The Whisky Show attracts some of the whisky world's most sought-after guests, from writers to whisky makers and ambassadors to distillery owners.
Having started out on Diageo's graduate scheme, Aimée Gibson has risen through the company to be a key part of the blending team. She was the winner of the International Spirits Challenge Rising Star award in 2017.
Aimée works closely with master blender Jim Beveridge and the Johnnie Walker team, specialising in innovation and creating a new generation of whiskies, including the Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch range.
From a lowly start as a tour guide at Glenfarclas distillery, Alan Winchester has risen to hold one of the most sought-after positions in the whisky industry – master distiller for The Glenlivet. He started at the distillery in 1979 as a cooperage labourer and worked his way through cleaning to firing the still, brewing and then, in 2009, to be a master distiller.
On the way, Alan has picked up a wealth of experience, which has made him one of the most knowledgeable distillers in Speyside. We look forward to welcoming him to The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show.
Having cut his teeth in selecting whisky at Prestonfield House hotel, bottling a selection of now legendary whiskies, Andrew Symington founded Signatory Vintage in 1988.
In 2002 he expanded into distilling, buying Edradour distillery. In 2018 Signatory is celebrating it's 30th anniversary and we look forward to years more of excellent whisky.
Andy has one of the more interesting paths into making whisky. He moved from the UK to South Africa in 1982, while playing cricket professionally, and fell in love with the country. He moved over permanently in 1984.
He began working for a winery, and soon took over managing the company's cellars. Along with the wine, he was looking after the companies whisky stocks, and started spending time with Morrison Bowmore in Scotland. After a few years he returned to South Africa full time, and started working at the James Sedgwick distillery. It was mostly making brandy, and Andy helped move it to making whisky. He became manager in 1991, and has shepherded the distillery through huge growth over the past three decades.
He has now taken on a wider role at Distell, becoming head of whisky intrinsic excellence and taking on responsibility for whisky production at all four of the companies distilleries, including Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Ledaig in Scotland.
Angus is a regular contributor to scotchwhisky.com and numerous other publications around the world. One of the co-founders of the Whisky Show Old & Rare, he'll be at the Whisky Show in London promoting next year's event and talking about whisky investment.
He'll also have some exceptional whiskies available as dream drams on the Whisky Exchange Presents stand, so be sure to drop by and say hello.
Scotchwhisky.com was established in October 2015, and with seasoned booze writers Dave Broom and Richard Woodard also at the helm the website has been warmly welcomed by both industry and whisky enthusiasts alike.
As an expert on all distilled beverages, Becky is the former editor of The Spirits Business magazine, and has written for several high profile trade and consumer titles on both food and drink, including The Times, Restaurant, The Good Food Guide and Whisky Quarterly.
She is the only journalist to gain a General Certificate in Distillation with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling – a qualification usually reserved for distillery operators, and is regularly featured as a drinks expert by international media. She also regularly presents educational whisky seminars at global drinks shows including Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and The Whisky Show in London.
After a decade-long stint in IT, in 2011 Billy Abbott took a leap and left the world of finance to embark on a new life as a whisky writer.
Already a whisky blogger and regular at whisky tastings across London, he started work at The Whisky Exchange as a writer for the company's website. Over the years he has taken on a wider role, writing for all of The Whisky Exchange's various projects (including The Whisky Show and this very article) and leading whisky tastings for the company around the world.
Outside of work, he runs Whisky Squad, a London-based whisky tasting club, judges at drinks competitions and writes about whisky for a variety of publications, both print and online. He even sometimes gets a few moments to update his own blog, which will turn 10 years old in 2019. Writing his own bio for The Whisky Show website has been one of the stranger experiences of his whisky career.
Starting out at Irish Distillers in 1976 as a trainee accountant, Billy Leighton jumped at the chance to move into production. In 1988 he took on the role of vatting manager, where initially he oversaw the preparation of whiskey for bottling. Over time the role grew and he gradually took on responsibility for large amounts of the production process – blending, warehousing, maturation and even distilling.
Billy then became deputy chief blender and worked for a number of years with former Jameson master blender and industry legend, Dr Barry Walsh, before taking over the position himself when Barry retired in 2004. He is now responsible for the ongoing production of the Irish Distillers' range, carefully selecting casks to ensure that each whiskey maintains its famous character over time.
Brendan has managed to fit a lot into his first decade of working in the whisky world. A trained Chemical Engineer, he initially worked in the pharmaceutical industry on the south coast of England. But when his girlfriend got homesick for Scotland, they packed up and moved north, where Brendan found work with Diageo.
He quickly rose through the ranks, working on the design of Roseisle, moving to the USA, returning to manage Oban and then taking over as site manager for Diageo's Islay distilleries and Port Ellen maltings.
In 2014, he received a call from Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie's famed head of whisky creation, and was offeref a job on Bill's team. Brendan now heads up the management of the company's maturing whisky stocks, works with Bill Lumsden to create new releases and travels the world as an ambassador for Ardbeg and Glenmorangie.
Born in West Lothian in 1972, Brian studied chemistry at The University of St Andrews, where he met his wife, Lisa. He graduated in 1994 with a first class honours degree and, whilst no formal qualification is required to be a Malt Master, his scientific background and pioneering outlook helps him understand the character of the whisky, the effect of maturation and the possibilities of an ageing whisky.
Brian joined William Grant & Sons in 1997 and soon became an apprentice to David Stewart, Scotland's longest serving Malt Master. Working alongside David for eight years, Brian learned his craft an inherited a passion for whisky. In his role, Brian is responsible for continuing the legacy of William Grant's ambition to create 'the best dram in the valley'. He is in charge of everything from cask selection and overseeing the marrying process to the maturation process within the warehouses.
Brian Nation joined Irish Distillers in 1997 straight from university. A qualified engineer, he oversaw projects in the company's environmental department until 2002, when he became more involved in the production process.
He continued to work in whiskey production while studying to be a distiller and in 2006 was awarded the Worshipful Company of Distillers award for achieving the highest results in the Institute of Brewing and Distilling exams – he is the first Irish distiller to win the award.
Brian trained for ten years at Midleton under former master distiller Barry Crockett, and took over the role when Barry retired in 2013. He is now responsible for the production of all of Irish Distillers whiskey, combining his modern take on whiskey making and engineering with the knowledge and tradition he learned during his long apprenticeship.
Colin's entry into the world of whisky came through a trip to Islay. A trip to Bowmore and a meeting with legendary whisky maker Jim McEwan were all he needed to convince him that his future was in whisky.
Shortly after, he started working for Morrison Bowmore and helped bring Suntory's whiskies to the UK. However, he is best known for where he went then: Diageo.
Colin is one of the UK's best-known drinks ambassadors, running tastings and attending festivals from Lands End to John O'Groats, and even occasionally being allowed to invade the European mainland. Full of boundless energy, he is one of the people that you must meet at The Whisky Show – tell him we sent you...
For over two decades Dave Broom has been a freelance writer covering a wide range of spirits, particularly whisky and rum.
He is Contributing Editor for Whisky Magazine and writes regular articles for its international sister publications, as well as for Whisky Advocate and a range of other specialist drinks magazines. Dave is also Chief Engineer for our news partner, Scotchwhisky.com, contributing regular articles and some of the finest tasting notes the world has ever seen.
A certified Malt Maniac since 2005, Dave has released a number of acclaimed books, including the award-winning Rum, Whisky: The Manual, and The World Atlas of Whisky.
Dominic has been writing about drinks for decades. After working as a news journalist and music writer, he moved into the world of whisky. He has since edited Whisky Magazine and The Spirits Business, as well as writing a number of books. In 2014 he won the Fortnum and Mason Food and Drinks award for best drinks writer.
He is now editor of Whisky Quarterly Magazine and continues to support Leicester City.
Traditionally, bourbon has been all about the Master Distiller, and still is to a degree, but the Master Blender plays a vital role. Each of the whiskies Buffalo Trace produces has its own characteristics, and Drew is repsonsible for ensuring the taste profile and consistency in each bottle. The annual release of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is testament to his expertise.
Drew is a senior member of the American Society for Quality and has been certified as a quality engineer since 1987. He also holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
Georgie Crawford moved to Islay at an early age and grew up in her parents pub. Moving to Edinburgh when she left full-time education, she started working for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. From there she managed a whisky shop in Speyside and then joined Diageo, initially working at Talisker. She moved back to Islay to work at Lagavulin in 2007 and has been home ever since, taking over as distillery manager a few years later.
has recently been announced as the leader of the project to rebuild Port Ellen distillery, and has handed over her duties at Lagavulin. We look forward to seeing what comes next.
Gregg grew up in Scotland and started in the whisky industry as a tour guide at his local distillery. After a number of roles around the business, he joined boutique blender Compass Box in 2005 as a whisky maker, working with John Glaser.
After more than a decade of working on some of the most respected whiskies in the world, Gregg moved to Whyte & Mackay, where he now works directly with Richard Paterson, crafting the companies malts and blends.
A graduate of Reading university, Ian returned to Taiwan and was part of the team who opened Kavalan in 2005. Along with his role as master distiller, he also travels the world as a brand ambassador, presenting the whiskies he has helped to create to whisky fans around the globe.
One of the hardest working brand ambassadors in the business, Ian Logan is seen all over the world talking about Chivas Brothers' whiskies, especially The Glenlivet.
After three decades of working the whisky industry, he knows whisky inside and out. He has a special talent for sniffing out the best casks in the extensive Chivas warehouses, and can sometime be found with something interesting in his pocket...
Ingvar started producing the Malt Whisky Yearbook in 2005 and the yearly release has become a fixture of the whisky calendar. The book is one of the most useful reference works for whisky fans, with profiles of all of the Scottish distilleries, as well as many others from around the world, and articles about the world of whisky from Ingvar and other well-known writers.
While she is not an Islay native, Jackie Thomson has become a key part of the community since she arrived on the Islay in 1997. Part of the team who reopened Ardbeg distillery after it was bought by Glenmorangie, Jackie took over the visitors centre and has helped it grow into one of the island's must-see attractions.
Along with nurturing a team of excellent tour guides and making The Old Kiln Café one of the best places to eat on Islay, Jackie has personally greeted and chatted with hundreds of whisky fans over the years, making herself one of the best known and loved people in the island's whisky community.
If you visit the distillery, you will almost certainly see her rushing about, ensuring that everything is working at its should, and we are very pleased to have enticed her away from Ardbeg for a couple of days at the Whisky Show.
Justin Sloan is an Bourbon geek and entrepreneur, born and raised in the bluegrass.
He is one of the proprietors of Justins' House of Bourbon, which houses the biggest collection in the world of vintage bourbons for sale. As a co-publisher of The Bourbon Review, a 10-year-old bourbon-dedicated publication, he gets to travel the world talking about America's best spirit! Justin also co-founded Bottle Blue Book, a website that collects and tracks sales data on whiskey bottles.
Luca Gargano is a living legend in the rum world. CEO of Velier and discoverer of some of the world's rarest rums, as well as an incredible storyteller, he is one of the most sought after speakers about cane spirits.
He started his rum journey in the 1970s as an ambassador for St James rum, but moved into becoming more corporate in his mid-twenties when he became marketing director for Spirit S.p.a, Italy's largest importer of spirits. However, in 1983 he started the current chapter of his career when he bought into family-run importer Velier.
Velier has expanded over the years and become well known for its rum offerings. Luca has been behind the acquisition of incredibly rare rums for the company, including the last known stocks of spirit from Caroni, closed since 2002 and now one of the most sought after rums in the world. He has also worked with distilleries across the Caribbean to create new rums, including Bielle on Marie Galante, where his own Rhum Rhum spirit is made.
Luca is also the creator of the Gargano Classification of rum, trying to introduce some order to the often confused world of rum.
Lukasz travels the world spreading the good news about anCnoc, Balblair, Speyburn, Hankey Bannister and, at this year's show, Old Pulteney.
Starting as a guide at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Lukasz became well-known in the whisky industry as the editor of the award-winning Edinburgh Whisky Blog.
After a few years of working as a consultant for a variety of whisky brands, running tastings, helping design new products and training, he decided to settle down and work solely with one of his major clients – Inver House. He is now a whisky ambassador and educator for the company, appearing at tastings and festivals around the world.
The name McEwan is well known in Islay whisky circles, and Lynne has followed her father Jim into the business. Starting in 2001 at Bruichladdich, working with Jim McEwan and the team who started the distillery's renaissance, she has spent the past two decades working her way through the business.
Now Global Brand Manager, a title she keeps quiet when talking about herself, Lynne divides her time between the distillery and working on the road, spreading her love of Bruichladdich to the world.
Oliver Chilton has worked in the whisky industry for most of his life. After abandoning a life as a barista for the bright lights of the whisky shop opposite, he hasn't looked back.
After work as a brand ambassador at whisky shows across the country, he started at The Whisky Exchange at London Bridge. He quickly rose through the ranks and helped to organise the Whisky Show in 2012, before taking over as show runner.
However, whisky creation is his first love, and he moved to Whisky Exchange HQ to take over the company's cask development and bottling program. With the creation of Elixir Distillers as a separate piece of the business, Oliver took on the role of whisky creator and now selects, blends and bottles whisky for both Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, focusing on the Port Askaig, Elements of Islay and Single Malts of Scotland ranges.
Born into a rum family, it seems only natural that Richard Seale is known as one of the best rum makers in the world. His great grandfather, Reginal Leon Seale, founded a rum distributor in 1926, and over the past the company has grown and has now built its own distillery, Foursquare.
Foursquare has increasingly become known for producing some of the Caribbean's finest rums, and Richard is an ambassador for the distillery and rum in general. With a focus on purity of spirit and transparency, he is a man to seek out if you want to learn more about the world of rum.
A degree in genetics might seem an unusual route into the drinks industry, but for spirits expert and whisk(e)y ambassador Stefanie Holt, it was a part-time job in a cocktail bar while at uni that took her into an industry where she could combine science, creativity and fun.
Stef started working in some of Edinburgh’s top bars, impressing in cocktail competitions and winning numerous accolades, leading to her moving to London and being appointed as bars manager at Soho’s Groucho Club, where she trained up her bar team on the provenance and production of the spirits served in the venue. She also featured on Gardeners’ World making cocktails using fresh herbs.
She was then appointed as El Dorado Rum’s UK brand ambassador, gaining many plaudits for her public speaking and top-notch masterclass hosting skills. Then in 2010, having been named UK Brand Ambassador of the Year at the Golden Rum Barrel Awards, she was asked to join Demerara Distillers to champion the El Dorado brand internationally. She was awarded the title of International Brand Ambassador of the Year in 2012 and spent five years travelling the world spreading the gospel of good rum.
Stef joined Speciality Brands in 2015 as the ambassador for their enviable world whisk(e)y portfolio and rhapsodises about the golden nectar around the country. Whether it be training bartenders, entertaining consumers, pairing whiskies with food or pouring drams to the thirsty masses at shows and events, her explanations of flavour, production and history really help bring her whisk(e)y brands to life. Along with her experience in growing young brands and reputation in the industry, she brings her Scottish heritage and passion for whiskies from all over the world to the fore in her role.
Sukhinder has grown up in the drinks business. In 1971 his family opened an off license in Hanwell, west London – The Nest – and both Sukhinder and his brother Rajbir helped out in the shop. Sukhinder started to collect miniature bottles of whisky, and after progressing to full-sized bottles became well known as a buyer and seller of whisky. When his parents decided to retire, rather than take over the shop, he and his brother decided to create a new business online: The Whisky Exchange.
Over the past 19 years, The Whisky Exchange has grown from a small operation running out of the family home to being the largest specialist retailer of spirits online. Sukhinder has continued to collect whisky and now owns the world's largest collection of Port Ellen.