Meet The Judges – The Gin To My Tonic People’s Choice Awards
say hello to the friendly faces of our judging panel, helping us to whittle down the entries in our first ever people's choice gin awards.
About the People's Choice Gin Awards
The Gin To My Tonic are delighted to have launched our very own People’s Choice Gin Awards.
With so many different award bodies on the market, we wanted to do something a little different, something that connects the everyday gin drinker with the results of such awards, whilst offering a return on investment to the distillers that enter (and that are subsequently shortlisted) through an array of engaging initiatives including content, events, tasting and experiences over a 5-month voting period.
Of course, we couldn’t do this alone and we are delighted to have convened a group of judges (and friends) who will help as whittle down the entries into mighty shortlists. Each bring something a little different to the table, which will make the judging all the more interesting as we seek out craftsmanship, talent and inspiring blends.
Em & Paul (Co-founders, The Gin To My Tonic)
The Gin To My Tonic is the brainchild of best friends and fellow gin enthusiasts Emira Shepherd and Paul Hudson-Jones.
Starting life as a humble Instagram gin blog way back in 2017, The Gin To My Tonic was created as a way to immerse themselves in a real passion, Craft Gin & Distilling. They’ve recommended gins, shared perfect serves and created cocktail masterpieces along the way, however neither of them could have foreseen the gin filled journey ahead….
Today, The Gin To My Tonic is one of the largest gin communities in the UK, with award-winning events including The Gin To My Tonic Meet-the-Maker Shows, Gin Festivals and Tastings to our name. Now, with the People’s Choice Gin Awards well underway, who knows what will happen next?!
Emma Stokes (Gin Monkey)
Emma Stokes, aka Gin Monkey, is a widely respected expert on the subject of white spirits and was named Icons of Gin Communicator of the Year in 2022. She has written articles for global publications including BBC Good Food, Gin Magazine, Cocktail Lovers and CLASS Magazine. Her books The Periodic Table of Cocktails and Have Yourself A Merry Little Cocktail have received rave reviews, and her Gin Rummy deck of cards is surely the only way to play Gin Rummy! Emma is also the prime mover behind the biggest date in a gin lover’s diary, World Gin Day, which takes place in June.
Paul Jackson (The Gin Guide)
The Gin Guide’s Founder and Editor, Paul Jackson, is a gin expert and spirits writer, judge, speaker and consultant, with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the spirits, bar and events industries, as well as brand development and marketing. You can find Paul’s thoughts on each gin review under the ‘The Gin Guide Review’ section. Paul is also the Founder and Editor of the World Rum Guide.
You’ll find Paul hosting tastings, speaking at gin events, consulting for gin brands, distilleries and events, and developing gin offerings for bars, hotels and restaurants. You may have also seen Paul on BBC, ITV and Channel 5 and in newspapers and magazines.
Sara Jane Eichler (Negroni Club)
Sara Jane Eichler Is a spirits and drinks judge, writer and active drinks commentator specialising in Aperitifs, with over 30 years experience in hospitality and on-trade. Sara Jane was the driving force behind the The Oliver Conquest, one of the original gin bars in London that promoted and showcased the virtues of the juniper spirit long before the current gin renaissance. Sara Jane is passionate about sharing her love of spirits and cocktails with others and founded Negroni Club UK. SJ holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Wine & Spirits.
Julian Vallis (Martini Club)
Meet Julian, a spirits, bar and cocktail consultant, sharing his passion with partner @Juniper.chick (Sandra Lim), honed over more than a decade. He operates Barspoon, delivering top bar quality cocktails, Martini Club UK, a social club all about savouring Martinis and World Martini Day to celebrate this unique drink around the world. You can find Julian’s cocktails and insights on Instagram and Twitter under @julianvallis
Sandra Lim (Martini Club)
Sandra (aka Juniperchick), is the co-founder of Martini Club and co-owner of Barspoon, creators of leading bar quality cocktails. She is passionate about gin and cocktails and is an avid supporter of the hospitality industry, often seen propping up some of the best bars. When not out having a Martini, Sandra is developing cocktail recipes amalgamating ideas from her travels to create amazing flavours in drinks.
Jeremy Stephens (Spirits Consultant)
A Chemistry graduate with 25 years in a range of roles in brewing and distilling, Jeremy runs a consultancy business, providing expert advice in operations, technical, and sensory management.
Starting his career as Lab Technician and Brewery Operator with Badger and Fullers Breweries, Jeremy took his first management position as Process and Plant Manager for Bairds Malt. He managed Auchentoshan Distillery where he completed Diplomas in Brewing and Distilling before becoming Senior Blender and Spirit Quality Manager for Beam Suntory. He joined Warner’s Distillery as the first member of the leadership team to enable expansion on to multiple sites and developed their portfolio to over 30 expressions across several spirit categories to meet the exponential growth of the UK’s 6th fast-growing business. His most recent permanent role was as Production Director with Cotswolds Distillery. Jeremy is active in the industry, and particularly enjoys his involvement with The Institute of Brewing and Distilling as Lead Examiner for The Diploma and Master Distiller exams.
Oliver Morris (Mixologist & Cocktail Company Owner)
With over 20 years of experience in the drinks sector, Oliver has worked for industry leaders as the go to cocktail professional and has begun many successful private ventures.
Now, as the Managing Director of Liquid Spirit Events (@liquidspirit_events), Oliver is running multiple event companies within the Cocktail and Spirits industry. Specialising in signature serves and bespoke cocktails for multiple leading spirit companies, Oliver is passionate about all things mixology. Having spent the last two decades in the industry, he has plenty of experience in liquid innovation, research and development and cocktail creation
Josh Linfitt (bar Manager, Brand Ambassador & Mixologist)
Almost 20 years in the hospitality industry working in a huge range of venues from seasonality focussed restaurants to molecular driven Victorian gin palaces, also working as a brand ambassador for various globally renowned brands. Now shaking things up in the South West of England at the stunning restaurant and bar Ugly Butterfly by Adam Handling which is nestled into the Cornish coast line at Carbis Bay, with uninterrupted views of the Atlantic ocean and merely a 20 minute walk from St. Ives.
Andrew Brooks (Gower Gin Company)
In 2016 Andrew took Sian on a gin blending course in London and they fell in love with the idea of creating their own spirits infused with the flavours of Gower, launching their first gin in September 2017.
Since then, Gower’s striped gin bottles (with 6 expressions now in the core range) have become instantly recognisable and stand for bold flavours, foraged botanicals and a love of Wales. A self-taught distiller, Andrew loves the recipe creation process and made his first contract gin in 2018 for a local company; since then this part of the business has grown considerably.
Andrew says: “I am looking forward to working with Paul and the Gin to My Tonic Group to help launch their awards which will involve a wide range of tasters and judges. We have worked together for many years and we share a joint passion for innovation, new flavours and helping new and emerging gin companies realise their dreams.”
Rachel Sutherland (Liquid & Innovation Manager)
Rachel’s career journey started with a Master’s degree in Chemistry at Heriot Watt University. During her degree she completed a year internship at Diageo’s Science & Technical Centre where she worked on optimisation projects for Scotch Whisky. This led her to apply for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Warner’s Distillery and Nottingham University as a Flavour & Sensory Development Specialist, focusing on training a expert sensory panel and understanding botanical interactions in distillation processes. During this time, she completed a postgraduate degree in Sensory Science at Nottingham University. In 2021, she was awarded the IWSC Emerging Talent in Spirits Award which led to herbecoming a Spirits Judge across multiple product categories for both international and local award competitions. Since 2021, she has been the Liquid & Innovation Manager at Warner’s Distillery overseeing all product development and quality control of raw materials and final product.
Dominic Scullion (Content Creator)
Dominic is a passionate gin enthusiast and content creator. His journey began by hosting gin and garnish events, and he now collaborates and supports brands with signature serves and cocktails. In a time when video and reels reign supreme on social media, Dominic has carved out quite the niche for himself by creating truly beautiful and innovative content that is capturing the attention of the every-day drinker today. No doubt you will see Dominic turn his attentions towards some of our fabulous shortlisted entries (whoever they might be), and continuing his passion of sharing the unique aspects of what makes brands unique.
Scott & Oscar (The Ginfluencers UK)
Scott and Oscar are The Ginfluencers UK. They started their public gin journey during 2020, with the aim of giving an open and honest review of gins being released during the gin boom. With over 2000 gins in their personal collection, they definitely have a passion for it! Their love all things gin means they have a real understanding of flavour profiling and a real appreciation for all things craft. They have become a Youtube sensation, so if there is any gin you aren’t sure about, the Ginfluencers UK are sure to have tried it and reviewed it!