Special Guests

Mike Brisebois
North American Brand Ambassador - Distell

Mike has been a malt specialist for just over five years, but his passion for whisky began well before that. Mike is a bilingual Ottawa native whose whisky journey began attending whisky festivals, joining the Caskers of Ottawa Whisky Club, and judging the Canadian Whisky Awards.

He now works as the North American Brand Ambassador for Distell Distilleries including Bunnahabhain Islay Distillery, Deanston Distillery, and Tobermory Distillery and has conducted tastings throughout Canada and the US.

His first pilgrimage to Scotland was in the Spring of 2016 where his fondest memory was enjoying a dram of Bunnahabhain 18 while overlooking the sound of Islay at Bunnahabhain distillery.

Tish Harcus
Brand Ambassador - Canadian Club

Tish is responsible for managing the Canadian Club Brand Center in Walkerville, Ontario, and attends whisky shows in Canada and the US to share her love of the portfolio. With over 27 years of experience representing the brand, she is a key member of the Global CC marketing team.

In March 2014 she accepted two awards in London, England for 2013/14 Whisky Center Manager of the Year from the prestigious Icons of Whisky Association.

In 2013 Tish developed the CC Women & Whisky program for women who are interested in knowing more or discovering whisky for the first time. Since its inception, she has traveled the world sharing her knowledge with women.

Tish takes great pride in sharing Canadian Club's historical facts with key sales people, distributors and the general public.

Matt Jones
Whisk(e)y Ambassador - Beam Suntory

Matt has been Beam Suntory Canada's Bourbon Whiskey Ambassador since 2010, representing the Jim Beam Family, Maker's Mark, Knob Creek, Basil Hayden's, Baker's and Booker's Small Batch Collection. Matt has been working within the beverage alcohol industry for 18 years as bartender, mixologist and consultant, so it's no surprise that Matt's passions include the culinary arts, cocktails, and people. Known to many as The Whisk(e)y Chef, Matt travels across Canada preaching the gospel of whisk(e)y and spreading his love of bourbon often with a cocktail and culinary approach. This, coupled with his love of travel and wealth of knowledge in the alcohol beverage industry, has made Matt the perfect bourbon specialist to travel coast to coast educating consumers and trade professionals on whisk(e)y.

In 2016 Matt was officially highly commended by Whisky Magazine's Icons of Whisky as World Whisky Ambassador of the Year 2016 and won the Global American Whiskey Ambassador of the Year 2017. Matt was most recently featured on the cover of Whisky Magazine issue 138, a global publication.

Davin de Kergommeaux

Davin de Kergommeaux has been writing about, talking about, and teaching about whisky for two decades. In 2016 The Globe and Mail named him one of the most influential Canadians in Food and Drink.

His new book, Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Edition, second edition, was published on October 3, 2017, on the Appetite by Random House imprint.

Davin is the founder and chairperson of the Canadian Whisky Awards, and publishes comprehensive notes about Canadian whiskies on canadianwhisky.org. He lives in Canada and writes full time.

Find him on social media @Davindek.

Johanne McInnis
AKA: The Whisky Lassie

Freelance spirits writer, whisky panelist and judge with over 25 years experience as a public speaker.

Armed with an educational background in distillation she regularly travels the world and presents master classes in the UK well as North America.

Passionate, enthusiastic and entertaining; Johanne loves to share her stories, knowledge base and help others on their own spirits discovery journey.

Graham MacKenney

Graham can thank his dad for the introduction to whisky when he was in his early 20's as it quickly turned into a passion.

He is a founding member and past president of the Saint John Whisky Tasting Society, has been a presenter, writer and judge for the Canadian Whisky Awards and more recently expanded his passions for spirits to the rum category as well. Graham travels regularly near and far to visit distilleries and increase his knowledge and experience may it be walking down the whisky trail or the rum run!

Cameron Millar
Portfolio Ambassador - Edrington

After a brief discussion with Cameron, two things become evident: first, is his fiery passion for whisky, and the second is his gift for the gab, always willing to chat with anyone at length about his favourite spirit; the water of life, whisky. After beginning a career in the marketing world, Cameron attended a Raise The Macallan event in his home town of Toronto and has been enamored with the Highland sweetheart ever since. Seeking out knowledge and becoming a resource for friends and family, Cameron transitioned into a full-time whisky ambassador.

Now a certified Scotch Whisky Ambassador, Cameron is honoured to represent the Edrington Portfolio that includes such award winnings spirits as The Macallan, Highland Park, The Glenrothes, The Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark and Brugal Rum.

Willie Nelson
Regional Sales Manager - Phillips Distilling

Willie Nelson is the Eastern Canadian Regional Sales Manager for Phillips Distilling Co., the North American representative for the Tomatin brand. Willie is based out of Toronto and in his role manages Ontario and all provinces east.

His varied responsibilities expose Willie to multiple brands and categories within distilled spirits and in particular, Whisky. As such, he has conducted multiple master classes, trainings and consumer samplings of whisky. Tomatin Highland Single Malt Whisky is a personal favourite brand of Willie's as the varying expressions represent something unique and desired to any whisky palate.

If he is not promoting whisky Willie is likely to be found on the lake enjoying an active water sport or shredding on the slopes of a mountain. Contrary to popular belief he is not a singer/songwriter!!

Chris Thompson
Brand Ambassador - Forty Creek Whisky

Falling in love with whisky at first sip, Chris Thompson aspires to share the Forty Creek story with whisky fans everywhere. With an extensive background in relationship building and creating brand experiences, his current role allows him to develop partnerships with key influencers and consumers, all the while sharing his love for the Grimsby, Ontario-based brand known for its range of complex, yet approachable whiskies.

Thompson has been an active member of the Forty Creek team, and played a key role in creating the distillery's on-site experience. Starting as a retail manager, he gained a rich understanding of the brand's offerings and was eager to share his passion for the Forty Creek portfolio with colleagues and customers.

Prior to joining Forty Creek, Thompson began his career in the entertainment industry, working on the road with Canadian and international artists, producing award shows, music festivals and corporate events. Living in Niagara, the heart of Ontario's wine country, he landed in the tourism and wine industry, helping build award-winning attractions and wineries from the ground up. When he's not working, an ideal day for Thompson entails putting on a record (yes, vinyl one!), spending time with family and enjoying a glass of Forty Creek

Bill Somerville
Brand Ambassador- Gordon and MacPhail

Born in Scotland, Bill is the Ambassador for Benromach and Gordon & MacPhail.  Gordon and MacPhail are renowned for selecting, maturing and bottling some of the world’s finest and rarest single malt Scotch whiskies. 

In his sordid past, Bill was a hotelier in Scotland, a waiter in Greece, a masseur in Glasgow,  restaurateur in Toronto, a reporter, owner and editor of the Claymore Times and owner of several businesses most of which were legal.

Today he is a valued member of society, board advisor to Durham College, volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, studied Anthropology at Trent, Whisky tasting at Moray College, mechanics at Anniesland, an ordained minister (just in case a friend needs to get married quickly) and a member of the PMI.

He is, for all intents and purposes the quintessential “international man of mystery”.

Frank Biskupek
Brand Ambassador- “The Glenlivet”

A truer scot there never was than Frank Biskupek, the Canadian Brand Ambassador of The Glenlivet. From his anecdotal approach to educating friends about whisky to the witticisms he employs to describe the complex flavour profiles of our whisky portfolio – he’s one of a kind. His knowledge is boundless and he knows when to put it to work, but never one to shy away from a simplicity when the time arises. Upon sipping on a dram of our Founder’s Reserve, Frank will lovingly stare at the golden dram and say, to no one in particular in a room full of people: ‘Words like… Delicious, come to mind.’.

Tim Farrell
National Portfolio Manager at Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits

David Smith

David Smith represents the Brown-Forman portfolio of products in Eastern Ontario, including Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Wordford Reserve and Old Forester Kentucky Bourbons, as well as Collingwood Canadian Whisky. David specializes in American Whiskey but speaks to all styles and categories, taking consumers through the journey of Whiskey creation and production from acorn to glass. Characterized by his casual yet informative presentation style, he aims to make Whiskey fun and accessible to everyone. Large groups can be kept entertained with Storytelling and Tutored Tasting while smaller intimate events allow for deeper and more informative discussions. David Smith and Brown-Forman Canada remind you to enjoy their products responsibly with friends and family. Cheers!

André Girard
Co-president of the Québec Scotch Whisky Club

Reconnus comme étant un des rares experts en whisky au Québec, ses conférences sur le whisky rejoignent des milliers de personnes à chaque année.  De plus, André était depuis six ans le seul juge québécois des fameux Canadian Whiskies Awards en plus d'avoir été juge pour la Sélection mondiale des Spiritueux du Canada (Canada International Spirit Championship) en 2013 & 2014.  André anime également des chroniques portant sur les whiskys sur les ondes de CHOI 98.1FM Québec.

En plus des nombreuses conférences qu’il donne sur le sujet, il a cofondé en 2008 le Club de Scotch Whisky de Québec (dont il est toujours co-président) qui est le premier et le plus grand Club dédié au whisky au Québec.  Le portail web du Club, www.quebecwhisky.com, est d’ailleurs la référence francophone du whisky, avec près de 600,000 visiteurs par année et compte tout près de 3000 évaluations de whiskys!

Les conférences d'André ont la réputation d'être instructive et ludique, mais surtout relax et très conviviales. On y apprend donc tout en ayant un maximum de plaisir!

Facebook : « Vous pouvez suivre André sur sa page The Middle Cut - Évaluations whisky »

Barry & Barry (Stein and Bernstein)
Owners- Stillwaters Distillery

With a friendship rooted in their love of whisky, Barry Stein and Barry Bernstein established Ontario's first micro-distillery, beginning production in March, 2009. True pioneers of the micro-distilling movement in the province, Barry and Barry have honed their skills as craftsman to create a range of spirits, with their flagship Stalk & Barrel whiskies leading the way. They are involved in every aspect of running the distillery and personally oversee each and every batch of spirits produced.

Emmett Hossack

Emmett Hossack has been an avid whisky enthusiast since 2002. He is a member of four whisky clubs in Ottawa, the Companions of the Quaich in Vancouver as well as the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh. Emmett has tasted and scored over 3,000 whiskies and attends whisky festivals in Scotland and Canada every year.

The NAV Centre has a personal piece of history for Emmett. In 1988 he was Director General of Training, responsible for the Transport Canada Training Institute in Cornwall as well as the Coast Guard College in Sydney Nova Scotia. Emmett`s Master class will be held in his old office from 30 years ago.

Andrew Ferguson
(AKA the Scotch Guy) Owner Kensington Wine Market

After 13 years working for KWM, first as a delivery driver and then as the store’s resident Scotch and whisky expert I purchased the business April 1 2015. In my time here I helped put KWM on the international map as one of the World’s top whisky shops. In March of 2015 Whisky Magazine awarded us “Highly Commended” or 2nd place for “Whisky Retailer of the Year – Single Outlet”. I’ve also built a reputation as one of Canada's most trusted whisky experts. On April 11th, 2011 I was inducted into the Keepers of the Quaich, the first Canadian retail expert to be so honored. I have my own whisky tour company, www.fergusonwhiskytours.com. I am also the President of a Calgary whisky club, The Companions of the Quaich, Calgary Chapter.

Best whisky experience: Sampling the White Bowmore 1964 ($4300) in the No.1 Vaults at the Bowmore Distillery on the Isle of Islay. The No. 1 Vaults are located below sea level along the shore of Loch Indaal, and are prone to flooding. More than 200 years of accumulated whisky fungus and salt stains give this earthen-floored warehouse the feel of catacombs, and when combined with the scent of maturing whisky casks, many over 40 years of age the atmosphere is spiritually intense. The No. 1 Vaults at Bowmore are possibly the most holy place in the world of whisky. And to have sampled the White Bowmore there was the experience of a lifetime!

Joshua Beach
Master Distiller Wayne Gretzky Distillery

Josh has long been a lover of spirits, and after university he decided to pursue his passion.

He studied at Heriot Watt in Scotland where he completed his MSc in Brewing and Distilling at one of the best schools in the world. He then gained experience with brewing and distilling in Europe before returning to Canada to start a distillery in Vancouver with a partner.

Ontario is home to him though. In Josh’s words, “now that I am back I couldn’t imagine a better place to be than at the Wayne Gretzky Distillery, making Canadian whisky that proudly bares the name of a true Canadian icon.”