Judges

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ADI is very proud that our judging is able to use some of the very best palates in the spirits industry. In 2019, over 50 judges will evaluate US and International entries from all classes and categories of spirits, cocktail bitters, RTD Cocktails, as well as aperitif and fortified wines.

Lead Judge

nancy-fraleyNancy Fraley is a whiskey and rum blender and consultant. She runs a firm called Nosing Services in Berkeley, CA, where she provides custom blending, product formulation services, creation of maturation programs, and sensory analysis for distilleries worldwide. She is also the Director of Research & instructor of blending with ADI. Nancy is creator of the American Craft Whiskey Aroma Wheel, a sensory tool for distillers and whiskey connoisseurs.

 

Spirit Judges

Billy Abbott is a drinks writer and judge specializing in whisky and fine spirits. Once a computer programmer with more than a decade of experience working in the financial industry, in 2011 he made the jump to the drinks world, writing words instead of code. By day he is a writer, trainer and ambassador for The Whisky Exchange. By night he is a freelance writer, drinks consultant and reviews editor for Whisky Quarterly magazine. He also organizes Whisky Squad – a London-based whisky-tasting group – and, when he finds time, writer of his own blog, Spirited Matters.

Steven Beal is one of the most respected whiskey experts in the world. He has worked as a brand ambassador for some of the largest whiskey brands in the world, hosting classes and tasting for consumers and industry professionals. He has been a spirits judge for over 15 years and has worked as a judge in both the US and the UK.

Distiller Dan Farber has been involved in brandy production since the mid-1980s, studying in Cognac and other brandy-producing regions around the world and finally settling near Santa Cruz, CA, to found the Osocalis Distillery. A lover of all spirits, Farber founded Osocalis to produce classically styled brandies. After three decades, he professes to still be a student and continues to study distillation and fermentation around the world. An aficionado of fruit- and grain-based ferments, his real passion is well-aged spirits of all categories. Farber is most definitely a member of and advocate for the Slow Distillation Movement.

Peter Holland is one half of the husband and wife team behind the TheFloatingRumShack.com; their onetime hobby, the world of rum has become their full-time occupation organizing events, training, rum clubs, visits to rum festivals and producers around the Caribbean and beyond. Peter is a knowledgeable and experienced presenter, educator, consultant, and marketer, helping to promote all things rum, what he considers “the best spirit in the world.”

Monique Huston entered the beverage/hospitality industry waiting tables at the age of 14. She spent 10 years curating the whiskey collection at the Dundee Dell, in her hometown of Omaha, NE, and countless hours at whiskey distilleries. Huston shifted to distribution, working for Stoller Wholesale in Chicago before becoming Director of Spirits for the Winebow Group.

Gin expert, Aaron Knoll is the author of the spirits blog “the Gin is in” and co-author of The Craft of Gin (White Mule Press, 2013). Knoll’s latest book is Gin: The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival (London: Jacqui Small, 2015).

Virginia Miller has traveled the world in pursuit of her love of good food and drink. She was the former Vice President of Content/ Senior Managing Editor at Table8 and former editor for Zagat. Miller releases a biweekly newsletter, “The Perfect Spot,” on food and drink around the world. Miller freelances for Food Republic, Liquor.com, Whisky Magazine UK, Drink Me Magazine, 7×7 Magazine, The London Times, Eater, Blackboard Eats and beyond. Virginia has judged countless cocktail contests and sat on spirits panels (including Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards and craft spirits for the Good Food Awards).

Julia Nourney is an independent spirits consultant based in Germany who has been working in the industry for almost 20 years. For the last decade Nourney has been a spirit judge for both IWSC and ADI. Nourney has a fantastic palate and she regularly co-teaches a Nosing for Faults seminar with Nancy Fraley.

After his father’s wine-importing business changed hands, Henry Preiss founded Preiss Imports, bringing some of the best small liqueurs and wines from Europe into the United States, introducing such iconic brands to the U.S. market as Luxardo and Darroze Armagnacs. Henry retired in 2008, only to find that retirement didn’t agree with him. So he founded HPS Epicurean in 2012. With more than 42 years in the business, Henry has one of the most-educated palates in the business.

Keli Rivers started bartending in Tokyo’s Roppongi nightclub district and has lived on every continent except Antarctica. A veteran of some of San Francisco’s best cocktail bars, including Hard Water and Devil’s Acre, Rivers was the “Ginnoisseur” of the gin-centric bar Whitechapel. Today, she is the US brand ambassador for Sipsmith Gin.

Historian and former museum curator Matthew Rowley is author of Moonshine! (2007). He is on the editorial board of the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, contributes to books and magazines and writes at WhiskeyForge.com. His latest book, Lost Recipes of Prohibition, was released in October 2015 and was a finalist for the 2016 James Beard Awards. Find him on Twitter as @mbrowley.

Kristiane Sherry is the editor at Master of Malt, an award-winning drinks eCommerce site. She adores whisky, gin, Tequila, cocktails (pretty much anything delicious and spirited!), and loves geeking out at distilleries around the world. She has chaired numerous tasting panels as part of The Spirits Masters series, is an accredited WSET Spirits Educator, and has written about spirits for a trade and consumer audience since 2011. Kristiane is a former editor of The Spirits Business, a leading global trade title, and has been featured as an industry commentator in The Spectator and on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Natasha Bahrami is the owner of The Gin Room, a gin-centric bar in Saint Louis, MO. She is dedicated to teaching and creating robust education platforms through The Gin World, a company created to help elevate the category of gin in cities domestically and abroad.

One of Imbibe magazine’s “25 Most Influential Cocktail Personalities of the Past Century,” Jeff “Beachbum” Berry is the author of seven award-winning books on Tiki drinks and the owner of Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29, a New Orleans bar-restaurant which Esquire and Playboy named one of the USA’s best bars. Food & Wine calls Jeff “one of the world’s leading rum experts,” while the New York Times cites him as “the Indiana Jones of Tiki drinks.” Jeff’s been profiled in the Washington Post, USA Today and Wine Enthusiast magazine; he’s also been featured on PBS Television and National Public Radio.

Nate Brown is the founder of The London Bar Consultants Ltd and the Merchant House Bar Group in London. His award-winning bars are spirit-led cocktail venues, showcasing the finest the spirit world has to offer. Through his consultancy he has traveled the world educating team members and clients on spirits. He is a judge for various spirit competitions and a contributing writer for Imbibe magazine in the UK.

Trading in silicon chips for copper stills, Todd Buckley is a technologist turned distiller. He has worked at Intel and Microsoft and has been instrumental in producing award-winning gin and vodka. He is founder of Destiny Spirits and Lecturer in Social Media. Follow him on twitter @WADSP.

Paul Clarke is Imbibe Magazine’s Executive Editor and the author of The Cocktail Chronicles: Navigating the Cocktail Renaissance with Jigger, Shaker & Glass. He believes in the importance of a diverse liquid diet. While his heart belongs to spirits and cocktails—his inclinations often lean to bourbon and Boulevardiers—his days (and nights) are peppered with pour-overs and cold-brew, cab franc and cremant, and pilsners and gose— because balance is so important.

Wayne Curtis is a freelance journalist and contributing editor at The Atlantic. He has written hundreds of articles for dozens of magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bon Appétit, Men’s Journal, American Archaeology, American Scholar, Canadian Geographic, Islands, AARP The Magazine, Travel + Leisure, Down East, Preservation and Yankee. Curtis wrote the book And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the World in Ten Cocktails. He has presented at the Tales of the Cocktail, American Distilling Institute, Manhattan Cocktail Classic, Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, the American Museum of Natural History in New York and other venues.

A native of Burgundy, Flavien Desoblin owns two bars in Manhattan: Brandy Library in Tribeca and Copper & Oak on the Lower East Side, which have one of the most comprehensive collections of brandies and whiskeys in the world. He began with a general education (baccalaureate and Sciences-Po degrees) before completing a master’s in the wines and spirits business in Dijon, followed by a diploma in distilling from Heriot-Watt University. Desoblin is a true expert in distilled spirits. He was named Cognac Personality of the Year in 2010, honored in 2013 by the Compagnie des Mousquetaires d’Armagnac and named Keeper of the Quaich in spring 2014.

Angela D’Orazio is the current CNO, Chief Nose Officer and Master Blender for Mackmyra whisky, where she has worked since 2004. In 1992, D’Orazio started in the industry as a Brand Ambassador for Glenmorangie in Scandinavia. Since 1996, D’Orazio has served as a spirit judge for a number of competitions including International Wine & Spirits Competition, Stockholm Beer & Whiskey Festival, Suprior Tast Award, and the International Spirits Challenge. D’Orazio also founded and ran the first Scandinavian chapter of the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society from 2003-2006.

Jet-set mixologist turned on-trade consultant, New York native Elayne Duff is an accomplished professional with more than 15 years within the beverage and alcohol industry. Elayne has led two successful careers, at two of the largest drinks companies in the world; Diageo, as the head mixologist and first-ever international luxury spirits ambassador and at AB-InBev, as the Global Manager of Training for their brand experience division, responsible for over 350 bars across five continents.   Her dedication has led her around the world teaching and consulting, which she has now consolidated into her own consultancy firm, Duff on the Rocks, crafting on-trade solutions for beverage companies everywhere.

Philip Duff is one of the cocktail community’s best-loved educators. As a renowned expert on all distilled spirits (but especially gin & genever) as well as on mixology and bar operations, Philip is an in-demand consultant to drinks brands around the world. As well as teaching seminars, founding the award-winning craft-cocktail bar door 74 (Amsterdam), owning the Old Duff Genever brand, and serving as director of education for Tales of the Cocktail, Philip regularly appears on TV & in publications as diverse as Esquire, Reuters, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Imbibe and Mixology.

Elana Effrat is Spirits Brand Manager for New York-based Martin Scott Wines, a division of Winebow Group. Previously Effrat has been an ambassador for Rhum Clément and worked with WiskyLive. She served as the buyer for Dry Dock Wine and Spirits.

H. Joseph Ehrmann, better known as H. is the 11th Proprietor of Elixir, San Francisco’s second oldest continually operating saloon. H. is recognized for his role in the pioneering efforts to revitalize cocktail culture in the last two decades. Elixir boasts one of the best whiskey collections in California with over 450 bottles on hand. H.’s industry consultancy (Cocktail Ambassadors) provides leading beverage-focused clients with product development and evaluation advisory, trade education program development and execution, and public speaking services. Lastly, his cocktail event production company (Elixir To Go) produces client entertainment and team building events for corporate and private customers around the country.

Jake Emen is a freelance journalist whose spirits coverage has been published in outlets including USA Today, Whisky Advocate, Maxim, GQ, The Washington Post Express, Vice Munchies, Roads & Kingdoms, Liquor.com, Tales of the Cocktail, Eater, and a range of other publications. He also writes about food and travel, and when he’s not trekking around the world and visiting distilleries, he’s at home tasting and reviewing their latest spirits. Follow his exploits on Twitter @ManTalkFood.

Since 2014, Nick Franchino has been the Head Distiller and Distillery Manager at Cotswolds Distillery in England where he oversees their production of award-winning single malt whisky and gin. He previously worked in food imports from his native Italy and hospitality, following degrees in archaeology, anthropology and philosophy (and a brief stint as a professional cage fighter).

Arne Hillesland is the head distiller at Distillery No. 209 in San Francisco, CA and he is responsible for developing their gin recipe. He learned his trade almost exclusively on the job with the guidance of a master distiller from Scotland. Hillesland has been distilling No. 209 Gin for over ten years and he is well respected in the gin community.

Originally from Chicago, John David Jeffery studied food chemistry at Michigan State University, performing research and development in their Artisan Distilled Spirits program. He has been the head distiller at Death’s Door Distillery and Santa Fe Spirits, and is now with Bently Heritage Distillery in Nevada.

Head of Production at Sipsmith since 2014, Oliver Kitson previously ran a brewery before taking the leap into distilling spirits. With an MSc in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University, Ollie is responsible for ensuring the uncompromising quality of Sipsmith’s award-winning products. A passionate scientist, Ollie is on the committee of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling educational body and a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry. And, Ollie now heads up a growing team of distillers and ensures that their four ‘copper ladies’ are at their peak condition as well as leading Sipsmith’s research & development.

James Lester, a self-identified “booze nerd,” is co-owner/operator of Sons of Vancouver, an award winning distillery in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. In 2013 Lester founded and continues to head the much acclaimed Vancouver Gin Society. He also runs a unique three student distillery course a couple of times a year in which Sons of Vancouver opens it’s doors and financials to the prospective distillers, some of whom have gone on to open their own award winning distilleries. In addition to helping launch a rum brand this winter, Lester can be spotted in the woods snowshoeing and picking mushrooms.

Jennifer Massolo started in the beverage industry in 1994 with Cognac giant, Remy Martin, in her hometown of Vancouver, BC. In 1997, exploring her love for wines, she moved to Santiago, Chile where she spent three years at Concha y Toro, developing their national sales, hospitality and wine education programs. The next few years would bring a growing family and Jennifer’s first move to the U.S.A. where she helped found the Miami International Wine Fair. Since 2012 Jennifer has run The Liquid Projects, a company she founded to support the growth of artisan brewers and distillers.

After working in a gin bar, Bernadette Pamplin created and began writing the gin website, undertheginfluence.com, in April 2015. Pamplin fell deeply in love with gin, particularly its history, stories and the incredible complexity of how botanicals, distilling processes and service affect the essence of each spirit. In addition, Pamplin has worked previously as a Brand Ambassador, Pamplin, she regularly contributes to Gin Magazine, and has served as a Judge for Gin of the Year ’17 and ’18, as well as the World Gin Awards ’18. Pamplin thrive in the constantly evolving and very friendly industry where there’s always something new to learn.

Daniel “Doc” Parks got his start in the industry managing the tasting room at Orfila Vineyards in Southern California, working under Wine Maker Leon Santoro. He has visited some of the most distinguished distilleries in the world including Distillerie du Simon, Distillerie JM, and Foursquare Rum Distillery. As the Beverage Director of Pagan Idol and Zombie Village in San Francisco, he has the pleasure of regularly attending master classes, trainings and tastings for every spirits category. In 2018, Doc co-founded DDP Hospitality Consulting and began working on projects for various restaurant groups around the country.

Jake Parrott is the National Sales Manager for Haus Alpenz and Sotolon Selections, an importer of wines, aromatized wines, cordials, and spirits. He oversees a small national sales team and works directly in 12 states, educating distributors, retailers, and bartenders about traditional and modern styles of drinking and mixing. The Haus Alpenz portfolio encompasses the full spectrum of traditional aromatized wine styles, including vermouth, Americano, quinquina, and vino amaro, and Jake has developed a deductive framework for working with customers to find the right aromatized wines to mix with a wide variety of craft spirits, including botanical distillates.

As Spirit Works Distillery head distiller, Lauren Patz oversees all development and production of the distillery’s range of grain-to-glass spirits, including Vodka, Gin, Sloe Gin, and Wheat and Rye Whiskeys. Spirit Works embraces a philosophy of diligent intentional creativity and strives for integrity and innovation within all their products. When Lauren isn’t on the Distillery floor, you’ll find her taking classes to further her distilling and winemaking knowledge; trying new cocktails and spirits; hiking the nearest mountain with her dog, and playing board games with her friends and family.

Brett Pontoni is Spirits Buyer for Binny’s Beverage Depot, in Chicago, the largest liquor retailer in the Midwest. He has been a supporter of craft spirits ever since North Shore Distillery opened, becoming the first craft distillery in the Chicago area. Pontoni has made Binny’s a destination for craft spirits by dedicating shelving for artisan spirits and by stocking as many craft brands as is possible.

Almost 20 years ago, Danny Ronen founded DC Spirits, a food, wine, & spirits educational organization with a focus on small producers and sustainability. For six years as Director of Education for Liquid Kitchen, Ronen ran trainings on spirits, cocktails and service to thousands of colleagues at the Fairmont and Raffles Hotels. Since, Ronen and partner Russell Davis’ consultancy Unlimited Liabilities work around the world on food/beverage creation, restaurant/hospitality concept consulting, innovation and development. In 2018, they opened neighborhood bar Academia in Austin to critical acclaim.

Alain Royer, 6th generation of a Cognac family, born in Bordeaux, raised in Cognac, educated at the Sorbonne in Paris, has been involved all his life in the making and promoting of Cognac. After 10 years in the family company, was instrumental in the creation of the Lafite Rothschild Cognac and Armagnac and the founder of A de Fussigny. Master blender, he now working as VP Development for the Cointreau family within the Renaud-Cointreau group owners of some 700 acres of vineyards in the heart of Grande Champagne and also for the Pages Védrenne company, leaders in liqueur and cordials out of Nuits Saint Georges. Cross cultural passion for brown spirits lead him to work with the late Booker Noe at Jim Beam, Parker Beam at Heaven Hill, and also more recently with Drew Kulsveen from Willet Distillery, with more to come.

Michael Sherwood comes from a family that owned a beer and wine distributorship in southern Oregon. At a tender age, he ascended to the role of bartender at family parties, learning to make a mean Manhattan at lightning speed. While helping make wine at Sineann Winery, he was recruited to manage Rogue Spirits’ rum distillery and design a new distillery/bar/restaurant. Sherwood created his own spirits brand, producing two infused vodkas under the Sub Rosa label.

Donald Snyder has been in the distilling industry for over 12 years. As the Barrel Warehouse Manager at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, Donald was on the tasting panel responsible for approving the ultra-premium bourbons before they were bottled and shipped. While working for MGP in Indiana, Donald was the Barrel Warehouse and Logistics Manager and participated in regular tastings of new and aged spirits. Since leaving the corporate world to help the craft distilling community and start Whiskey Systems Online, Donald has been to hundreds of distilleries and has tasted spirits from across the world.

Peggy Noe Stevens has worked for over 20 years in hospitality and experiential marketing. Stevens is the world’s first Master Bourbon Taster and in 2011, she founded Bourbon Women Association which has over 4oo members in 20 states for “women who are passionate about exploring bourbon and the culture that surrounds it.

Michael Vachon is co-founder of Maverick Drinks, who are leading the craft spirits movement in the UK. Maverick Drinks’ disruptive approach to representing spirits brands has challenged the way brands and bars work together and in 2014, 2016, and 2017, the IWSC awarded Maverick Drinks Spirits Distributor of the Year. Michael has been featured in international press (NY Times, Time Magazine, Imbibe UK, The Drinks Business, among others) and is recognised as one of the strongest advocates of the international craft spirits movement.

Lara Victoria is a WSET Certified Educator and Certified Sherry Educator teaching all levels of certification in wine, spirits and sake for Cru Classe Hospitality Corp. in Vancouver. Trained as a Pastry Chef as well, Lara has an in-depth understanding of the science of molecular taste and its relation to food and beverage. Such experience in multiple disciplines of food and beverage alcohol makes her a valuable member of any taste evaluation team. Lara is also a Judge for IWSC for wines, spirits and sake and an editorial contributor to several online and print publications.

Monica Wolf, Managing Partner of Wolf Consulting LLC, has been in and around the bourbon world since 2004, when she interned at Buffalo Trace Distillery during college. She is a board member of the Bourbon Women Association, organizes and plans events on behalf of craft distilleries, hosts bourbon tastings/dinner pairings at her event space in Louisville, Kentucky and is the first ever Bourbon Ambassador at Churchill Downs, the famed racetrack of the Kentucky Derby.

Andie Ferman has been working in hospitality for over 20 years and has established a name for herself by crafting memorable experiences for industry professionals and members of the public alike. Passionate about spirits and continued exposure to educational opportunities. Andie has created “Dynamic Sensory Seminars” and executed them at national events like Manhattan Cocktail Classic, abd Portland Cocktail Week. Seminars like: The Nose, Knows; A Class on the Importance and Impact of Your Tasting Glass. Smell the Rainbow; A class about Synesthesia, and the power of color in sensory perception. Is it Getting Hot In Here? A seminar about heat and how it can affect spirits. She is grateful , honored and proud to be part of the esteemed panel of ADI judges for 2019.

Lenny Gotter founded Eastside Distilling and was the CEO from 2008 to 2014 when the company was the first craft distillery to go public on NASDAQ symbol EAST. During his tenure, he created more than a dozen award-winning brands and flavor profiles all the while aggressively driving business growth. He stayed on as director until 2016 when he started working as an independent consultant. Since then he has judged in a number of spirits competitions, runs his own tasting group, Portland Whisky Club, and has written several freelance articles and updates his own blog and Instagram The Liquorist with his own creations as well as reviews of craft spirits.

Washington, DC-based cocktail entrepreneur Eric Kozlik is the CEO of Modern Bar Cart, host of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast, and creator of The Essential Tasting Journal for Spirits & Cocktails. He works continuously to bridge the gap between industry professionals and home consumers, fueled by his passion for the spirits and cocktail world and his extensive background in teaching and writing.

Peter Vestinos With over 16 years of experience in the bar and restaurant industry, Peter he has worked at all levels of the business including behind the bar, distribution, and supplier. He is currently a Craft Spirits Specialist for the Winebow Group and a partner in Sparrow, a rum bar in Chicago’s Gold Coast. In 2012 Vestinos launched the beverage consulting company, The BarMedic, to develop cocktail programs, train bartenders, assist with brand marketing, and to educate consumers through classes.

David Warter joined the Gallo winery in 1999. He earned both an MS in Viticulture and Enology and an MBA from the University of California, Davis in 2004, and immediately started with Gallo’s winemaking team after graduation. He joined Gallo’s distillation team in 2012. David has traveled around the US, Mexico and the Caribbean to make vodka, gin, tequila, rum and whiskey. His team manages three different distilleries in California which primarily focus on brandy. David has an appreciation for spirits across the price spectrum making products ranging from $10-$500 per bottle.