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 with 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.
Brand Ambassador—Canadian Club
Trish 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 Trish 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.
Trish takes great pride in sharing Canadian Club’s historical facts with key sales people, distributors and the general public.
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.
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.
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.
Brand Ambassador—Gordon & MacPhail
Born in Scotland, he is the Whisky Ambassador for Benromach and Gordon & MacPhail. Gordon & MacPhail are renowned for selecting, maturing, and bottling some of the world’s finest and rarest single malt Scotch whiskies. Bill is proud to own one of the oldest bottle of whisky in the world. For fun he studied Anthropology at the University of Trent, received a diploma from Anniesland College in Mechanics, is an ordained minister (just in case a friend needs to get married quickly), a Project Management Professional, and member of the PMI Highland chapter in Whitby. In his sordid past, Bill has also been an hotelier in Scotland, a restaurateur in Toronto, a reporter to the Licensed Trade Association, owner and editor of the Claymore Times, a stuntman in the film industry, and owner of several businesses. Today he is a valued member of society, married for 26 years and father to identical twin boys, board advisor to the Durham College and a volunteer at Habitat for humanity; he is, for all intents and purposes, the penultimate “international man of mystery”.
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 the 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."
Territory Manager at PMA Canada
David Smith represents the Brown-Forman portfolio of products in Eastern Ontario, including Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Woodford 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!
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.
(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, Andrew purchased the business April 2015. In his time there, he helped put KWM on the international map as one of the world’s top whisky shops. In March of 2015 Whisky Magazine awarded them “Highly Commended” or 2nd place for “Whisky Retailer of the Year— Single Outlet”. He's also built a reputation as one of Canada’s most trusted whisky experts. On April 11th, 2011 he was inducted into the Keepers of the Quaich, the first Canadian retail expert to be so honoured. He has his own whisky tour company, www.fergusonwhiskytours.com. He is also the President of a Calgary whisky club, The Companions of the Quaich, Calgary Chapter.
Best whisky experience: Sampling the White Bowmore 1964 ($4,300) 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!
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 bears the name of a true Canadian icon.”
UK Scotch Malt Whisky Society Ambassador
SMWS Ambassador in the South of England and London, occasionally beyond. Enjoys all whiskies, but partial to Scotch Malts and of course single cask malts.
Rob and Kelly Carpenter
Co-founder’s, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canada
The world’s largest selection of single cask, single malt whiskies is available in Canada — straight from the cask, to the bottle, to you. Unfiltered. Undiluted. Unrivalled.
Capturing rarity and perfection in a glass, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s single malt whisky attracts curious and discerning whisky lovers from all corners of the globe.
Only ever bottled from a single cask and selected from a range of over 135 whisky distilleries every Society bottling is exceptional. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a group unlike any other. As well as being a place to connect with other like-minded whisky lovers, they are also internationally renowned for their mission.
Brand Ambassador— Glenfiddich
Over the past 14 years Elizabeth Havers has immersed herself in the world of whisky. Today, she champions trade and consumer education and advocacy for all William Grant & Sons Whisky products throughout Canada. Until recently, Elizabeth was the sole female single malt whisky ambassador in Canada, and one of very few in the world.
Beth first fell in love with whisky while living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Since then she has spent the past 14 years working in the Beverage Alcohol Industry, increasing her knowledge and passion in all things whisky. Beth has spent time working in Dufftown, at the William Grant & Sons distilleries.
Prior to joining the William Grant & Sons team, Beth most recently held sales, marketing and brand specialist positions at Diageo. She is a graduate of The University of Guelph and has completed her Wine and Spirits Education through The International Sommelier Guild. Most recently, Elizabeth Havers was honoured with the Icon of Whisky Rest of World 2016 Scotch Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year Award in Whisky Magazine.
Brand Ambassador—The Balvenie
Jamie’s love of whisky began many years ago when she made an impulsive visit to a distillery in Kentucky in the middle of a road trip. She’s been enchanted ever since.
In 2014 she began offering casual, fun, and approachable whisky tastings in her home. The tastings were so popular, she was forced to expand beyond her Toronto living room — and she began partnering with some of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants to host monthly tastings. Her whisky club, Bourbon Thing, continued to grow rapidly and provide a space for whisky aficionados and neophytes alike to enjoy a dram, a laugh and some whisky education together.
Jamie is also co-host of a popular weekly whisky podcast, The Whisky Topic with whisky author Mark Bylok.
Jamie joined The Balvenie family as Canadian Brand Ambassador in January of 2017.
You can find her tweeting and instagramming at @bourbonthing.
National Brand Ambassador for Ardbeg & Glenmorangie
Bryan Simpson has been a part of the Scotch Whisky community for over a decade, both in his native Scotland and his new home of Canada. Born in Glasgow, but now living in Toronto, he has ignited thousands of Canadians’ passion for Single Malt before being appointed Canadian Brand Ambassador for Ardbeg and Glenmorangie.
Back in Scotland, Bryan combined his love for the Highlands with his whisky tasting zeal and formed a whisky club that experienced Scotch in the heart of Scotland’s wilds. His well-honed palate was developed pairing whisky drinkers with their perfect dram where he gained a reputation of hosting engaging presentations to both those new to Scotch and experienced malt enthusiasts.
Bryan’s obsession with Ardbeg and Glenmorangie is not just what’s in the glass, but the history of both brands and how it ties to Scotch Whisky as a whole. His interest in the scientific aspects of Scotch making is clear, but just as important to him is the social world that exists around his favourite drink and how it brings people together.
Distilleries Manager — Bunnahabain, Deanston and Tobermory.
He started his career in chemistry, managing chemical plants creating coloured pigments for the paints, inks and plastic industries. But his parents worked in the drinks industry — his father owned a pub and mother worked for Allied Distillers — so maybe it’s not surprising that he ended up there too.
He joined Diageo in 2009 as the business leader responsible for pre-distillation. It’s a chemical process after all, just like any other. But a last-minute change of plan saw him take on the management of Dundashill Cooperage in Glasgow instead.
Coopering is definitely not a chemical process. Some of the coopers on site had spent nine years building their craft. So Stephen had a lot to learn, while simultaneously taking his General Certificate in Distillation. It wasn’t until the Dundashill site (sadly) closed in 2010 that he had the chance to put that knowledge into practice. He moved to Speyside to take charge of the multi-million-pound upgrade and commissioning of Inchgower Distillery in Buckie. That gave him quite an insight into the heart of distillery operations. After that he worked in seven different Speyside distilleries, learning more about predistillation and distillation processes with each move. In a bid to understand this further from a more academic perspective he completed the IBD Diploma in Distilling, and in June 2016 Stephen joined Distell as Distilleries Manager.
“My job is to use my management and technical skills to bring new thinking to whisky making. At the same time, I respect the centuries-old traditional techniques that create the brands we’re famous for. My role is to protect those traditions, while working to refine and improve our processes, so we can keep creating the finest whiskies in the world.”
Beam Suntory Bourbon Ambassador
Ray Daniel brings with him nearly two decades of experience behind the bar, from Europe to North American where he is currently the Beam Suntory Bourbon Ambassador to Canada.
Hailing from Ireland, he has a huge and broad range of knowledge of whiskey, and the bourbon category in particular. With a long background in competitive bartending, Ray’s escapades have landed him in competitions and as a guest speaker and lecturer throughout Canada, Mexico and the USA, as well as appearing in publications such as Whisky Magazine and The New York Times.
Jam-packed with passion, humour and a massive respect for the history of Whiskey, Ray's presentations have become a much sought-after affair.
Certified Specialist of Spirits, National Premium Whisk(e)y Ambassador — Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Collingwood
In July 2015 Taylor began working as the Jack Daniel’s Brand Ambassador for Ontario and has since assumed the role of National Premium Whisk(e)y Ambassador, he is regularly seen and heard spreading the gospel of Brown-Forman Whisk(e)y across the country. Corrigan is thrilled to be part of such an incredible group, building on what is an already rich and iconic history of whisk(e)y and spirits brands with the Brown-Forman Canada team.
Canadian Whisky Ambassador at Corby Spirit and Wine Limited
Spencer is a seventh generation direct descendent of the Gooderham family who started Canada’s first whisky distillery back in 1832. Spencer is blessed to have the opportunity to continue on the whisky legacy.
Rob, Laura and Nathan Bradley
Owners Kings Lock Distillery
We pride ourselves on creating the small pleasures in life, that is why our PHILOSOPHY is “Live life in small batches”.
Our CONCEPT was to build a business based on producing spirits that had a minimal environmental impact.
Our LOCATION — which is located in the historical town of Johnstown, was chosen due to the areas tales of the legendary St. Lawrence River. Our SPIRITS — We handcraft all our spirits with care using local and organic ingredients. Our distillers use a process and technique which enhances our spirits with the unique balance and essence of our fine flavours.
Partner to the Show. Mentor, friend and local whisky legend
Frank was late coming into the Whisky World. He entered as a mature adult — in his world, mature = middle age.
He is presently the Convenor of the Cornwall Chapter of The Companions of The Quaich, which has bi-monthly tasting events along with some special themed tastings during the year. Individuals are able to taste whiskies and determine their preferred whisky flavors and associate them with a specific whisky social event. Introducing individuals to the enjoyable experience of various whiskies has become a most enjoyable pastime for Frank. The Companions chapter believe whisky tastings should be 80% social and 20% education.
Frank is a major player along with Benromach in the Scotch Tastings at the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville Ontario. The tastings have become a highlight of the Games weekend. During the Mid Winter Celtic Festival in Philadelphia, he has carried out tastings in which Irish whiskey was paired with Irish produced cheese from Kerrygold Inc.
President & Founder of the Companions of the Quaich
Ed Patrick is a veteran journalist and communicator with a 40-year career in daily and weekly newspapers and business publications in Scotland, England and Canada. He is the only Life Member of the Toronto Press & Media Club and the club’s longest-serving President.
In 2000, he founded The Companions of The Quaich, Canada’s premier malt whisky appreciation society with over 1,000 members in 20 chapters in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. He collaborated on a 60-minute documentary on one of the Companions’ tours of Scotland, entitled The Whisky Trail, for the CTV network.
He is a regular speaker and contributor on whisky to magazines, newspapers, radio and TV; a Master Class presenter at the Victoria Whisky Festival and exhibitor at whisky shows in Canada. He regularly leads groups of Canadian whisky enthusiasts on special tours of distilleries in Scotland.
Born a mere 500 metres from Pulteney Distillery not so long ago, it is no surprise that Gordon ended up in the whisky industry. He started at Pulteney as a mashman in 1988 and took the traditional route, progressing to Stillman, Under Brewer and then Brewer. In 1994 he ventured south for the first time and got as far as Balblair Distillery, where he took up the role of Brewer. He was here until 2006 when he moved to Knockdhu to become Distillery Manager. Gordon has completed both his IBD General Certificate and Diploma in Distilling. Despite swearing never to sit another exam, he enrolled for the IBD Master Distiller programme in 2017. Now part way through a five-year plan, he has vowed that once complete he will definitely never sit an exam again!
Gordon is a Keeper of the Quaich and has been runner-up in the Icons of Whisky awards ‘Distillery Manager of the Year’ two years’ running. Married to Vivian for 33 years, he has 3 kids and 4 dogs. His youngest daughter, Morven, is currently at University in Aberdeen where in his words she is ‘socialising her way through fathers’ pension fund’. His middle child, Kelsey, has followed in her father’s footsteps in to the Whisky world and is currently Assistant Manager at Dalmunach, Scapa and Aberlour Distilleries. Lastly, his eldest, Mark, travels the world as part of a band, the Elephant Sessions, and will actually visit Canada later this year.
In Gordon’s words, ‘as the 21st century is over rated, as indeed were large parts of the 20th century’, he takes a traditional approach to both life and distilling. However, for anyone who has visited Knockdhu, you will know that Gordon is not averse to introducing innovations to the Distillery. He is very proud to work alongside what he describes as ‘the best Distillery team in the world’.
Often asked ‘Have you worked all your life in Distilleries?’ – Gordon simply replies, ‘no, not yet.’
After having a long distinguished career in public service, David finally retired as a firefighter in Arizona and left for Italy to pursue his passion for cooking. After finishing culinary school in southern Italy, he went on to work at the Michelin starred restaurant Il Buco in Sorrento, Italy under Chef Giuseppe Aversa and at the 2 Michelin starred Don Alfonso 1890. While in Europe he also worked in London with Chef Giorgio Locatelli at his restaurant Locanda Locatelli and with Chef Mikeal Jonssen at Hedone; both are 1 Michelin star rated. David also spent time in Paris, France studying pastries at Ecole La Nortre. Chef David's other passion is helping those less fortunate. He runs a charity that provides food support to Arizona's Fallen Heroes in law enforcement and the fire service as well as providing meals for the homeless at local parks, on the streets, and church weekly.
As an experienced Corporate Executive Chef with expertise in high-end, large volume catering, Chef Lee’s most recent successful project was as the Executive Chef of the Toronto Pan-am Games. He designed, planned, and executed all food and beverage components serving 465,000 meals in seven weeks. Excellent food quality was maintained and budget was met. While performing his corporate role, he had been leading the food service for the Sony Centre on Front Street for five years which included catering the high-profile Canadian Screen Awards. As the regional corporate chef, he has also had the privilege of supporting the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as Executive Sous Chef and in the same role at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler.
Through his career, Chef Lee enjoyed roles as an Executive Chef across the diverse field of food service including multiple hotel chains, a university, and—currently—corporate catering. He has developed and supported apprentice programs growing future talent and culinary leaders. Maintaining professional development opportunities is also a passion of his, leading him to develop a corporate-wide chefs association for networking, learning, and skill development. His career choices over the past years have afforded him the opportunity to work with some amazing Chefs in Canada and England. He’s had experience interacting with the media and enjoys the connection to the guests during events. Seeing happy clients—there is no better reward for the long hours and dedication that is required of his profession.
After starting in 1991 with United Distillers in Perth, in the summer of 1993 Gary moved down to Leven in Fife, and from 1993 to 2010 had various roles there from site Project Leader to Backshift Hall Team Leader. He then had an opportunity to go up into Speyside to run Cragganmore Distillery at Ballindalloch and was there until September 2011. Gary worked at the distillery through one of the hardest winters they had ever seen. He has a photo of his car’s dashboard in Grantown-On-Spey showing –20ºC at 7am! His first project was to lease a large tractor with snowplough and salt spreader to keep the road to the distillery open—nothing will stop a distillery quicker than not being able to get materials in or out!
Unfortunately, it never quite worked out in Speyside and Gary ended up moving into the oil and gas industry where he got to see a fair bit of the world. His second home for a while was Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam! However, he was told when he left Cragganmore that he would be back in malt distilling at some point by good friend Peter Campbell. Gary dismissed it, but a few years later he found himself with an itch for malt distilling that just would not go away. In December 2016, he noticed Helen McKenzie Smith was looking for an admin person on Facebook. Gary sent her a message saying that he could not do this role but told her about his past career and sent over his CV. A few weeks later he was asked along for a chat with herself and Drew; that chat lasted 4+ hours and he knew then where he wanted to be. The rest, as they say, “is history!” and he has been the Distillery Manager ever since.