The Global Whiskies and Spirits Summit 26 March 2020

Our next spirits summit takes place on 26 March 2020. Register now!

The Honourable Artillery Company, City Road, London
Damian Riley

Damian Riley-Smith

Managing Director
Paragraph Publishing

On joining the Heseltine family business, Haymarket, in 1990, he was responsible for a team of 50, with six magazines and numerous events, two of the publications and the largest event were in the drinks sector.

In 1997 Damian left to establish Paragraph Publishing as an international media business specialising in drinks, travel and food. Whisky Magazine launched in 1998, Scotland Magazine in 2002, and Whisky Live started in Tokyo in 2000. The Whiskies & Spirits Conference came to life in 2006 and is now held in London, New York and New Delhi. Scotland’s Best and Ireland’s Best were launched in 2017, along with Gin Magazine in November of that year, followed in May 2018 with American Whiskey Magazine. With 12 web sites, 21 licensees around the world, and awards including Icons of Whisky, Icons of Gin, the World Whiskies Awards, World Beer Awards and World Drinks Awards, Paragraph heads towards its 23rd anniversary in September 2020.

He is a Master of the Keepers of the Quaich, Rectifier of the Gin Guild and Steward of the Worshipful Company of Distillers.

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Joe Bates

Gin Magazine / Travelux / Whisky Magazine

Joe Bates has been writing about the duty-free business as a freelance journalist for nearly two decades. He’s a regular contributor to industry titles, including; Whisky Magazine, Gin Magazine and more recently Travelux. Bates specialises in the spirits sector and has acted as lead judge on a number of travel retail awards.

Steve Beal

Steve Beale

International Whisky Expert

One of the most respected whisk(e)y experts in the world, Steve Beal was the senior brand educator for the whisky portfolio of Diageo North America for over 15 years. He has served since 2000 as an international spirits judge, broadcast presenter, spirits journalist and as a master accreditation educator with the United States Bartenders Guild. In 2015, he was inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame together with Bill Samuels (Makers Mark) and Al Young (Four Roses). He was also recognised by the Scotch whisky industry in 2010 when he was inducted as a life member into the Keepers of the Quaich. In 2016 he received the US Bartenders Guild Life Membership Achievement Award at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.

Since retiring from Diageo in February 2015, he has actively continued to serve the distilled spirits industry as a consultant, mentor and blender.

He has judged international spirits competitions for nearly 20 years including:  the San Francisco World Spirits Competition since its founding; The International Wine and Spirits Competition as a Chairing Judge; the American Distilling Institute; the American Craft Spirits Association; the Las Vegas Global Spirits Awards; the World Whisky Awards by Whisky Magazine and as US Chair for American Whiskies; the annual Ambrosia Magazine IndSpirit Awards , Mumbai; the Michelangelo Wine & Spirits Awards, Cape Town; the Australian Spirits Awards, Sidney.  He has also judged regionally for Diageo World Class.


Christopher Coates

Publisher and Editor
Travelux, Scotch Whisky Magazine & Rum Magazine

Possessing a long-standing passion for whisky, Christopher Coates has worked for global drinks media company Paragraph Ltd since 2013. In 2016, he was appointed as Scotch Whisky Editor for Whisky Magazine and Managing Editor of the travel and history publication Scotland Magazine. In 2018, he joined Paragraph's leadership team and in 2019 was named as Publisher and Managing Editor of Travelux, Scotch Whisky Magazine, and Rum Magazine. He has been a member of the judging panel for the World Whiskies Awards, for which he now chairs the Scotch judging panel, and Independent Bottlers Challenge for the past four years. A keen amateur photographer, Christopher has built up one of the industry’s most comprehensive portfolios of Scotch whisky distillery images, though he also has a passion for landscape and wildlife photography.


David T. Smith

Independent Spirits Consultant

David T. Smith is an independent spirits consultant who’s been working in the industry for over a decade. He has consulted on gin projects across six continents and written numerous books on the subject of gin, including ‘The Craft of Gin’, ‘Gin Tonica’, ‘The Gin Dictionary’ and, most recently, ‘The Craft Gin Guide’. He is also a regular contributor to Gin Magazine.

David also regularly speaks at a number of international conferences, including: The Gin Guild’s Ginposium, the American Distilling Institute’s annual conference, and the London Craft Distilling Expo.


Rob Allanson

Editor-At-Large, Whisky Magazine

Editor-at-Large of Whisky Magazine and chairman of the World Whiskies Awards, Rob has been involved with Whisky Magazine since 2005. He had a three year role as ambassador at William Grant & Sons which honed his presentation skills and blending expertise, helping him bring the whisky industry to life by creating moments and stories that readers and drinkers alike will never forget. Through the written and spoken word, Rob has the knack of conveying to a wider audience the passion and expertise of those who create whisky. As well as being in tune with the sector and all its players, he is adept at explaining the more difficult aspects of the industry and its processes in layman’s terms to newcomers to the liquid. His editorship of Whisky Magazine has seen a consolidation of the title’s mission to “celebrate the whiskies of the world”. As the industry welcomes increasingly younger consumers, Rob has gently adapted the tone of the magazine to reflect this change, so helping to create more consumer-ambassadors around the world.

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Ashley Barnes

Master Blender, The Spirits Group

As the Co-Founder and Master Blender for The Spirits Group, a spirits and craft distillery focused consulting company, Ashley specializes in warehouse profiling, flavour projections, blending, R & D, profile sustainability, and quality control. Beginning her career in the spirits industry in 2012, Ashley cut her teeth at Buffalo Trace Distillery where she was able to experience the various aspects of liquid quality, blending and production. In 2014 Ashley accepted a quality management role at Four Roses Distillery where she was able to work alongside several industry legends. It was during this time that she was able to truly develop a sophisticated palate for whiskey throughout all phases of production. Ashley serves as a judge at the American Distilling Institute and American Craft Spirits Association spirits competitions, using her knowledge and experience to critique and provide educational feedback to craft distillers.

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Anthony Coppers

Founder and Head of Innovation, Gradient

Anthony Coppers is the Founder and Head of Innovation at Gradient, a creative agency with experiential marketing at its core. Anthony founded Gradient in 2010, after already founding and operating multiple businesses beforehand which all focused on creating experiences that are powerful, market-defining and engaging but especially Gradient. As Head of Innovation, Anthony facilitates Gradient’s key approach for all its clients: humanising brands and bringing brands to life using a holistic approach. Anthony has worked with premium spirits brands including Beam Suntory and Avión.

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Oskar Ericsson

CEO & Master Distiller, Brunnur Distillery

Óskar Ericsson is the CEO and Master Distiller of Brunnur Distillery, an Icelandic distillery that produces the award-winning Himbrimi Gin. Born in 1979 in The Hague to a Dutch father and Icelandic mother, Óskar grew up in the northern low-lands of Holland but moved to Iceland in the early nineties. He holds a Bachelor´s degree in Media Art and a Master´s degree in Culture and Communication, and has a passion for storytelling and experience design. In 2013, Óskar created Himbrimi Gin, which was originally intended for private consumption to take with him on fishing trips in the Icelandic wilderness. A few years later, he produced the first batch of Himbrimi Gin that soon became a favourite tipple of Icelandic locals. Currently, Himbrimi Gin is distributed in the USA and Europe, and is served in some of the most prestigious cocktail bars in London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Milano, and New York. In 2019, Himbrimi Old Tom Gin was awarded World´s Best Gin at the World Gin Award in the category of compound gin.

Óskar Ericsson currently resides in Reykjavik, Iceland with his wife and two daughters. When he is not distilling fine spirits or managing his company, he is most likely to be found at home, baking bread or somewhere in the wilderness of Iceland, foraging for wild herbs or fishing for trout.


Paul Farmer

Managing Director, Wade Ceramics

Paul Farmer OBE, has been the Managing Director of Wade Ceramics since 2001, after joining the firm as Financial Director in 1995. Prior to this, Paul’s background was in accountancy at a high-level working in different industries including aerospace.

From 2001 to 2009, Paul took Wade on a journey which saw the company open up it’s new high-tech facility near to Festival Park. His drive and initiative has created new markets for the company, which is now recognised globally as a leader in the design and production of high quality ceramic products.

In addition to his business success, Paul has also been very active locally giving his time and commitment to a number of charities including Mind, the Donna Louise Trust and North Staffordshire Carers’ Association to name but a few. He also sits on the board of a number of organisations to steer industry forward and create opportunities and growth within the area, including Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, of which he has recently stepped down as the President, and Stoke and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Paul is quite a formidable character and is proud to be a Stokie! When he finally does have time to relax, his hobbies include spending time with his family, sport and cooking … Rumour has it he is a dab hand at making Oatcakes, using his very own recipe!

Kat Geborys

Kat Geborys

Creative Marketing Manager, Elephant Gin

Kat Geborys is a Creative Marketing Manager at Elephant Gin. Before joining this growing brand in Berlin, she spent a decade working in hospitality and spirits industry across the UK and Australia. Leading brand's growth on global and local level through strategic planning, commercial innovation & sustainability drive, she’s spent last 3 years at Elephant Gin helping move the brand towards even more planet and people friendly practices, for which Elephant Gin has been awarded a Spirits Business Ethical Award and a Butterfly Mark by Positive Luxury.

Not only the brand dedicates 15% of profits to the endangered African elephant cause, but has continuously been striving for all-round sustainable excellence reflected in all facets of the company; from waste reduction and innovative recycling initiatives to smarter bar initiatives as well as furthering education and providing work opportunities in wildlife conservation.


Allisa Henley

Distiller, Sazerac of Tennessee

Allisa is a born and raised Tennessean with a passion for all things whiskey.  She is especially passionate about Tennessee Whiskey and Bourbon.  She has worked in the spirits industry for over 15 years.  During this time, she has worn many hats including brand marketing, ambassador, educator, and distillery & warehouse operations.  She was the first Diageo operations person recognised as a Master of Whiskey. Through her hard work and dedication, she became the Distiller of George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey.

In 2016, she started working for Sazerac of Tennessee as Distiller.  She will be an integral part of developing a new Tennessee Whiskey and other fine Tennessee spirits for this new distillery.

She travels the country sharing her industry experiences and knowledge.  She can uniquely discuss the business from the distillery and maturing operations side as well as from the marketing and customer perspective.  She continues to share her experiences in tastings, seminars, representing women in whiskey and by hands on education in a distillery setting.

Allisa has a B.A in Business Administration from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and M.B.A. from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.

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Christopher Hayman

Master Distiller of Hayman’s Gin

Christopher Hayman is fourth generation Master Distiller of Hayman’s Gin and works with his children, James and Miranda.  The hands-on approach he developed throughout his five decades’ working in English Gin has never left him. Today you will still find Christopher involved in many tasks both in and outside the distillery.

Christopher’s career in Gin started in 1969, when he entered the gin trade by joining his family Company, James Burrough. Christopher worked his way up to Director of Operations and New Product Development in 1977. When the business was sold in 1987, Christopher took the opportunity to buy back part of it – renaming it Hayman Distillers and starting a process that would see him realise his ambition to bring back the classically balanced styles of English Gin pioneered by his great-grandfather.

Christopher’s tireless work ethic and enthusiasm for Gin over the years have seen him play an increasingly important role within the broader Spirits industry. He helped initiate Wine and Spirit Education Trust separate spirit course.  He was also a Trustee of the WSET.  Christopher co-founded and chairs the Gin Guild (he was also the first Grand Rectifier of the Board) and was on the council of the Gin and Vodka Trade Association (which continues today as the spirits committee of the WSTA).  He also sits on the advisory board of the International Centre for Distilling and Brewing at Herriot Watt University.


Ibrahim Ibrahim

Managing Director, Portland Design

Ibrahim is the Managing Director of Portland Design. Based in London and established in 1987, Portland is part of the global Perkins + Will architecture and design network.

Portland is a leading strategic branding and retail design business and works on a broad range of projects including retail, F&B, consumer brands, shopping centres, airports, train stations, mixed use developments and urban regeneration

Portland’s understanding of consumers’ relationship with brands and their engagement with branded physical and digital environments lies at the heart of their work. This understanding is built through research and insights that drive future customer expectations. Portland places great emphasis on ‘future readiness’.

Ibrahim originally trained as an aeronautical engineer and is a post graduate of the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is a regular speaker at conferences and a frequent contributor to journals and trade press. He has written regular pieces for The Economist ‘Insights’.

Clients he has worked with include:
AIRPORTS - Heathrow, Schiphol, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, JFK, Newark, Vienna, Oslo, Munich, Hamburg, Stavanga, Bergen, Keflavic, Turin,
RAIL – WMATA (DC), TfL (London), SBB (Switzerland), HS1 & HS2 (UK), MTA (NY), Grand Stazione (Italy)
RETAILERS – Dufry, Wolford, Selfridges, Harrods, Luxottica, Travelex, Arcadia, Coach, Lagardare, Sweaty Betty,
F&B - SSP, HMS Host, Pink Fish, Caviar House,
CONSUMER BRANDS - Nestle, Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Lindt, CNN, Mondelez, Cross Pens, Edrington
SHOPPING CENTRES: Westfield, Hammerson, British Land, Inter Ikea, ECE, Corio, Hammerson, L&G
DEVELOPERS: 3W, Coima, Mubadala, Nakheel, TDIC, Crosstree, KAFD, MAF,

Ibrahim has two children and when he is not overseeing the ‘ideas fuelled’ environment at Portland he is normally with his family, mountain biking, making furniture, fiddling with classic cars or managing a woodland whilst riding his tractor!

Alice Lascelles blue (cr Wallace Wainhouse)

Alice Lascelles

Financial Times Drinks Columnist

Alice Lascelles is an award-winning drinks journalist, author and presenter. She writes about wine, spirits and bar culture for Financial Times and can often be found talking about drinks and leading tastings at live events and on Radio 4. Her articles and columns have appeared in The Times and Sunday Times Prospect, Monocle,, Noble Rot, The Telegraph, Evening Standard, Vice and many specialist and trade titles including Gin Magazine, Spirits Business and Imbibe, which she co-founded in 2007. She is also the author of Ten Cocktails, a spirited guide to cocktail culture. Her accolades include Fortnum & Mason Drinks Writer of the Year 2019 and IWSC Spirits Communicator of the Year 2016. She is also proud to be a Keeper of the Quaich.


Ian Lloyd_H&S

Ian Lloyd

V.P. Global Product & Category Management
Westrock’s Multi Packaging Solutions

Based at Thatcham, UK, Ian has responsibility for the global marketing team of WestRock’s Multi Packaging Solutions focused upon key markets including premium drinks, beauty & personal care and healthcare. This team provides market insights and support to the group’s sales and senior teams. Ian has responsibility to ensure MPS has a consistent approach and presents a clear proposition to its customers. Ian has over 20 years’ experience in the packaging sector having held senior account management and operational roles including leading factory management teams. A Metallurgy graduate by training, Ian has worked for over 30 years in the manufacturing sector following an early career in the steel industry.

Ian has been with the company for 22 years and has a thorough understanding of the business. Ian’s experience covers all paperboard packaging formats including cartons, labels, and leaflets and his role involves a close working relationship with customers. Ian often presents to the world’s leading companies and has an in-depth knowledge of the changing packaging and technical requirements of this dynamic sector.

In his spare time, Ian enjoys live music, travel, cooking and time with his family and friends.


Angus Lugsdin

Co-Founder, Salcombe Distilling Co

Angus developed the idea for a distillery in Salcombe having witnessed first-hand the burgeoning small-scale distilling industry in the USA, when living in New York. As the craft distilling industry expanded in the UK, Angus recognised the potential for a distillery in Salcombe that builds on the town’s renowned reputation as a haven for affluent consumers who seek the finer things in life and as the perfect location from which to build a luxury drinks brand.

With a keen eye for detail and a passion for seeing an idea through from inception to fruition, Angus, along with childhood friend Howard Davies, formed Salcombe Distilling Company in Summer 2014. Immersing himself in the art of distillation, Angus spent short stints at the iconic Springbank and later Kilchoman distilleries, to learn as much as possible about this ancient art, transitioning what he learnt about distilling whisky over to gin. Over the course of the next two years Angus & Howard developed the recipe for and launched their multi-award winning Salcombe Gin ‘Start Point’, whilst also building a new waterside distillery in Salcombe, one of the only distilleries in the world that is directly accessible by boat.

Mark Meek, IWSR Headshot WEBSITE

Mark Meek


As CEO, Mark is firmly setting the IWSR as the world’s most-trusted data and insights company for the global drinks industry. Mark is recognised as a thought leader and frequently speaks at industry events, such as the World Spirits Conference and Vinexpo, and at investor conferences.

Mark has over 20 years’ experience working for world-class organisations, having worked at The Guardian and Independent newspapers in various commercial and editorial roles, as well as at Datamonitor and Progressive Digital Media (owners of Canadean) as CEO.

Felicity Murray

Felicity Murray

Spirits, design and editorial consultant

Felicity began her career as a fashion designer before turning journalist. For nearly 20 years she edited fashion, beauty and home-style pages for national newspapers and magazines, including the Daily Mail and TVTimes. She also edited a number specialist women interest consumer titles. She entered business magazines in 1990 and has edited journals for industries as diverse as printing, travel retail, home furnishings, packaging and wines and spirits. She was editor of Packaging News for nearly 10 years during which time the British Society of Magazine Editors awarded her the prestigious title of Business Magazine Editor of the Year. In 2006 she became editor of Drinks International, and then in 2009 launched her own publication – a global on-line magazine and e-newsletter for the wine and spirits trade with a special focus on packaging. Now owned by Paragraph Publishing, Felicity continued to act as editor and help develop the World Drinks Awards and World Spirits Conference. She retired in March 2018 but remains Chair of the World Drinks Design Awards, and is a spirits taste and design judge/writer. Felicity is an honorary member of the International Packaging Press Organisation, for which she once acted as general secretary, and then treasurer.

Jota Mt. Fuji

Jota Tanaka

Executive Fellow & Master Blender, Kirin Mt. Fuji Distillery

Jota Tanaka has worked in the drinks industry and for Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. for 30 years+, where he leads in various aspects of Kirin’s whisky business.

Over the course of his career at Kirin in Japan and the U.S.A., he has acquired extensive knowledge and expertise in whisky, wine, and other alcohol beverages by working in various parts of the value chain and academia.

One year after he joined KIRIN Brewery in 1988, he started his career in winemaking in Napa Valley, California. He then earned the second MSc degree in Food Science specialized in Enology from the University of California at Davis. He moved back to Japan in 1995 and was assigned roles of wine quality assurance and product development at the Fuji-Gotemba plant of Kirin-Seagram. He then moved onto a wine marketing role, representing several wine brands of Kirin-Seagram, including Sandeman Sherry & Port. After serving as those brands' manager for 3 years, he then stepped into whisky making and then becoming blender.

In 2002, when Four Roses Distillery became a sister distillery of the Fuji-Gotemba, he was assigned to transfer various functions from Seagram Operations and integrate them into Four Roses Distillery LLC. After working at Four Roses Distillery in Kentucky as director of quality for seven years, he returned to Japan in 2009, and was appointed Chief Blender for Kirin Fuji-Gotemba Distillery in 2010. He was then appointed Master Blender of Kirin whisky in 2017, only the second person to hold that post in 50 years of history. He has earned the prestigious Master Distiller / Master Blender of the year in 2017 at the Icons of Whisky and was recognized by the Bourbon whiskey industry in 2019 when he was inducted to the prestigious Order of the Writ – Spirit of Kentucky Bourbon society’s inaugural class of members. He was appointed as executive fellow in 2019, and puts his endeavours in to promoting Kirin whisky to the world.

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