In a blind tasting, our expert panel of ten judges, including whisky writers, industry representatives and specialist retailers, selected two finalists from each Whisky Awards category.

Fergus Simpson

Fergus Simpson

Although Fergus is originally from Aberdeen and has had a lifelong interest in whisky, he only entered the trade later in life. It was only on returning to his native Scotland after many years in the south of England and abroad that he started in the whisky business.

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Hamish Marshall

Hamish Marshall

A trained chef and one-time Restauranteur, Hamish cut his teeth in the Drinks Business as a Sales Representative with the then Lang Brothers Distillers, part of the Robertson & Baxter Group. His portfolio contained Langs Supreme and Glengoyne along with prestigious brands Remy Martin and Krug. The formation of the Macallan Langs Partnership brought an opportunity to be involved in very exciting times as part of the team that built The Macallan brand into the No 1 Malt Whisky brand on Speyside and Scotland.

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Ian Wisniewski

Ian Wisniewski

An unexpected assignment from a drinks magazine when he was starting out in journalism steered Ian Wisniewski into the industry where he has remained. His first visit to a malt whisky distillery was a turning point: he found it so fascinating that he decided he had to learn as much about Scotch whisky as he could, and he is still learning, visiting distilleries as often as possible and constantly asking questions.

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Justine Hazlehurst

Justine Hazlehurst

Justine Hazlehurst is the founder of Kask Whisky, a whisky events company based in Edinburgh. As a proud citizen of Leith, Justine has recently started the Leith Whisky Trail – walking tours, focusing on the history of the brokers, blenders and bottlers of what was once a thriving whisky district, which culminate in a tasting of some ‘blast from the past’ drams all linked to the area.

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Robert Anderson

Robert Anderson

After a series of accounting positions in the Malting, Leisure and Timber industries, Robert Anderson took up a similar position with Tomatin, which is a Highland Single Malt, in 1988 just 2 years after the new company at the distillery was formed. He progressed to company secretary in 1990 and in 2009 was appointed MD of J & W Hardie Ltd formed in 2001 to progress the branding side of Tomatin’s business.

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Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen

Steve joined the industry and First Quench Retailing as soon as he turned 18 years old. He began working with his father and served his time as an Assistant Manager of a Wine Rack off-licence whilst studying Social Sciences at University. The father-son partnership worked and their Aberdeen store was one of the most successful stores in the FQR portfolio. A blessing in disguise came as the entire chain entered administration in 2009.

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Nicola Young

Nicola Young

Nicola Young is a long time Ambassador for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society where she travels the country exhibiting at numerous whisky festivals and hosting tastings for their members. Also, Nicola is one half of the blog, father and daughter duo, The Whisky Boys where current global whisky goings-on are reviewed and shared.

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Karen Somerville

Karen Somerville

Co-Director of The Fife Whisky Festival, The first female lead whisky Festival of its kind.

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Penny Ellis

Penny Ellis

Penny, a former Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Director, jointly owns and runs Knockomie Hotel in Forres. With over 30 years experience in the hospitality industry, Penny has also worked with J&B Rare Whisky and Cutty Sark Scots Whisky, looking after and managing the companies corporate guests. Penny developed a keen interest in whisky through her hotel located near the Western gateway to the Speyside Whisky Trail.

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We are currently working on the programme for the next Festival which will take place on the 27th of April to the 2nf of May 2022! Please keep an eye on our social media channels and news section for updates on the preview and launch dates!

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