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 Morrison 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 and Johnnie Walker Private Collection 2017.
With a career in the drinks industry spanning more than twenty years, Alex Bruce is now best known as the leader of the team behind Ardnamurchan distillery.
He started in working in the drinks world at Rémy Cointreau in 1996, and joined Adelphi in 2004 as sales and marketing director. He helped build the company over the next decade, growing its independent bottling wing as well as building Ardnamurchan. He became managing director in 2015, and is leading the company into a productive and exciting future.
Passionate and curious, Alexandre Gabriel is a tireless entrepreneur who never stops in his search of perfection. An artisan, farmer and businessman, he delivers the best product by implementing the most advanced and precise production methods, and knows that a great cognac or a superior rum is above all a powerful emotion to be shared.
In the 1990s, Alexandre Gabriel combed the Caribbean in search of the best rums of the region. Plantation was born - a craft range of rums from the great terroirs of the tropics. Fifteen years of dedicated rum-making later, in 2012, Alexandre was awarded 'Master Blender' in the World’s Best rum awards, won the prestigious 'Golden Barrel Awards' and was named 'Distiller of the Year' by The American Institute.
His latest project, Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry, launched in 2018 has so far picked up seven top awards including ’Best Spirit’ at the Berlin Mixology awards, ‘Rum Category Winner’ at the UK Class Awards and scored 97 points in both the Ultimate Spirits Challenge and Wine Enthusiast.
Antonio was, quite literally, born on top of the Tio Pepe solera – his father was a Gonzalez Byass winemaker and he was born in the family's apartment, upstairs from the cellars. Having grown up among casks of sherry he became a cellar-hand and begun his rise to the top of the company – chief winemaker and master blender.
A winner of the IWC Merchant Spanish Wine Maker of the Year and Fortified Wine Maker of the year awards in 2016, Antonio is a very hands-on producer, inspecting inspecting the casks himself and spending as much time with them as he did when a child.
He is attending the show with Whyte & Mackay, who are well-known for using Gonzalez Byass's sherry casks, especially when making Dalmore whiskies. Antonio and master blender Richard Paterson work closely together to create the perfect casks to mature the distiller's whiskies.
When you have a glass of Jerez you must not only think that you are enjoying a great wine, but an enological miracle, based on our soil, grape varieties, ageing system – unique only to Jerez – and the knowledge that has been passed down through generations dedicated to caring for our wines.
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.
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.
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.
After graduating in Business, Clémentine Guillot worked as a digital marketing manager for international companies. But she ditched the nine-to-five and started a new adventure as a rum ambassador – an opportunity which has now become a passion.
Clémentine loves teaching people about rhum agricole, especially those made by the Damoiseau family in Guadeloupe. She hosts masterclasses and parties to showcase the distillery's unique rhums to drinkers around the globe.
Born and bred in Indiana, Dan McKee moved to Kentucky to pursue his dream – becoming a whiskey maker.
Starting as a distillery operator at Jim Beam, he was soon promoted to be distillery supervisor at the company's Booker Noe distillery. During his time there, he worked with Pam Heilmann, who later became Michter's master distiller. When Pam started looking for an assistant, he was the obvious choice.
At Michter's he worked with Pam and master of maturation Andrea Wilson to supervise the construction of the company's Shively Distillery. Now, with Pam Heilmann retiring, he is stepping up to take her place as the company's master distiller, and is working to bring the Michter's Fort Nelson distillery online, further expanding Michter's capacity to make whiskey, and delving into the history of the brand.
Starting work in education and the media in the 1980s, David moved into the wine trade and managed a busy bar in the City of London. In 1990 he left the capital and moved to East Anglia, where he worked for the civil service for more than a decade as a manager. In 2001 he returned to the drinks business and joined Greene King, where he began to learn the art of brewing. After six years he had become a shift brewer, with extensive experience of beer-making.
In July 2007 David joined the newly established English Whisky Company, training with head distiller Iain Henderson, formerly of Laphroaig, until his retirement later in the year. Since then, David has overseen the growth of The English Whisky Company from being a newcomer in the industry to becoming a respected producer. His work with cask management has led to their development of a number of interestingly finished and matured whiskies, and sneak peeks into their warehouses show that they have a lot more up their sleeves.
David started work at Bowmore on 4 June 1990 – he was 16, arriving fresh out of school to work in the warehouses. Over the years David has worked in most parts of the distillery, from the malt barns and mash house, to becoming head distiller in 2006. In 2012 he was appointed distillery manager, the position he holds today.
If you visit the distillery you might bump into David helping out with distillery tours, which he still finds time for. He, like us at The Whisky Show, is a big fan of old Bowmore, with tropical fruit bombs from the 1950s and 1960s being special favourites.
Main image courtesy of Malt Imposter.
The third generation of his family to work at Glen Grant, Dennis Malcolm was born in the distillery's grounds in 1946. He started at the distillery at 15 years old and has since gone on to work in every part of a distillery.
He's not been confined solely to Glen Grant, running Strathisla and the rest of the Chivas Brother's portfolio, but Glen Grant has always been his first love and when he was offered the chance to run it in 2006 he took up the challenge. He is now responsible for keeping the distillery's whisky on track as well as creating new bottlings.
His achievements have not gone unnoticed with the IWSC Outstanding Achievement in Scotch Whisky award and Whisky Advocate Lifetime Achievement award in 2015 and an OBE in 2016.
We are very pleased to be welcoming Dennis back to Whisky Show.
Working out Des McCagherty's job title is hard. He's part of the small team that runs both Signatory Vintage and Edradour, and is owner Andrew Symington's right-hand man when it comes to keeping things running smoothly.
A long-time friend of The Whisky Exchange, we're very pleased to have been able to tempt him down from Scotland to visit us again for Whisky Show 2019.
Doug McIvor is one of the most respected whisky experts in the industry, with a career spanning four decades.
Starting in the wine trade in 1986, he moved to Milroy's in 1990 and started to specialise in spirits. Having been taught the ins-and-outs of both whisky and the whisky industry, Doug moved to Berry Bros. and Rudd in 2001. He expanded the company's whisky offerings and helped them branch out into international markets.
Now, almost twenty years later, Berry Bros. are again one of the world's most respected whisky bottlers, and the range has stretched out into rum and other spirits. Doug has been a regular attendee at the show since the first year, and we are very pleased to have him back.
Florent Beuchet comes from the world of wine, but after 18 months of working New York in the rum business, he was hooked. He arrived back in France and started his own independent bottler: Compagnie des Indes.
He now has a wide range of rums available through his label, with more appearing all the time. With the world of rum booming, he is at the forefront of the new wave of bottlers, and we are very pleased to welcome him to Whisky Show.
Nearly 35 years ago, Booker Noe II gave Fred his first job at the distillery as the Night Shift Bottling Line Supervisor. From there Fred worked his way up, learning every job at the distillery.
In 2007 he was named Master Distiller of Jim Beam. Under his guidance, Jim Beam has become the #1 selling bourbon in the world. And in 2017, Booker’s Rye Whiskey was named World Whisky of the Year.*
Iain McAlister hails from Campbeltown and has worked at Glen Scotia for more than nine years.
He leads his small team of seven from the front, and is hands on with day-to-day production at the distillery. With distillery currently increasing its production as it gains popularity, Iain is always on hand to ensure that Glen Scotia grows without letting the quality of its spirit dip.
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...
Recently published, The Whisky Dictionary is his eleventh book, and he writes for publications including Whisky Magazine and Malt Whisky Yearbook.
He conducts tutored tastings, classes and courses, judges competitions, and visits distilleries regularly to keep learning. He is a Master of the Quaich and a Musketeer of Armagnac.
A native of Islay, John Campbell started at Laphroaig in 1994. He's worked his way around the distillery, at some point or another doing every part of whisky-making, and became assistant manager in 2001, and later manager.
As with all Laphroaig managers, he's left his own unique mark on the distillery, especially with the Friends of Laphroaig. Pioneered by John and take by him all around the world, the global Laphroaig fanclub goes from strength to strength. With almost a million members for 160 countries, John splits his time between ambassadorship and running the distillery.
It's rare to be able to get him to come to shows in the UK, as he's normally much further flung, so it's a delight to be able to welcome him to Whisky Show this year.
Keith Cruickshank started working in the whisky world in 1990, and started at Benromach in 1998. Two years later he took over as manager and now looks after the distillery's whisky, from still to bottle.
He's a familiar face to visitors to the distillery, and can normally be found between the still room and warehouses, checking to make sure that everything is running. He also leads manager's tours around Benromach and, very occasionally, appears at whisky shows – we're very pleased to welcome him to ours.
Matt Hoffman is not only the driving force behind production at Seattle’s Westland Distillery, but also a key member of the American Whiskey production scene. As a director of the American Craft Spirits Association, a founder of the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission, and a member of both the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and the American Society of Brewing Chemists, he both contributes to the science of whiskey making and helps guide and promote the American whiskey industry.
Most recently, he was recognised as one of America’s ’30 under 30 tastemakers’ by Forbes Magazine and was the second distiller to be named a Rising Star by StarChefs magazine.
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 maker 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.
Peter Lynch is a man with big shoes to fill. Having taken over his role from from the late Dave Pickerell, a true whiskey legend, he is leading the way for WhistlePig, continuing Dave's work as well as making his own mark on the distiller's ongoing rise.
Growing up outside of Boston, Pete originally looked towards career in finance. But after studying Spanish and English, he ended up in Vermont working in a liquor store. With the whiskey bug firmly embedded, he became interested in blending and landed a dream job distilling at WhistlePig alongside Dave Pickerell. After Dave's passing, Pete picked up the reins and now leads WhistlePig's whiskey production, cask selection and blending, both honouring his mentor's legacy and forging a new future for the company.
Since starting work in the whisky industry in 1974, Ronnie Cox has travelled the world, bringing his infectious love of fine wine and whisky to every country he's visited.
His first drinks job, in the international sales and marketing team at The Distillers Company Ltd, followed on from time working for wine companies in France and Germany, and his globetrotting has continued to the present day. With stints across Europe and many tales of time spent in South America, he is very much a global personality in the drinks world.
These days, he can more often be found in the UK, extolling the virtues of the Berry Bros. portofolio of fine spirits, from whisky to gin, with the occasional rum and liqueur thrown in for good measure.
Scott was born in Inverness and brought up in Ross Shire, to the north of Speyside. While studying for a degree in Scottish History he became Tomatin's "Research Intern" and hasn't left the distillery since.
Starting as a regional sales manager in Europe, he came back to the distillery and lived and worked on site for four years. After a brief spell at Whyte & Mackay, he returned to Tomatin in 2018 has global brand ambassador, the first for the distillery. He now focuses on telling the world about Tomatin, as well as working on cask selection and whisky making.
Shinji Fukuyo joined Suntory in 1984, at the age of 23. He transferred to the whisky blending department in 1992 and quickly rose through the ranks. After four years studying at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh he moved to work in the Morrison Bowmore team in 1999, creating whiskies for Bowmore, Glen Garioch and Auchentoshan.
He returned to Japan in 2006 as the director of the whisky blending department and in 2009 became chief blender for the whole of Suntory, only the fourth person to have held the prestigious position.
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.
Starting his career at Yoichi distillery just after entering the company in 1982, Tadashi Sakuma has a wide experience making, covering production, aging, procurement of raw materials and quality control.
From 1995 to 2001, he was based in London and travelled throughout Europe as the General Manager of Nikka's European office. In April 2012 he was appointed chief blender and manager of the Nikka's blending section, continuing the company's blending techniques and philosophy, inherited from whisky legend, Nikka founder Masataka Taketsuru.
This year, Nikka is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Miyagikyo, and at the show Sakuma will be showcasing the beauty of whiskies from the distillery.
Alexander 'Zan' Kong was born and grew up near Toronto in Canada, part of a large Chinese-Jamaican family. However, when offered the chance to move to Jamaica and work in the world of rum, he jumped at the chance.
His rum journey with Worthy Park began in 2015 after a chance meeting with his (now) boss, Gordon Clarke, and he joined the Worthy Park team to develop and grow the export side of the business. In his current capacity he wears many hats, from sales to marketing to product development, and is both brand advocate and educator for the distillery, taking his love of Worthy Park around the world.
Come and say hello at the Worthy Park stand at the show, for a chat about all things Jamaica, Worthy Park and of course rum!