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.
Anthony has worked in the drinks industry for 35 years, and for the last 20 years has been involved in the international sales and marketing of premium single malts. In 2001 he began work on putting together a project to build a farm distillery on Islay. In 2005 Kilchoman Farm Distillery started production and in September 2009 released their first single malt to international acclaim.
Anthony will be at the show on Sunday and during the trade session.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
Formerly for Heineken, in 2016 Dhavall Gandhi became whiskymaker for The Macallan. He now heads up the team at The Lakes distillery, crafting whisky, gin and vodka.
Specialising in maturation and blending, he has helped define The Lakes' style and create its inaugural whiskies. With casks still maturing and experimentation still happening, we look forward to seeing what's next from Dhavall and The lakes.
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.
Dr Kirstie McCallum
Kirstie McCallum started in the whisky world as a chemist, and after some time working at a grain distillery moved on to become the youngest female blender in Scotland. After a few years she moved into a global brand ambassador role but has now returned to the lab, where she looks after blending for Distell International, working on single malts from Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory as well as the company's blended whiskies.
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.*
Georgie Bell has spent her entire adult life telling people about whisky, and has built up a fearsome reputation in the industry, both academically and as an ambassador.
Starting by achieving the highest mark globally in the Institute of Brewers and Distilling's Diploma in Distillation she then moved into the whisky world. From working for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society as its first global ambassador, she took on the task of taking Diageo's relaunched Mortlach range to the world, before joining the Dewar's team and focusing on its unique range of single malts.
With five malt whiskies to look after, Georgie is always busy. She's already helped create a range of incredible events for her whiskies, including the launch of the Craigellachie 51 Year Old – a whisky given away for free to fans to celebrate drinking whisky rather than hoarding it as a commodity – and we are very pleased that she's found time to come and see us at Whisky Show this year.
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.
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.
Ichiro Akuto was born in Saitama on the outskirts of Tokyo in 1965 into a family that has been making sake since 1625.
After studying at Tokyo University of Agriculture, where he majored in Fermentation Science, Ichiro started working for Suntory in 1988.
In 1995 he joined the family sake business, also producing whisky, which his father ran in Hanyu. However, as a result of the economy, the business ran into difficulties and was eventually sold in 2000 with Hanyu distillery being destroyed in 2004.
Akuto-san established Venture Whisky in September 2004, and launched Ichiro’s Malt whisky, bottling the remaining casks of Hanyu, most notably with the pioneering Card Series range of single casks releases.
With the distilling and production experience gained at BenRiach and Karuizawa distilleries, Ichiro built Chichibu distillery in November 2007; the first spirit flowed from the stills in March 2008.
Ichiro and his whiskies have won many accolades, including World Whiskies Awards and Whisky Advocate Awards.
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.
James has worked in the Scotch whisky industry since graduating from the University of St Andrews in 2014.
He has spent two years as a brand ambassador in the Middle East, before working in the blending department at Chivas Brothers. In January 2019, James started as assistant whiskymaker at Compass Box Whisky Co. with responsibilities for recipe development and maturation trials.
As Head Distiller for Balcones Distilling, Jared Himstedt steers the creative process from new product development to final blending.
As a founder of the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission as well as the President of the nascent Texas Whiskey Association, Jared is involved in the growth and success of American whisky categories and regions. Most recently he was honored with the designation of Icons of Whisky American Master Distiller/Master Blender 2019.
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.
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.
There are two things about Martin Markvardsen that give away his devotion to whisky and in particular, his love of Highland Park. The first is the tattoo over his heart; Martin is so passionate about the brand that he had the Highland Park amulet and the motto of Orkney permanently inked on his body. The second giveaway is that Martin won’t drink anything made of grapes!
Based in Copenhagen, Martin has been working in the whisky industry for almost a quarter of a century, with over ten years working with Highland Park.
Over the years, his work has seen him involved in every step of whisky production - from overseeing the peat burning to storing casks in our warehouses. He has visited every single distillery in Scotland and worked in several as well. In addition, during his career Martin held the enviable title of being Whisky Manager at the world famous Craigellachie Hotel’s Quaich Bar, in Speyside, home to more than 780 different single malts.
As Senior Brand Ambassador, Martin’s role involves a lot of travelling, as he leads training, education and tasting sessions for bars, restaurants, whisky fairs and clubs. Everyone from beginners to connoisseurs seek out Martin’s knowledge of whisky and his many years of know-how have seen him contribute to numerous articles and books on the subject of single malts. In 2009, Martin was given a great honour when he was asked to be a “Keeper of the Quaich”; and he is also a “Master of Malt”, which he is very proud of too.
When he’s not spreading the word about Highland Park around the world, he enjoys weightlifting in his spare time. He has represented Denmark in 22 boxing matches for the national team and was Danish boxing champion twice. He is someone not to be messed with!
Martin’s favourite whisky - if forced to choose one - is the 25-year-old Highland Park but has a special soft spot for the 1977 Bicentenary bottling.
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.
Nathan is an award winning bartender turned whisky ambassador who has spent almost half of his life in the hospitality industry.
He has worked in kitchens, events, restaurants and some of the best bars in the world – including the renowned Callooh Callay and Swift, both of which were awarded trophies from the Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail during his tenure behind the stick. Nathan works on the whisk(e)y portfolio for Speciality Brands, training bartenders, creating cocktails and waxing lyrical about the whisky category across the country.
Nick Savage was born in Sheffield, and studied in Sheffield and Melbourne, before moving to Scotland in 2007 to start a career in whisky. He started at Diageo, working on cask and maturation research, before moving to William Grant and Sons as a distillery. In 2016 he became master distillery for The Macallan, the final step before taking over the reigns at Bladnoch.
He is now responsible for leading the various teams that run the revitalised Bladnoch distillery, as well as leading the creation of Bladnoch's single malts and Pure Scot blended whiskes. With building stocks in the warehouses and Nick's love of innovation and experimentation, the future is exciting for both him and Bladnoch.
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.
Richard was initiated into the whisky trade when began his career as a general production assistant at A Gillies & Company Whisky Blenders & Brokers in Glasgow. After a few years, he moved to Whyte & Mackay and swiftly climbed the company ladder to become master blender at the age of 26. He holds the same title to this day.
Richard’s day-to-day work involves looking after Whyte & Mackay’s range of whiskies, from the everyday blends through to the company’s award-winning single malts: Dalmore and Jura. He has been responsible for helping to create some of the world’s most expensive whiskies, including Dalmore Trinitas, and the Mackinlay’s ‘Shackleton’ blend, created in celebration of the explorer’s journeys in the Antarctic.
Richard is well known for his spirited style of teaching whisky, and those who have experienced his tastings have been known to be treated with an extra dram, sometimes in a glass and sometimes thrown at them! He is a master educator and is passionate about sharing his experience with others.
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.
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.
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.
Stewart Buchanan is a hard-working brand ambassador well-known around the world. He spends his days spreading the word about a trio of highland favourites: Benriach, Glendronach and Glenglassaugh.
Stewart grew up on the island of Tobermory, and worked at the eponymous distillery. When Tobermory operations director Billy Walker turned his attention to the mainland and bought Benriach distillery, Stewart wasn't far behind. He came in as part of the team that resurrected the distillery and managed it once it was up and running again.
He now takes his intimate knowledge of how distilleries work around the globe, teaching whisky lovers not only about his distilleries, but about Scotland and the wider world of whisky.
Dr. Stuart Morrison is someone who loves Scotch whisky: its illustrious history, the role it plays in different cultures throughout the world, and of course, its great taste.
He is part of Diageo’s Whisky Specialist Team, paying particular attention to single malts and cask maturation. His days are taken up nosing cask sample after cask sample, allowing him to create and maintain expressions of Johnnie Walker and look after some of Diageo’s single malt portfolio.
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!