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MEET THE JUDGES – THE GIN TO MY TONIC AWARDS 2024

SAY HELLO TO THE FRIENDLY FACES OF OUR JUDGING PANEL, HELPING US TO WHITTLE DOWN THE ENTRIES FOR PUBLIC VOTE

ABOUT THE GIN TO MY TONIC AWARDS

The Gin To My Tonic are back with our very own Awards Initiative for 2024!

With so many different award bodies on the market, we wanted to do something a little different, something that connects the everyday gin and spirit 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. This activity resulted in a huge 10,000 people voting in 2023 and we can’t wait to try and surpass this in 2024.

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.

The Gin To My Tonic 2024 Awards

EM & PAUL (CO-FOUNDERS, THE GIN TO MY TONIC)

Em & Paul

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.

Emma Stokes

SARAH MILLER (GIN A DING DING)

Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller is a freelance drinks writer, judge and consultant. Having developed a love of gin – and an uncanny knack for winning gin competitions(!) – in 2014, Sarah launched her blog ginadingding.com in 2016. Since then Sarah has become a regular judge at a number of drinks competitions including the World Drinks Awards and Great Taste. Shortlisted for the IWSC’s Emerging Talent in Spirits Communication Award and Consumer Drinks Communicator of the Year in the People’s Choice Drinks Awards, Sarah writes for a variety of publications and hosts the popular social media challenge #GinADayMay. She has also recently been appointed as the spirits columnist for New Zealand’s Drinksbiz magazine.

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.

Rachel Sutherland

ANDREW BROOKS (GOWER GIN COMPANY)

Andrew Brooks

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.”

James & Martha (Basalt Distillery)

The Basalt Distillery, owned by James Richardson and Martha Garbe, was the proud recipient of Best Newcomer, Best Gin & Tonic, Best Bottle, and Best Martini at The Gin To My Tonic Awards 2023. After such a successful award run, we just had to have them involved in this year’s awards as newly appointed judges. Their background in science has led to a unique approach to their product development, and they’ve also completed distilling certificates with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, as well as a university course set by their still manufacturer, iStill. They also have made a commitment to maintain high environmental standards. In a world where corporate greenwashing is making headlines, it is refreshing to meet young entrepreneurs who want to ensure environmental sustainability. James and Martha have a distinct point of view when it comes to distilling, and we can’t wait for them to apply this same expertise to the judging process.

Martha Garbe & James Richardson Jpg

JEREMY STEPHENS (SPIRITS CONSULTANT)

Jeremy Stephens Still Pic

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 eams.

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.

Dominic Scullion

SCOTT & OSCAR (THE GINFLUENCERS UK)

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!

DONNA LINFORD (GIN GALORE)

Donna launched @gin.galore on Instagram in July 2020 to share her passion and enthusiasm for Gin.  She is a WSET Spirits Qualification Holder, and the Host of #tryaminituesday on Instagram.  Donna has developed a collection of over 300 Gins.  To further her knowledge and experience in the industry she frequently attends Gin festivals and visit distilleries, with the dream to one day distil a Gin of her own.

Donna Linford

KIM HUTCHINSON (HOUSE OF HUTCHGINSON)

Kim Hutchinson

Following her first sip of Hendricks Gin back in 2012, Kim has been a huge gin fan. After boring her friends by talking about Gin on her personal social media, she started @houseofhutchginson on Instagram in 2020 reviewing global gins and other spirits. The obsession turned into a passion for the Sprits world and Kim obtained her WSET Level 3 in Spirits in 2023. Kim works in the hospitality sector as a freelance Brand Consultant, a Brand Ambassador and works for a local Gin producer in assisting in running their Gin School and Gin tasting sessions

DAN DOHERTY (MANCHESTER FOOD TOURIST)

Dan is a massive foodie who spent 8 years living all around the world, where he developed a real love for all flavours, never settling for average. This applies to wine, coffee, cheese, chocolate and of course gin; all of which can be incredibly varied and complex. Dan holds a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Spirits and a WSET Level 3 in Wine and has been involved in judging for wine, spirits and even cheese, for a number of years. Dan also writes as Manchester Food Tourist online sharing his thoughts on food, travel and various spirits, especially gin!

Dan Doherty

JO & LISA (GIN & COCKTAILS)

Jo & Lisa

Jo and Lisa are the duo behind the popular Gin & Cocktails Instagram (and TikTok, Facebook etc) account. These two gin-sipping ladies from Liverpool love a craft gin and are masterful mixologists (confirmed by their husbands, family and friends).

Their journey began with a desire to drink more gin amidst the home-bound days of 2020, and after developing a passion for gin festivals, their love affair with the spirit was ignited. They have over 300 bottles (and rising) in their collection, and their enthusiasm for exploring new flavours and crafting exquisite cocktails knows no bounds.

MICHAEL PARKER-CANHAM (SMILE THERES GIN)

Meet Michael, the gin-sipping, smile-spreading connoisseur behind @Smile_theres_gin. His love affair with the juniper-laced spirit began in 2012 at a work’s Christmas party, where an open bar unleashed a torrent of curiosity and a thirst for adventure. One sip and he was hooked, and the journey began…

Since then, Michael has been on a relentless quest to uncover the most exquisite, the most daring, and the most delightfully weird and wonderful gins this world has to offer. From boutique distilleries to back garden shed wonders, he’s a gin explorer extraordinaire, always eager to sample the next remarkable and unconventional expression.

With a discerning palate and an insatiable curiosity, Michael is ready to share his passion and guide others through the captivating world of this timeless tipple.

Michael Parker Canham

ANNA BONES (GINTUITION)

Anna Bones Gintuition

Anna first discovered a love for gin after an ill fated bike ride left her in need of a rejuvenating cocktail. As fate would have it the barman poured a gin and bitter lemon and the rest, as they say, is history. A keen interest and thirst for knowledge of all things Gin was born and grew through attending numerous Gin festivals!

Anna was able to bring her passion for Gin to her day job – hosting Gin parties for Waitrose and John Lewis – in person and then virtually during the pandemic. As well as playing an integral role in bringing to market a limited edition cocktail at home box.

Anna then branched out with her business Gintuition where she shares her passion for local and regional Gins with like minded Gin lovers. Anna has WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 Award in Wine & Spirits.

DEBBIE BURGESS (GINSTABURGE)

Debbie founded her Instagram page @ginstaburge in 2017 after discovering her love for all things gin and wanted to carve out a dedicated space to explore the category more with likeminded enthusiasts. A gin nerd at heart, Debbie is fascinated by the diversity of the gin category, keen to learn about the intricacies of methods, equipment, botanicals and the motivation behind them.

Over time she has channelled that enthusiasm out into brand collaborations, in-person & online event work, venturing into freelance consulting, writing and photography as well as establishing herself as a spirits judge since 2022 and more recently a #drinkclusive mentor.

Debbie is as passionate about the people and the story behind the brands as the products themselves, and prides herself on helping to amplify particularly in social media and influencer-based activity.

Behind the scenes Debbie often manages short to medium term social media clinics and management on behalf of brands, all while managing a full-time career too!

Debbie Burgess Ginstaburge

KEELEY LEACH (GIN THURSDAYS)

Keeley Leach Ginthursdays

Keeley is a proud mum of two and along with her husband Stuart they co-own a multi-award winning micro-pub in Kent.

She has worked in the world of hospitality and drinks for a number of years. Keeley worked full-time for an essential oils company based in London where they rectify natural oils for use in food, spirits and tonics production. She was introduced to gin by a friend close to twenty years ago and she is a member of numerous gin clubs.

She collects rare and limited edition gins and she talks about her love of gin through her Instagram account ‘Gin Thursdays’.

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