Judges

Meet the judging panel

Sponsored and supported by

We’ve carefully handpicked a diverse and exciting range of judges that make up our judging panel. All judges will be confirmed and added to the website by the end of May 2022. To ensure complete impartiality, no one from The Gin Cooperative will be involved with the judging process. Also, no Scottish distillers or gin brand owners will be involved with the judging. A selection of judges from across the industry, community and consumer categories hold some formal qualifications including WSET.

INDUSTRY JUDGES

Industry judges come from various backgrounds, including on-trade, off-trade, hospitality, food and tourism. Industry judges will all have a level of insight and understanding of the production of gin along with an understanding of the spirits supply chain. Some will be more focused on flavour with some more focused on marketing, but all will provide valuable industry feedback.

Bernadette Pamplin

Bernadette Pamplin is a freelance spirits writer, covering gin, rum, tequila, cocktails and most things that imbibe. Bernadette has written for a number of print and digital publications including Gin Magazine along with being a key member of the team behind the Craft Distilling Expo. Bernadette is also a recognised spirits judge, having contributed to gin and spirits competitions around the world.

Cameron Attfield

Cameron Attfield has travelled the world; mixing, shaking and creating libations and cocktails as a head bartender and through his consultancy work. His accolades include New Zealand winner of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2016 and World Class Bartender Of The Year 2019. His experience includes bartender at Dandelyan, GM at Disreupte, the Soho private members club. Cameron helped establish and is the GM at the first stand alone concept bar at Harrods, created in partnership with the legendary fine crystal maker, Baccarat.

Carol Brown

Carol Brown DipWSET is a member of the Association of Wine Educators and the Circle of Wine Writers. Since completing her WSET Diploma in 1996, she has been talking, teaching, tasting and writing about wine in Aberdeen and around Scotland. Originally from the Victorian seaside resort of Southport in the North West of England, she studied Hospitality Management at colleges in Southport and Blackpool. After a spell working for Boddingtons in Manchester, she moved to Guernsey for four years before her move to Aberdeen.

Danny McManus

Danny has been bartending in Glasgow since 2016. It was during these early years that his love for the industry was cemented and he developed the ethos of providing a rounded customer experience. In 2018, he started complementing this with off-trade knowledge, gained through a position with The Good Spirits Company – a staple of Glasgow’s spirits scene. The in 2019, Danny formed part of the opening team at The Gate where he continues to work to this day. During the 2020 lockdown, he returned to his earlier love of photography, combined this with drinks development and has now been lucky enough to work on media projects with some big brands in the drinks industry. 

Darren Ross

Darren is a purveyor of progressive Scottish food, trained and honed in Scotland and inspired by the nordics. Simple, minimalist, produce-driven cooking, ranging from naturally leavened pizzas to tasting menus cooked over an open-fire and everything in between. Currently the head of food and beverage at Inverlonan, which offers off-grid luxury bothies on the west coast. Always on the lookout for new gin producers and flavourings to add further layers of uniqueness and pairings to his cooking.

Elaine Wrigley

Situated within railway arches, Atlas Bar is somewhat of a Manchester icon. Opened by Elaine and her husband Mark in 2014, Atlas has matured into an elegant mecca for gin drinkers with over 570 gins from around the world behind the bar; one of the largest gin bar selections in England. The bar also features a range of other drinks including craft beers, cocktails and a food offering, Gin Masterclasses, Gin Supper Clubs, meet the maker events and more. Investment in the team’s training and offering a curated selection of gins has been key to the bar’s success.

Eleonora Biason

Eleonora Biason is head bartender at Holborn Dining Room’s Gin Bar, London. The bar offers one of London’s largest selections of gins featuring over 500 from around the world and 30 tonics, along with a range of classic and contemporary cocktails. Since 2014, Eleonora has worked in the world of gin and hospitality, honing her craft across both mixology and hospitality management, developing cocktails and menus, supporting spirits producers and helping discerning customers find their new favourite gin and tonic.

Julia Bryce

Julia Bryce is the head of Food and Drink at DC Thomson, covering food and drink stories from across Scotland. Julia was recently named Food and Drink Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards 2021. Julia’s writing started with her blog ‘Just Julia’, which covered a range of food, drink and lifestyle topics and also picked up an award for best food and drink blog. Julia is passionate about supporting local food and drink producers, helping promote Scotland’s diverse food and drink offering.

Matthew Pauley

Matthew Pauley is the brains and nose behind Distillers Nose. Combining science with theory and real world experience to help distillers improve their production methodology to create better products. After graduating with an honours degree from the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD), Heriot Watt, University of Edinburgh, Matthew worked at a number of distilleries including Thames Distillers and Bombay Sapphire before returning to the ICBD as a full-time lecturer, now Assistant Professor.

Max Hayward

Max Hayward is the award-winning head bartender at Lab 22 Cardiff, which placed number one on the Top 50 Cocktail Bars list for 2022. Max has worked in the world of cocktails and hospitality for a number of years, having spent the last 4 years of his career at Lab 22. Creating. Learning. Developing cocktails menus with thought and care. Combining theory and flavour. Pushing things forward. And having a lot of fun whilst showcasing Lab 22 as one of the UK’s more innovative and creatively diverse cocktail bars.

Nicola Moir

Nicola Moir is the managing director of creative agency, Atomic10 and director of specialist drinks festival, Glasgow Cocktail Week, which she set up in 2018. An award-winning communications consultant, Nicola is passionate about helping Scottish lifestyle brands grow and effectively share their stories. With 15 years of agency experience in delivering marketing and PR projects in food and drink, her work has won numerous awards and she continues to deliver high impact results for clients with her agency Atomic10 across the UK. She’s a member of the Marketing Society Scotland and a champion for the Scottish food and drink sector.

Paul Jackson

Paul Jackson is founder of The Gin Guide and The Gin Guide Awards. Launched in 2014 by Paul, The Gin Guide website provides an online guide to the world of gin featuring a variety of resources covering news and features, reviews and more. Paul has a genuine passion for gin, spirits and cocktails and is an active member of the gin community as well as a prominent speaker and consultant actively working with a number of producers and brands through The Gin Guide membership and awards programme.

Rosalind Erskine

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 started with The Scotsman newspaper covering the growing Scottish food, drink and hospitality sector.

Sam Heughan

Sam Heughan is a Scottish actor, producer, author and owner of Sassenach Spirits, home of the award-winning The Sassenach Blended Scotch Whisky and Sassenach Select Tequila. Sam hails from Balmaclellan in Dumfries and Galloway, south-west Scotland and is a passionate advocate for the arts and Scottish culture. Sam has appeared in a number of TV shows and films and is also co-author of the top-selling Clanlands book alongside Outlander and Men In Kilts co-star Graham McTavish.

Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy is a Scottish based author and journalist specialising in food, drink, hospitality and tourism. Sean has worked for a number of Scotland’s leading newspapers covering new gin releases, whisky, distilling and more. Sean is also the author of two books about Scottish Gin, the most recent being the Scottish Gin Bible, which provides insight into 100 Scottish Gin producers along with cocktails, the distillation process, botanicals and more.

Tony Pert

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 his family 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 Botanist for six years, he has since moved into an operational role within the family company, which operates four bars in total.

Consumer Judges

Consumer judges cover a wide range of gin drinkers, from collectors to gin drinkers who have recently discovered gin. Consumer judges have been carefully selected based on data we have collected through our content and website.

Alastair Noble

Originally hailing from New Zealand but relocating to Edinburgh in 2016 thanks to his Scottish wife, Alastair Noble (the Kilted Kiwi), originally discovered gin in 2008 thanks to best friend and hair of the dog in the form of gin martinis, after too many bourbons the night before. Alastair moved to West Australia, where he co-founded a small home brew distillery collective, and found himself gravitating more towards gin. Once he moved to Edinburgh with his wife, Alastair was delighted to discover a thriving Scottish Gin scene, which Alastair has continued to explore, building a collection of Scottish and global gins.

Anne Keenan

Anne is a classically trained private Chef and Baker, currently running The Culinary Kiwi Bird.  She runs a sourdough and real bread micro bakery in Aberdeenshire using only organic Scottish flours for her breads.  Originally from New Zealand, it was during her extensive travels throughout Asia and Europe in her early 20s that she developed a fascination for unusual and innovative flavour combinations both in food and drink. Her favourite tipple is gin and she’s constantly on the lookout for new flavour profiles to both drink and incorporate into her cooking. Anne holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Spirits.

Carol Chessis

Although Carol discovered gin quite a few years ago, it’s the recent growth of the category that saw her passion for the juniper spirit really develop. With new brands and producers, new stories and gin expressions to explore, Carol not only started growing her collection of gins but made it her goal to try different gins, tonics and garnishes. She has particularly enjoyed discovering some unsung gems from small producers. Carol also discovered the joy of making cocktails at home. With days spent looking after her grandchildren, the evenings and weekends provide her with the perfect excuse to relax with a G&T or cocktail on her time off. Throughout lockdown Carol proudly continued to buy and support small craft distillers.

Helen Donnet

Helen joined a gin subscription service in 2018 to try new gins, which in turn helped her learn more about botanicals, the gin production process and the different gin styles. From there, Helen gravitated towards more Scottish Gins as her interest in gin continued to grow. Buying more Scottish Gins, attending gin events, chatting with distillers and brands online has all helped Helen learn more about the Scottish Gin category as a consumer, sharing her journey through her Instagram account.

Jill Cooper

With a busy schedule due to her job as a Depute Head Teacher at a nearby primary school, Jill enjoys spending time at the weekend with her family; socialising, relaxing and entertaining. Having come across gin when working as a student in the hotel industry, Jill has gone on to build a curated collection of gins and enjoys learning more about the people and brands.

Keith Spence

Keith Spence discovered gin in 2016 after sampling a number of small batch gins and from there he went on a personal gin journey which saw him create a dedicated room in his house to host his ever growing collection of gins from around the world, which includes over 120 Scottish Gins. For Keith, gin is more than just the contents of the bottle; he enjoys learning about the people and stories behind the gins he’s drinking and regularly attends gins festivals, events and meet the maker sessions.

Kirsty Couch

Kirsty’s love of gin took off after a trip to Bombay Sapphire in 2016 when she became fascinated by the process of making spirits. A keen traveller and F1 fan, no trip is complete without a visit to a distillery or brewery where she enjoys hearing the back story and the unique quirks of the brand. Living in Bristol with her husband and two grown up boys, there is great selection of gin offerings to enjoy locally Kirsty has enjoyed sharing her love of gin through her social media channels as TheOrGINiser on line. Kirsty holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Spirits.

Margaret Paige

Margaret Paige, known as Mags to her friends, first got into gin after discovering a mysterious blue bottle on the shelf of her local bottle shop. Of course that blue bottle was Bombay Sapphire, a gin that’s opened the doors to the world of gin for many. Shortly after, Mag and husband Phil ventured into London booking themselves on a gin blending course at Portobello Road Gin Distillery and, as they say, the rest is history. With an ever growing collection of gins, vodkas, vermouths and more, Mags has continued to explore and seek new, contemporary and classic gins and is a regular attendee at a number of gin events and festivals.

Mary Hawes

Gin has been Mary Hawes’ tipple of choice for more years than she can remember. An avid gin drinker and collector; like many consumers, Mary first discovered gin thanks to Gordon’s, before the likes of Bombay Sapphire came along. Her appreciation of gin grew thanks to attending Junipalooza and evenings at the old Gin Foundry studio and distillery, refining her palate and knowledge of gin.

Murdette Price-Davies

Murdette first dabbled with gin in her very early twenties, thinking herself “a proper grown up”. By her own admittance, it was fairly mainstream stuff but pleasant enough. Murdette has enjoyed the growth of the gin category and finds it much more exciting than it used to be. Murdette admits trying a new gin is always a delight, from appreciating a beautiful bottle to enjoying the flavours of the gin itself. “I love that there is so much variety – a good gin can really say something special about the place and the people it comes from”.

Philip Paige

Phil lives in Hertfordshire and works full-time in Central London. He would class himself as a Gin Advocate as he wants to spread the love of all things gin, without making his passion a commercial business. His ‘fledgling’ blog The Ginasium is designed around discussion and education on all matters gin, where Twitter and Instagram are too limiting. He admits to liking most spirits, but Gin is his main love. His increase in fondness for gin became a passion at the same time as an increase in watching live rugby, some 8 years ago. Drinking lots of beer every weekend took its toll on his waist, and so he decided to swap to gin, and an obsession was born. Phil holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Spirits and has just sat his WSET Level 3 in Spirits exam.

Sarah Bracken

Sarah’s first encounter with gin was a gin and tonic before a meal with family and friends. In her house, gin was reserved for special occasions. As more gin brands have come to market, Sarah has found herself focused on smaller gin producers and brands, with fascinating stories and great gin. As a The Gin Cooperative Scottish Gin subscriber Sarah says, “The variety has been extraordinary and every month brings a new discovery!”.

Gin Community Judges

Community judges come from the online communities for gin, food, travel and hospitality, including reviewers, bloggers, content creators and amateur mixologists. Community judges are all passionate individuals who are active online and use their blogs, websites and social media channels to showcase and talk about gin and their areas of expertise.

Adele Conn

Adele Conn, better known online as Tartan Spoon is a food, drinks and travel writer, reviewer and content creator based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Adele is a member of the Guild of Food Writers and is passionate about food, whisky, gin, spirits and wine. Adele loves Scottish produce and creates content that supports and champions Scotland’s food and drinks producers. Adele holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 1 Award in Wines and a diploma in gin from the Edinburgh Whisky Academy.

Anthony Brimacombe

Anthony Anthony Brimacombe AKA Brim & Tonic, has been enjoying gin since work colleagues introduced him to the spirt in 2016 on a work night out. It was also around this time that Anthony decided to visit Duke’s Bar, where he sampled one of the famous Martinis made by Alessandro Palazzi. The experience opened a door for Anthony into the world of cocktails and spirits. Since this early discovery of gin, Anthony has developed his knowledge and understanding of spirits, cocktails, mixology and loves to share this passion through his social media channels. Anthony, along with Julian Vallis and Sandra Lim, is a founding member of Martini Club UK.

Claire Jessiman

Claire Jessiman is Scottish food, travel and lifestyle online content creator originally from The Black Isle, now living in Aberdeenshire.  She has been blogging her Edible Scottish Adventures as her alter ego Foodie Quine since 2012. A mum of two and wife of one, she is passionate about cooking from scratch, seasonality, food education and family-friendly recipes. She’s always keen to seek out food specialties, markets and experiences whilst travelling in the UK and abroad and is eager to champion local hospitality, farmers, suppliers and producers. 

Dan Cox

Ginteresting Times was set-up by Dan Cox as a fun way to share his thoughts about the world of gin after enjoying a Ginvent calendar and seeing how gin could bring people together. He also had his eyes opened after attending an event hosted by Rory Faiers AKA The Gin Lord, where Dan saw the variety of gin expressions available. Dan has continued to grow his understanding of the industry and gin by visiting distilleries and attending gin events, chatting with producers and brand owners.

Dan Doherty

Dan is a massive foodie. Having spent 8 years living all around the world, he developed a real love for all flavours and never settled for average. This applies to wine, coffee, cheese, chocolate and of course gin; all of which can be incredibly varied and complex. Dan’s blog started on his return to the UK, where he found himself to be a tourist in his new home of Manchester. Seeking out good places to eat soon turned into a real passion for spreading the word of everything to do with food and travel. Dan holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Spirits and a WSET Level 3 in Wine.

Euan Harris

Euan is a gin enthusiast and the writer behind ‘From The Gin Shelf’. An Official Supporter of International Scottish Gin Day, Euan is a digital marketer by trade and also has a keen interest in photography. ‘From The Gin Shelf’ was created by Euan in 2017 as a resource dedicated to helping consumers learn more about gin through unbiased reviews and editorials. Euan’s own experiences while researching also widens his own knowledge and serves to enhance his passion for all things gin.

Inka Larissa

Inka Larissa is a spirits writer and whisky podcaster who has been making spirits more accessible through her blog On The Sauce Again and more recently the podcast The Whisky Sisters. On The Sauce Again covers a wide range of drink related topics; anything from gin to mezcal to sherry, tips on how to throw a party or where to drink and what to drink locally. She believes we should embrace spirits the way people enjoy wine; by learning the best ways to drink them and fully appreciate the aromas, colours and flavours of each unique category.

Jenny McLaren

Jenny is a gin blogger based in the South East of England, who started blogging at the end of 2014 and has since reviewed over 200 gins, tonics and mixers. Jenny is passionate about helping people to discover gin and aims to write her tasting notes in a way that is understandable, accessible and relatable to everyone. Jenny holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 1 Award in Spirits. Jenny is also Events Manager at the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust).

Julian Vallis

Julian Vallis runs Martini Club, World Martini Day and buys and retails spirits and cocktails via Barspoon. Since 2010, he has developed a passion for all spirits and cocktails and is a well known authoritative figure on all things Martini related. He also consults and partners with brands and occasionally publishes articles along with providing his palate as a judge for a variety of competitions. For World Martini Day on the third Saturday in June annually, he also partners with a different distiller to release a special edition spirit providing iterative innovation in classic spirits and the Martini. He’s also an avid supporter of International Scottish Gin Day and occasionally posts his unique experiments and creations under his own name on Instagram and Twitter. Julian holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Spirits with distinction and is awaiting the results of his WSET Level 3 in Spirits exam.

Katie Hughes

Katie has a passion for gin, travel and food and writes about all three, especially where they intersect. Her blog covers gin guides to places she has visited on her travels, gin tastings, distillery visits and other gin based experiences. She’s always on the lookout for gins, spirits and food made locally to where she travels.

Matt Burton

Matt Burton started his blog ‘The Gin Shelf’ in 2016 to help share his love of the gin world and writing. Matt uses his personal life experiences in his gin reviews and writing, often with hilarious effect; adventures, anecdotes, family and life all finding their way into his gin writing. Matt enjoys attending gin events, visiting distilleries, meeting producers, discovering new cocktail bars and seeking out new gins and spirits.

Natasha Gordon

Natasha’s love of food started when her Mum took her to a Michelin star restaurant at the ripe old age of 13! As a proverbial grown-up, Natasha has continued to share her love of food through her blog ‘Seasoned Eater’ and social media channels, seeking out new dining experiences, developing her palate and showcasing food and drink from local and global chefs and producers. Natasha holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Spirits.

Nicola Glassford

Nicola Glassford set-up her blog Nic’s Gin & Beer after discovering gin at a food and drink festival with her family. She made it a priority to visit her local gin bar where she learnt more about food and gin pairings along with trying a variety of gin styles. Nic has grown her gin collection to cover brands from all around the world but, hailing from Glasgow, ultimately Nic has a soft spot for Scottish Gins. Nicola prides herself on integrity, honesty, fairness and transparency when it comes to her reviews and blog.

Pam Lorimer

Pam was a little unsure how to describe herself… blogger, baker, mother, signaller (that’s the day job), or gin lover. She says it depends on who she’s talking to! Pam is a Scottish mum of two, living in the South West of Scotland. She works full time in the rail industry and in her free time she loves writing reviews about drinks and gin in particular. She has a long standing relationship with gin but only over the last three or four years has she taken the opportunity to explore the industry and build up her knowledge. Pam enjoys attending gin and drinks events, meeting the makers and discussing their products and educating others through her blog and social media channels. Pam holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 1 Award in Spirits.

Richard Spence

Richard Spence AKA Spence hails from North London and like a lot of people, discovered gin thanks to Bombay Sapphire. A keen photographer, gin drinker and foodie, Spence enjoys the social aspect of gin where it can bring people together to share ideas, chat and learn. Spence uses his blog and social media channels to shine a light on the gin brands and people he’s met, making connections with producers and brands and getting to know the spirits in the bottle.

Rory Faiers

Rory Faiers has been championing the gin category for a number of years online as The Gin Lord. Organising and running gin tasting events across East Anglia, Rory also reviews and writes about gin and distilling and is an active member of the wider gin community. Rory also enjoys learning more about the distillation process, with his rectifiers licence, he can be found tinkering away distilling foraged botanicals, especially herbs, fruits and juniper. Rory is also responsible for Thirst of All, a podcast that sees Rory chatting with a range of producers and people from the world of gin and spirits about their love of drinks and spirits.

Sandra Lim

Originally from Malaysia, and having lived in New Zealand and Singapore, Sandra AKA Juniper Chick, has called London home for the last two decades. Through her travels, she’s discovered some amazing spirits and bars, continually looking to discover and experience new spirits and meet mixologists. One third of the team behind Martini Club UK and World Martini Day, Sandra is well versed in cocktail history and techniques, as well as being a big foodie. Sandra along with partner Julian Vallis support and work with a number of spirits brands and producers, helping them develop signature cocktails for their spirits. Sandra holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Spirits.

Sara Jane Eichler

Sara Jane Eichler AKA Love Gin & Rex (and known as SJ to her friends), is a spirits and drinks judge, writer and active drinks commentator with over 30 years experience in hospitality and on-trade. Sara Jane was the driving force behind the The Oliver Conquest, one of the original gin bars in London that promoted and showcased the virtues of the juniper spirit long before the current gin renaissance. Sara Jane is passionate about sharing her love of spirits and cocktails with others and founded Negroni Club UK. SJ holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Spirits and a WSET Level 2 in Wine.