Our Weekender sessions feature speakers from all over the globe representing all aspects of the modern whisky world from distillers to marketers to auctioneers and anywhere in between.
Below are the whisky figures joining us this year with brief introductions to each.
Dewar’s Global Malts Ambassador
Georgie Bell is the Global Head of Advocacy for the incubation brands at Bacardi and has spent a decade deeply rooted within the Scotch Whisky industry. With a BSc in Distillation and as a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, Georgie has made it her life mission to get under the skin of whisky – standing up to misconceptions and challenging its so-called ‘image’ along with all the accompanying stereotypes.
UK Brand Ambassador, Suntory
Prior to becoming a Brand Ambassador for Suntory in the UK, James built over ten years of experience in the hospitality industry at multiple award-winning venues, including Bar High Five in Tokyo and The Edgbaston Hotel in Birmingham, England. It was at the latter that he curated one of Europe’s finest Japanese whisky collections.
CEO, Iron Smoke Distillery
Tommy founded Iron Smoke Distillery with his partners in 2011. He is the company ringleader and innovative branding scoundrel for the Iron Smoke and Rattlesnake Rosie’s brands.
CTO, Teeling Whiskey Company
Alex is the Master Distiller behind Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey Company. As the first employee of Teeling, he has been involved in developing the whiskey and the distillery from the very beginning. Previously he was the Innovation Manager at the Cooley Distillery and began his career at Bridge Port Brewery in Portland Oregon. Alex graduated from the prestigious Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland where he completed his MSc. in Brewing and Distillery. Alex is at the forefront of innovative Irish Whiskey distilling, maturing and blending.
Tor Petter W. Christensen
CEO, Aurora Spirit Distillery
Tor Christensen is the CEO and one of the founders of the Aurora Spirit Distillery in Norway. Tor left his successful job as CEO of an eco-business to invest all of his and his wife’s money, time, career and assets on building the world’s northernmost distillery.
A local to Craigellachie in Speyside with over 12 years’ experience in the whisky industry, Matthew brings with him an abundance of industry knowledge. An expert in immersive whisky education, he is the embodiment of Scottish hospitality and a passionate storyteller, educating whisky enthusiasts around the globe on John Dewar & Sons Single Malts; Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, The Deveron and Royal Brackla.
Head Distiller, Cardrona Distillery
Sarah Elsom was born and bred in Dunedin, New Zealand. She pursued a degree in Viticulture and Oenology at Lincoln University, New Zealand and used that degree as a ticket to travel the world of wine; a Pinot noir harvest chaser. On her return home from Canada in 2014, Sarah saw an opportunity in the Cardrona Distillery being built just 20 minutes from a place she had long settled on as home: Wanaka. Hired first as a distillery hand, Sarah was put to work digging the irrigation for the estate grown perfumery roses whilst the distillery build was completed. Five years later, Sarah is now the Master Distiller of the distillery, managing a team of three distillers (also women).
Ambassador, Ardbeg, USA
Cameron brings to life tales of place, provenance and passion via liquid stories that explore not only the depths & complexities of your whisk(e)y glass but the relationship of humanity and nature itself.
Whisky maker, Lakes Distillery
Dhavall Gandhi started his career in Corporate Finance before venturing into the world of whisky. Considered by many as a polymath whisky maker, Gandhi applies a vast array of novel approaches to the whisky-making process. His creative influences span from a spectrum of domains — art, mathematics, perfumery, and winemaking to name a few.
Senior Global Scotch Whisky Ambassador, Diageo
Ewan Gunn has over 20 years of experience in the whisky industry and has visited 82 countries across six continents in his career. Ewan holds the position of Senior Global Scotch Whisky Ambassador, responsible for Diageo’s most prestigious Single Malts and Blended Scotch Whiskies. He has been Haig Club Global Whisky Master since the brand launched and has been integral to the introduction of Haig Club to the world – from the global launch in Scotland with David Beckham to subsequent market launches around the world.
Brand Ambassador, Nc’nean
Matt is the Brand Ambassador for Nc’nean, an small independent distillery on the west coast of Scotland. His role encompasses the usual brand ambassador duties, along with blending, sales, photography, and a whole host of other tasks that you’d expect with a brand new distillery. His previous role was Head of Creative at Fluid Movement, where he help launch and maintain the specialist whisky bar Black Rock, the sampling platform Whisky-Me, and a wide range of global hospitality projects.
Head Distiller, Roe & Co
Lora Hemy is the Head Distiller at one of Dublin’s youngest whiskey distilleries, Roe & Coe. Having studied Fine Art at college and worked as a DJ and sound engineer during her 20s, Lora has now worked in whisky for over seven years, and sees many parallels between art and distilling.
Founder, Angel’s Envy
Angel’s Envy® exists today because of Wes Henderson’s vision and determination. He recognised that several of his father Lincoln Henderson’s never-fully-realised projects might form the foundation for a lasting family business. By convincing his father to come out of retirement, and then working with him to create groundbreaking whiskeys using secondary barrel finishing techniques, they have been at the forefront of innovation in the industry. Working together, they ensured that Angel’s Envy’s whiskeys would be of the highest quality. Since Lincoln’s passing in 2013, Wes has continued the Henderson legacy of craftsmanship and innovation.
Director of Distilling Operations, BrewDog Distilling Co.
As Head of Distilling Operations, Steven Kersley is leading the charge of BrewDog’s venture into the world of spirits. With over a decade’s experience in the drinks industry, Steven and his team have already put BrewDog’s LoneWolf gin and vodka on the map and are working hard as they expand into the realms of whisky and rum.
Head of Private Client Management, The Macallan
Now back in the UK after living and working in Asia for more than 20 years, Geoff Kirk has a broad role at Macallan overseeing consumer engagement, brand education, the distillery’s new archive and authentication.
Single Malt Whisky Specialist, Fettercairn Distillery (Whyte and Mackay)
Andrew works in the Brand Experience team as a Single Malt Whisky Specialist. His focus begins with Fettercairn Distillery, helping launch new releases across the specialist channels as well as winning hearts and minds in the UK on-trade. Ambassadorial activity is a key part of his role, supporting on brand home experiences, leading training sessions and hosting tastings across a single malt portfolio.
Communication and Media Relations Manager, Whyte and Mackay
Taking a less than traditional route into the whisky industry, Laura’s career began in commercial photography, where she won several awards and accolades for her work. Since stepping away from the lens, Laura has specialised in digital and communication disciplines. Laura has spent the past five years working within the whisky industry, but her love for the amber gold extends far beyond, fuelled by her very first taste of whisky – a Single Malt from Jura, gifted to her by her dad over a decade ago.
Distillery Manager, Aberfeldy
John MacKenzie grew his taste and adoration for all things whisky as a 21-year-old shop assistant in a whisky shop in Inverness. His career path took him to bonnie Royal Brackla in 2006 where he was a Distillery operator for seven years and then a Distillery Supervisor for a further six. He was proud to have a short turn as Distillery Manager at Royal Brackla before a career-defining permanent move. In May 2020, he became the distillery manager at Aberfeldy, the picturesque home of Dewar’s.
Master Blender & Malt Master, Dewar’s
Stephanie Macleod has been Dewar’s Master Blender and Malt Master since 2006 and is Dewar’s 7th Master Blender since 1846, as well as the first woman. She has continued the Dewar’s blending legacy by maintaining the award-winning taste of Dewar’s and the other brands in the Scotch Whisky portfolio. As the award-winning Master Blender (IWC Master Blender of the Year 2019 and 2020), Stephanie has created a range of new expressions of the Dewar’s portfolio of Single Malts – Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Glen Deveron and Royal Brackla and Blended Scotch whiskies, and numerous expressions of Dewar’s, including the Double Double range and the world’s first for Dewar’s and Scotch Whisky – Dewar’s 8 Ilegal Smooth.
Head of Content, Wemyss Family Spirits
Mike leads visual content production and strategy for Wemyss Family Spirits’ three brands: Wemyss Malts, Kingsbarns Distillery and Darnley’s Gin.
Founder, The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Company
Louise McGuane worked with and learned from some of the best multinational drinks companies, including Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Moet Hennessy. On her return to her native Ireland, she decided to use her established skill set and founded The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Company. After all, Irish Whiskey is ultimately an agricultural product, so why not ensure a future for the farm for the next generation by ageing, blending and finishing County Clare’s first whiskey in living memory!
Distillery Manager & Head of Production, East London Liquor Company
Hailing from the Emerald Isle (Ireland), analytical chemist Andy moved to East London Liquor Company in 2014 to create and head up the company’s whisky portfolio. In 2018, he succeeded by releasing the company’s first signature London Rye®, the city’s first whisky in over 114 years. Having launched seven iterations since, Andy is responsible for end-to-end whisky development as well as the production of all other spirits and products.
Founder and Managing Director, John Fergus & Co Ltd, InchDairnie Distillery
After more than 30 years in various operational roles in the Scotch Whisky industry, Ian Palmer formed John Fergus & Co Ltd in 2011 and is today its Managing Director. In 2014, the company began the construction of the InchDairnie Distillery in Glenrothes, Fife which commenced production in 2015. This innovative distillery produces whiskies for both blending and single malt. The distillery uses many new techniques to produce whiskies of distinctive flavours.
Ian’s career started with the Invergordon Distillers in 1978. Following the company’s acquisition by Whyte and Mackay, Ian moved to Edinburgh to manage the company’s whisky bottling operations before taking on the role of Operations Director. After more than 25 years with the company, he moved on to build the Glen Turner company in Bathgate, building the Starlaw grain distillery in 2009.
Becky Paskin is a multi-award-winning UK-based spirits journalist, whisky specialist and consultant who has been writing about drinks for over 13 years. She is an advocate for breaking down cultural misconceptions about whisky, and in 2018 co-founded the OurWhisky movement to promote whisky as a diverse and widely accessible drink.
In 2016, Becky became the first journalist to gain a General Certificate in Distillation (GCD) with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling – a qualification usually reserved for distillery operators. She is also the organiser of the annual OurWhisky Festival, and regularly presents educational seminars at global drinks festivals including Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and The Whisky Show in London.
The Balvenie Global Ambassador
Over the past seven years, Gemma has represented Balvenie from Speyside to Stateside to Shanghai, telling stories and sharing drams. Originally hailing from The Hebrides but now calling Speyside home, she is a keen whisky enthusiast and a passionate storyteller.
UK Brand Ambassador, Starward
Callum has always tried to change the way people think about drinks and make them accessible to anyone who’s game. After over a decade in the industry, Callum believes the whisky category is the most diverse and exciting it’s ever been.
Global Archive Manager, Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery
With more than 20 years in the drinks industry, Jacqui has been instrumental in researching and developing many of the unique heritage stories for the Scotch Whisky brands of Dewar’s and the single malts of Aultmore, Aberfeldy, Craigellachie, Macduff and Royal Brackla. She created the original brand heritage museum exhibition at Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery visitor centre and loves to share her archival discoveries with anyone who will listen!
Visitor Manager, Nc’nean Distillery
Amy Stammers is the Visitor Manager for Nc’nean distillery on the west coast of Scotland. Passionate about all things environmental, Amy joined Nc’nean in 2017 after making the move from her native Norfolk.
Owner, Arbikie Distillery
Iain & his brothers set up Arbikie Distillery in 2014 to distil their family of field-to-bottle spirits from the crops on their farms. Arbikie distils the world’s only Rye Scotch Whisky, Highland Rye & the world’s first climate-positive gin, Nàdar. Customers include Aman Resorts, Connaught, Whole Foods & Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
Scotland Territory Manager, Cardrona Distillery
Joseph is the Scotland Territory Manager for the Cardrona Distillery New Zealand, helping to spread the joy of Kiwi craft distilling from their unique home in the Cardrona Alps to the rest of the world.
Global Scotch Ambassador, Diageo
An award-winning bartender-turned-Diageo Global Ambassador for New Age Scotch, Erv has spent more than 15 years behind the bar, both in his native Scotland and across more than 30 countries, sharing first hand how Scotch can be mixed, muddled and stirred up to create innovative, world-class drinks.
Master Blender, Johnnie Walker
Whisky Blender Emma Walker joined the whisky business from a background in chemistry, with a Masters in Chemistry and a PhD in Organic Chemistry under her belt. While working as a chemist, Emma applied for a project scientist role at The Diageo Technical Centre in Menstrie – and she’s been working on whisky ever since. Now, Emma is one of 12 master blenders on the Johnnie Walker team, working on one of the world’s most iconic whiskies – though she has no relation to Johnnie as far as she knows!
Head of Auction Content, Whisky Auctioneer
Joe Wilson is a whisky specialist and Head of Auction Content at Whisky Auctioneer. Holding Masters in both History and Museum Studies, his experience working on projects at international museums brings a unique skillset into the world of auctions. He joined Whisky Auctioneer in 2017 managing the authentication and exhibition of the whisky in its auctions.