The following industry professionals will be participating in Whiskey Obsession by pouring and discussing their favorite spirits. Limited seating will be available at the Thursday, March 27, 2014 Panel of Whiskey Experts discussion and small group classes to be held during the grand tasting on Friday, March 28, 2014.
Scottish-American with roots/family in Edinburgh Scotland. Spent the last twenty summers touring, learning, and working 42 different whisky distilleries in the Highland/Islands of Scotland with strong emphasis on The Macallan Single Malt Whisky. Ran a club (for 10 years) with the largest collection of scotch in the state of Florida (125 at the time). Strong advocate of Scottish Heritage, Culture, Food, and Drink (Scotch Whisky of course). Enjoys a ‘slightly irreverent’ take on educational seminars and planned events across twelve states in the southeastern USA. Known for an occasional ‘bawdy’ toast. Lives in Sarasota Florida.
Master Brand Ambassador David Blackmore leads the Glenmorangie USA educational program, exciting and educating the industry and consumers on the nuances of Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky through tastings and events across the U.S.
A native of Scotland, David is an experienced professional whisky tutor with a background at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Scotland and London. With a sophisticated nose, David led The Society’s prestigious “Tasting Panel” in selecting casks for bottling.
A Glenmorangie U.S. Brand Ambassador since 2005, David was recently named the “2014 Scotch Whisky Ambassador of the Year” by Whisky Magazine for the third consecutive year.
President, Templeton Rye
Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, David took a roundabout path to arrive in the world of whiskey. A graduate of Virginia Tech and Columbia University’s School of Engineering, he had stints working for the DoD and the world of bond trading in New York City. Seeking a change of pace from New York as his children were reaching kindergarten age, he discovered a small batch distiller in the Catskill Mountain range. Offering his services pro bono he learned the functional reality of operating a distillery and took his experience back to his native Virginia. A partnership with his childhood friend James Carpenter took the business from a work in progress to reality. Together they produce award winning small batch Bourbon, Wheat and Rye Whiskies that are distributed through the Vintner Group of Ashland, Va.
A leading trendsetter of the spirit and cocktail scene in New York City for over fourteen years, Gardner Dunn is proud to be approaching his fifth full year as Brand Ambassador for Suntory Whisky. Whether carving ice for cocktails or educating consumers, trade and press on the subtle, refined yet complex taste of Suntory’s whisky, Gardner’s dedication to his craft is unmatched, making him the perfect representative for Japan’s first and oldest name in artisanal Japanese whisky.
Gardner Dunn has a rich professional history in his rise to Suntory fame. A graduate of the Beverage Alcohol Resource, Dunn was a star barman at some of New York City’s top venues including Butter, PM, the TriBeCa Grand Hotel, Table 50, A Voce, Cain, and the Spotted Pig. Gardner proudly represented New York City in the 2005 Cocktail World Cup hosted by 42 Below in New Zealand and at the Cabana Cachaca competition in Brazil.
Since joining Suntory, the results of Dunn’s efforts have been clear in the tremendous growth of the Japanese whisky category, and rampant recognition of Suntory as a premier player in the market: during his tenure, Suntory has received over 80 awards. Dunn was publically recognized for his work in 2010, when he received the Whisky Guild’s prestigious “Brand Ambassador of the Year” award. He continues to hone his professional skills with frequent trips to Japan to study culture, whisky trends, and techniques with Suntory’s Master Blender and Chief Distiller. He is ever present at the tastings and seminars he conducts nationally on the history and complexity of Suntory Whiskies.
John Foster began his career in small-production spirits in 2009 when he joined ranks with Head Distiller John Little to become one of the original distillers at Smooth Ambler Spirits. Producing Vodka, Gin, Bourbon and many other handcrafted and merchant-bottled whiskies, the company has grown exponentially since its inception, with Foster taking on the role of National Sales Director not long after its launch. Currently, John splits his time between his home and office in West Virginia, and on the road as former-distiller, spirits educator, sales guru, and devourer of Old Fashioneds.
CEO, The Lost Distillery Company
After growing up in CO, I moved to the nation’s capital in 2007 to get into the wine industry. After a brief stint in a wine shop and a couple years as a local wine rep, I worked with David Perkins for a couple days. Shortly afterwards, he offered me a gig working the Eastern US for High West. Now I spend my days cruising around and spreading the good word. When I’m home, I spend a bunch of time hanging out with my wife and our sleepy pitbull.
Gary is leading the Company’s national initiative as an importer and supplier of fine spirits for Classic Imports. He received the honor, ‘Keeper of the Quaich’ in Scotland in April 2013 in recognition for his contributions to the Scotch Whisky industry. Gary reports to ownership and has been responsible for developing and leading several internal projects and standardization efforts. Formerly part of United Liquors senior management team, he has experience in all facets of the industry both in open and control states which include sales, supply chain, warehouse operations, and general management functions. Gary has a dual degree from The Whitman School of Management and The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University as well as an M.B.A. from Babson College.
Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland – an area steeped in whisky trading and blending tradition – The Balvenie Brand Ambassador David Laird brings 10 years of experience with whisky on both sides of the bar, having managed and owned bars in Tennessee and Oregon. David is both a science fanatic and an avid soccer player, boasting two science degrees and having receiving a soccer scholarship that eventually brought him to the United States.
For Lauren Mayer, life continues to get more spirited. Born into a whisky family, Lauren began her career at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America, Ltd. Founded by her parents, Alan & Madeleine Shayne in 1993, she is now co-managing director of this exclusive private membership club, along with her sister Gabrielle Shayne. Like most sisters, they have a number of similarities, yet both have unique qualities that make them strong individuals. Lauren has an enthusiasm for the finer things in life which includes gourmet food, fashion, fine wines and unique spirits. The smartly dressed, attractive brunette is not the first girl you’d expect to challenge your knowledge of whisky. But that’s exactly what you get when you meet her. Lauren’s passion for rare and unique spirits has landed her the opportunity to provide goods and services to America’s most influential whisky collectors and enthusiasts. At only 30 years old, she has an unwavering dedication to fulfilling the needs of her clients and resourcing the ultimate spirits for their particular desire.
Todd is the Diageo Whisk(e)y Ambassador for the areas of Florida, Indiana and Kentucky. Responsible for trade education and advocacy for the entire whiskey portfolio at Diageo, including the Classic Malts, Dickel whiskies, Bulleit whiskies, Bushmills Irish Whiskey portfolio, Johnny Walker and other blended Scotch whiskies in the portfolio, he leads the local whisky education program for the trade, consumers and events. Todd comes from a culinary background and has studied craft cocktails for several years. Todd is an active member of the Miami Chapter of the United States bartender’s Guild, a graduate of the BarSmarts Advanced Program, a BAR ready graduate of the Beverage Alcohol Resource 5 day program 2012, The Liquid Lab and a Level One Certified Sake Specialist. In July 2013, Todd was honored with the prestigious award of Best American Brand Ambassador of the year at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards for his work with the Sidney Frank Importing portfolio.
Christopher has been in the wine & spirits industry for 14 years as both a Distributor and Supplier Manager. Christopher helped launch Angels Envy Bourbon through Premier Beverage in 2011 and is the newest addition to the Angels Envy Whiskey Guardian team. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, he has a passion for all American Craft Spirits, especially American Whiskeys and Rums. Don’t let his size intimidate you, this “teddy bear” of a guy is guaranteed to make you smile as he tastes you on some amazing spirits. Cheers!!
At the age of nineteen, on September 10, 1954, James C. Russell joined the JTS Brown Distillery Company (later to be renamed The Austin Nichols Distillery Company). He has been making whiskey in Lawrenceburg ever since. Growing up just five miles from the distillery, Jimmy followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He trained under Bill Hughes, the second master distiller, and Ernest W. Ripy, Jr., the son of the original owner.
Jimmy Russell has gained a reputation as “the Master Distillers’ Master Distiller.” From the first selection of grains through the entire distillation and aging process, he has fused experience and wisdom to create the finest examples of America’s spirit.
Raj was born in England, grew up in Toronto, Canada and so far has lived in 18 cities in 5 countries.
After 25 years in the corporate world Raj decided to follow his passions for fine wine and spirits and in 2010 started Purple Valley Imports USA LLC. Raj is an avid wine and spirits collector and is WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) Advanced certified and is also a certified Wine and Spirits Educator.
In 4 years Raj has grown PVI Global from representing 1 brand in 3 states to today representing 8 brands in over 30 States.
At present PVI Global, USA’s portfolio includes select wines, Amrut Single Malts and Rums, Blackadder, English Whisky Co., Stalk & Barrel Whisky, Sullivans’ Cove, Drouet Cognac, St. Nicholas Abbey Rum and will be introducing 3 new spirits this year.
When not on a plane Raj enjoys spending time with his wife Maddie, cycling, cooking, and discovering new world class spirits and wines.
PVI Global, USA is an importer specializing in world class spirits from independent distilleries. Raj personally selects the brands and selections offered by Purple Valley Imports. Purple Valley Imports has been named “Whisky Importer of the Year” for 2013 and 2014 by Whisky Magazine’s Icons of America Whisky.
Alan Shayne is the Founder, President and CEO of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America, Ltd., the United States branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The Society is an international private membership club founded in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1983 by a small group of Scots who were most privileged to acquire single casks of exceptional malt whiskies from Scotland’s most prestigious distilleries. The Society is recognized as the worlds leading authority on single cask, single malt Scotch whisky and is the world’s largest organization of its kind.
Mr. Shayne launched the Society in the United States in 1993 with the goal of introducing Americans to the world of single cask, single malts and raising awareness of all the products in the category of Scotch whisky. In the same year, he created The Whisky Extravaganza®, the first series of national tasting events that focused exclusively on single malt and Scotch whiskies. The Extravaganza is a gala event featuring over 100 of the world’s finest single malt and Scotch whiskies. Today, the Extravaganza celebrates its 21st year since inception and has grown to take place in over 13 cities throughout the country.
Mr. Shayne, a recognized connoisseur of fine wines and distilled spirits, began his career in the wine and spirits industry at the age of 22 when he opened New York’s first wine themed bar/night club. In 1977, he joined his family business, Merit Display Company, New York’s premier alcoholic beverage merchandising company. Upon the sale of Merit Display Company in 1983, Mr. Shayne was appointed Vice President of Marketing for Wellington Importers, Ltd., the United States subsidiary of the Bell’s Scotch Whisky Company. Mr. Shayne co-founded Blair Importers, Ltd. in 1988, acting in the capacity of Executive Vice President prior to forming The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America, Ltd. in 1993. He is concurrently the President and CEO of Spirit Imports, Inc., a United States importer and brand owner of ultra-premium spirits.
Lesley was born in County Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland. She graduated this year from Business and Law in University College Dublin, where she majored in Marketing. She loves to travel, and has trekked in the Atlas mountains in Morocco and spent three months in Huntington Beach, California. She has never been to Orlando, and is looking forward to spreading love of Jameson in North Florida.
We moved to our farm near Umatilla, FL in 1990 and in 2006 started to hear about small farmers micro-distilling to supplement their income. We researched small batch distilling and Florida Farm Distillers was born in 2007. From fermentation to distillation, barreling to hand applying labels, everything is done on the farm by us. We are truly farm to glass. We are proud of our award winning craft whiskey currently distributed throughout Florida, Missouri and Nashville area.
James, son of Kilchoman Founder Anthony Wills has been involved in the distillery from its infancy and claims to have done every single job in the distillery since in establishment in 2005 – from polishing the stills when they first arrived to bottling the first malt by hand (with tea pot!), James knows the distillery’s every nook and cranny. Having worked in the drinks industry in London for four years after university James returned fulltime to the family business in January this year. He, his father and brother now form the Kilchoman Sales and Marketing team with James concentrating particularly on the US market where Kilchoman has grown enormously in popularity since its first launch in 2010 and is quickly developing a cult status with Scotch whisky drinkers.
Louisa’s second home is in the skies as she travels far and wide, taking our Single Malt to far flung corners of the globe. Louisa works primarily with our distributors in the USA, Canada, Scandinavia and Japan and anyone who has attended an event presented by her would agree that her enthusiasm is hard to beat.
Historian at Four Roses, he has more than 40-years knowledge & experience with the distillery.
Trey Zoeller is the President of McLain & Kyne Distillery, Ltd. He founded McLain & Kyne Distillery in 1997 when he developed, produced and began marketing Jefferson’s Reserve, “very small batch”, Kentucky straight bourbon whisky. McLain & Kyne currently produces 5 lines of very small batch bourbon including Jefferson’s, Jefferson’s Reserve, Jefferson’s Presidential Select, Jefferson’s Rye and Jefferson’s Ocean. M&K portfolio is distributed in 50 states and 9 countries. Trey purchases aged bourbon in barrels, ages it and finally marries “very small batches” to deliver a unique, yet consistent flavor profile for each of his four whiskies.
Zoeller also founded the Phoenix Global Group, LLC in 2003 to introduce Pink and Vegas energy drinks, Pink 2-0 “Water for Women”, Pinque Chardonnay. He also partnered with a Kentucky brewery to produce Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout.
Trey is the father of twins.
Zoeller received a Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA.