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Icons of Whisky 2016

After another year of brand innovation, distillery revival and inspirational individuals, it is very exciting to have once again reached the final stage of the 2016 Icons of Whisky awards.

With new categories including Master Distiller / Master Blender, World Whisky Ambassador, Travel Retailer and Supermarket added to this year’s line-up, there is opportunity to recognise achievements in many sectors of the industry. These awards offer the chance to not only celebrate the exceptional work of better known brands and their dedicated staff, but they also help seek out those hidden gems.

Having recently announced the winners of the America, Scotland and Rest of World stage of the awards, our editorial panel were left with the unenviable task of choosing the Icons of Whisky Global winners in each of the 16 categories. Given the wealth of talent available to choose from, the judges most definitely had their work cut out.

Receiving an Icons of Whisky award is certainly something to celebrate, and we hope you will join us in honouring the finest people and places in the whisky industry as we proudly present the 2016 winners.

American Whiskey Brand Ambassador of the year

Bernie Lubbers - Heaven Hill Brands

In his role, Bernie Lubbers further enhances the ascending profile of the Heaven Hill American Whiskey Collection among both consumers and trade. He educates on history, production, laws and standards of the products in the Heaven Hill whiskey family. He concentrates on speciality Bourbons including Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage and Elijah Craig. Before joining Heaven Hill, Bernie spent seven years in the supplier tier implementing training and educational programs. He is widely known as ‘The Whiskey Professor.’

Shortlist
Bernie Lubbers - Heaven Hill Brands
James Goggin - Maverick Drinks

Brand Innovator of the year

Douglas Laing & Co

Scotch whisky specialist and independent bottler Douglas Laing & Co selects and releases some of the finest and rarest whiskies across the Scottish regions. With innovative brands brought to life by instantly recognisable label and packaging designs, Douglas Laing’s products not only look appealing, but they are bottled at high alcohol strength and without colouring or chill-filtration. Each brand in the company’s portfolio is created with ‘character, charm and supreme quality’ and you can read about their individual stories at www.douglaslaing.com/ brand-stories

Shortlist
Compass Box
Douglas Laing & Co
Jim Beam (Beam Suntory)

Craft Producer of the year

Westland Distillery

Founded in 2010 in Seattle, Washington, Westland Distillery mashes, distils, matures and bottles American single malt whiskey in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.

The distillery’s three core expressions, American Single Malt, Peated Malt and Sherry Wood, bring a new and distinctly American voice to the world of single malt whiskey. The distillery is located in the SoDo neighbourhood where you can go along and visit the 13,000 square feet site. Tours run four days per week and will give you all the information you need on the production process of American single malt whiskey.

Shortlist
Ballindalloch Distillery
Still Waters Distillery
Westland Distillery

Distiller of the year

Heaven Hill Brands

Heaven Hill Brands is a family owned producer of Bourbon and American whiskey. In 2014, the company incorporated the word ‘Brands’ into its name to mark its evolution from a whiskey producer to a leading supplier of distilled spirits. Heaven Hill Brands supplies a vast range of spirits and liqueurs with world famous Bourbons such as Evan Williams, Elijah Craig and Parker’s Heritage Collection among its portfolio.

The involvement of the Shapira and Beam families has helped the company to retain its family values and independence to produce and market high quality spirits.

Shortlist
Heaven Hill Brands
The Nikka Whisky Distilling Company
Tomatin Distillery

Distillery Manager of the year

Koichi Nishikawa - Yoichi Distillery

Koichi Nishikawa was born in Kyoto in 1957 and began his career in the whisky industry after completing his studies at Kyoto University. He graduated with a degree in Agriculture in 1982 and joined Nikka Whisky Distilling Company where he was assigned to the Nishinomiya Factory. He held production and quality-control posts at several sites in and outside of Japan, including Nikka owned Yoichi, Miyagikyo and Ben Nevis distilleries. In January 2015, he was appointed as Distillery Manager of Yoichi Distillery.

Shortlist
Koichi Nishikawa - Yoichi Distillery
Neil Cameron - Glenturret Distillery
Todd Roe - Woodford Reserve Distillery

Irish Whiskey Brand Ambassador of the year

John Quinn - Tullamore D.E.W.

In March 2011, John Quinn was appointed the first ever Global Brand Ambassador for Tullamore D.E.W. Tasked with travelling around the globe, John is responsible for spreading the word and improving product knowledge about Tullamore D.E.W. and working closely with key bar staff, brand managers and consumers. He also works alongside an enthusiastic team of local brand ambassadors in key markets such as America, UK, France, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Scandinavia and Ireland. John has worked with the brand for 35 years.

Shortlist
John Quinn - Tullamore D.E.W.
Tim Herlihy - Tullamore D.E.W.

Master Distiller / Master Blender of the year

Dr Bill Lumsden - The Glenmorangie Company

As head of distilling and whisky creation at The Glenmorangie Company, Bill covers operations for both Glenmorangie and Ardbeg distilleries. Tasked with creating and developing new releases for both brands, as well as selecting casks for their core ranges, Bill is certainly deserving of this Icons title. He is considered a pioneer in the malt whisky industry and travels the world to seek out the best oak for his products. He has both won and judged in many awards.

Shortlist
Andy Watts - James Sedgwick Distillery
Dr Bill Lumsden - The Glenmorangie Company
Harlen Wheatley - Buffalo Trace Distillery

Multiple Outlets Retailer of the year

La Maison Du Whisky

La Maison du Whisky is a family business and was founded by Georges Bénitah in 1956. The company grew to become one of the largest French specialists of the importation and distribution of rare whiskies. Thanks to the ever-growing whisky market both in France and around the world, La Maison du Whisky has been able to open up a number of successful stores. The first opened in Paris in 1968 and since then they have expanded to Réunion and Singapore.

Shortlist
Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop
La Maison du Whisky
Liquor Barn

Online Retailer of the year

Master Of Malt

Starting in a retail shop in Royal Tunbridge Wells, the Master of Malt website now provides one of the most expansive ranges of fine and rare malts to be found anywhere in the world. The site is simple and easy to navigate, combining distillery facts, tasting notes and products. The company demonstrates industry leading knowledge and experience with a drive and passion for all things whisky related. Indulge in Master of Malt’s own independent offerings or explore the vast range of tasting sets on offer.

Shortlist
Binny’s Beverage Depot
Master of Malt
Royal Mile Whiskies

Scotch Whisky Brand Ambassador of the year

Simon Brooking - Beam Suntory

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Simon is a well-known expert on Scotch whisky having worked for many of the leading Scotch distilleries, learning the art and science of distilling from the world’s foremost master distillers and blenders. For nearly 20 years, Simon has led thousands of Scotch whisky tastings for consumers, bartenders and social organisations.

Informative and entertaining, his presentations have made him an in-demand spokesperson for the whisky industry.

Shortlist
Beth Havers - William Grant & Sons
Colin Dunn - Diageo PLC
Simon Brooking - Beam Suntory

Single Outlet Retailer of the Year

Celtic Whiskey Shop

Since 2003, the Celtic Whiskey Shop, based in the heart of Dublin, has worked hard to build strong ties with distilleries and wineries around the world so as to offer a whiskey mecca for lovers in Ireland and abroad. The company also has its own exclusive label, Celtic Cask, of which it only releases bottles once they have reached their full potential. The store offers the customer a true whiskey experience with exclusive products, launches, tasting evenings and distillery tours.

Shortlist
Astor Wines & Spirits
Celtic Whiskey Shop
The Whisky Shop Dufftown

Supermarket of the year

Sainsbury’s

Founded in 1869 and operating over 1,200 supermarkets and convenience stores, J Sainsbury continues to be the supermarket of choice for many thanks to the quality and range of goods and services on offer. When it comes to whisky, the selection both in store and online is sure to meet the needs of the whisky enthusiast and the gift shopper alike. With a huge selection of single malts and blends available from around the world, and all at affordable prices, your weekly shop can easily include your favourite dram. Watch out for savings on Sainbury’s own branded single malt.

Shortlist
Sainsbury’s
Tesco

Travel Retailer of the year

DFS Group - Changi Airport

It all began for DFS Group in 1960 when Robert Miller and Charles Feeney established the first store location in Hong Kong on 7 November. By 1970s, the company was rapidly expanding and opening stores worldwide, one of which was located in Changi Airport, Singapore.

Here you can find some of the world’s most premium whiskies. Sample Travel Retail exclusives or find the perfect gift at this unique customer experience.

Shortlist
DFS Group Changi Airport (Singapore)
Duty Free Americas
World of Whiskies Edinburgh
and Glasgow Airports

Visitor Attraction Manager of the year

Stuart Cassells - The Famous Grouse Experience

As the founding member of world famous ‘bagrock’ group The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Stuart Cassells is no stranger to spreading the word about what Scotland has to offer. But having played his final concert with the group in 2011, Stuart has since found his spiritual home as General Manager of The Famous Grouse Experience. Stuart has helped to develop the attraction by working closely with the local community and offering a first rate visitor experience.

Shortlist
Dee Ford - Woodford Reserve Distillery
Mary Hensey - Tullamore D.E.W. Distillery
Stuart Cassells - The Famous Grouse Experience

Visitor Attraction of the year

Teeling Whiskey Company

The Teeling Whiskey Distillery has enjoyed huge success since its official launch in June 2015. Bringing whiskey distillation back to Dublin after 125 years, it is no wonder fans are flocking in their thousands to visit. By December 2015, the distillery had welcomed 25,000 visitors. Visit seven days a week from 9.30am to 5.30pm and join a guided tour to see all elements of the production process. Enjoy a dram and a pre-prohibition cocktail as part of the tour or upgrade to a Teeling Trinity tasting to enjoy more award-winning single malts.

Shortlist
Ardbeg Distillery
Evan Williams
Bourbon Experience
Teeling Whiskey Company

World Whisky Brand Ambassador of the year

Ashok Chokalingam - Amrut Distilleries

Ashok is well known on the world whisky scene and is best known for his work with Amrut Distilleries where he is currently head of International Operations. Credited as the reason for much of the success of Amrut, Ashok spends much of his time travelling across the globe conducting seminars and masterclasses, focusing on the growth of Indian whisky and in particular the award winning Amrut range. Ashok is currently pursuing a Diploma in Distillation with the Institute of Brewing and Distillation, London, to enhance his technical skills.

Shortlist
Ashok Chokalingam
Amrut Distilleries
Ewan Morgan
Diageo North America