartender...
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    Joe is the Liquid Quality & Innovations Manager at Sipsmith, where he leads on new product development and continuous improvement within the distillery. Having spent years working as a cocktail bartender in the bars of Scotland and Australia, Joe went on to complete his MSc in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in his native Edinburgh. He began his career at Sipsmith as Assistant Distiller, where he was part of the team responsible for the production of Sipsmith’s core range. He also spent time as distillery manager and now works cross-functionally within the distillery to ensure that distilling practices are maintained to the highest standard.

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    Joe Hornig

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Fran Orlando TASTE JUDGE

    Francesco is a Distiller at Sipsmith, where he has been running and maintaining three copper pot stills, and assisting with new product development for the past three years. He started his career in the...
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    Francesco is a Distiller at Sipsmith, where he has been running and maintaining three copper pot stills, and assisting with new product development for the past three years. He started his career in the gin industry, whilst completing his BSc in Material Science and Engineering, with two years as a Sipsmith BA followed by a year in marketing, before finally making the move into production.

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    Fran Orlando

    TASTE JUDGE
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    Jason Dobson BUSINESS JUDGE

    With more than 20 years’ experience in delivering NPD, creative campaigns and activations for Contagious, Jason is responsible for the delivery of business and brand strategic approaches. In partnership...
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    With more than 20 years’ experience in delivering NPD, creative campaigns and activations for Contagious, Jason is responsible for the delivery of business and brand strategic approaches. In partnership with the brand owners, investors, stakeholders and marketing teams of start-up, emerging and established brands, Jason develops drinks brands that challenge the status quo, have purpose and meaning and inspire better choices.

    A specialist in the drinks sector, Jason has delivered brand and product strategy and brand activations in the U.K, Europe, Asia, Australia, Mexico, and the U.S. He has worked with some of the sector’s most recognised global companies including Pernod Ricard, Proximo, Diageo, Maison Ferrand and LVMH, alongside developing and launching new and maturing brands and products in the UK for Lind & Lime Gin, Ninefold Rum, Drop Works Rum, Burnt Faith English Brandy and One Point Six Whisky from The Spirit of Manchester Distillery.

    Jason also lectures at Heriot Watt University on Brand and Consumer Experience and Marketing and Brand Strategy, he is also a member of the faculty at the Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition, Jason holds advisory board positions for the Scottish American Business Council and The Golden Moon Distillery in Golden, Colorado.

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    Jason Dobson

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Lindsay Blair BUSINESS JUDGE

    Lindsay has worked in the drinks industry for over 10 years. Beginning her career in hospitality, she went on to work for Daffy’s gin in its infancy as Global Brand Ambassador. She then completed...
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    Lindsay has worked in the drinks industry for over 10 years. Beginning her career in hospitality, she went on to work for Daffy’s gin in its infancy as Global Brand Ambassador. She then completed an MSc in brewing and distilling with entrepreneurship and subsequently went on to launch South Loch Gin as head of production. Now as key account manager at Edrington UK, Lindsay works with the top luxury accounts in Edinburgh with key brands such as The Macallan, Highland Park and House of Suntory.

    Lindsay brings a wealth of experience from her diverse roles across the industry in sales, marketing and production. When she’s not propped up at the bar waiting for a whisky, you’ll find her lifting bars, competing in powerlifting competitions

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    Lindsay Blair

    BUSINESS JUDGE
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    Mark Billington DL TASTE JUDGE

    Mark Billington DL embarked on his entrepreneurial journey at Harrods, after 8 years leaving his buying position, he moved to Glasgow in 1996 to take on role of Managing Director of an Italian Restaurant...
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    Mark Billington DL embarked on his entrepreneurial journey at Harrods, after 8 years leaving his buying position, he moved to Glasgow in 1996 to take on role of Managing Director of an Italian Restaurant Chain, before founding Billington's Deli in 2012 with his wife Sue.

    Specialising in artisan and locally sourced products. His commitment to quality earned recognition, leading to accolades such as Glasgow's Best Deli and Single Outlet Retailer of the Year, at Icon of Gin Awards. Simultaneously, Mark serves as Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire, showcasing his dedication to public service. Mark teaches his knowledge as an approved programme provider for WSET for wines and spirits.

    In 2018, he expanded his ventures with the launch of Lenzie Gin, marking another milestone in his illustrious career. Mark's multifaceted achievements culminated in Lenzie Gin winning Gold for London Dry Scottish Gin of the Year and Gin of the Year in 2019 and Lenzie Gin Liqueur receiving Gold for Best Liqueur in 2022.

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    Mark Billington DL

    TASTE JUDGE