The line-up of judges for the inaugural show reads like a who's who of the world of gins, whiskies, brandies, rums and liqueurs. Jerome Royer, President of the French Brandy Federation, David Boyd, formerly responsible for the production of Chivas Regal, Abelour and Edradour and David Smith, chair judge at a number of international spirits competitions and inaugural winner of the ThinkGin Communicator of the Year will be joined by several of the country's leading spirits judges – all of whom have had extensive judging experience, mostly abroad.
The judging takes place at The Cullinan in Cape Town from 18 to 20 June. The results will be announced towards the end of July at an event in Sandton.
Chairman of the judges at the Old Mutual Trophy Spirits Show. Author, co-author and contributor to a number of wine books including The Oxford Companion to Wine, The Global Wine Encyclopaedia, and Platter’s South African Wine Guide. Recipient of the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Merite Agricole (France). First international co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge (2007). Visiting Professor of Wine Business at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business and head of the Wine Judging Academy run in association with the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. Winner of the Louis Roederer International Wine Columnist of the Year award (2012).
Scotch Whisky Master and Keeper of the Quaich in 2004, David Boyd has a career spanning 35 years of whisky blending and stock management for some of the world’s most iconic Scotch Whisky Brands. Graduated in 1980 from Edinburgh University with a B.Sc (Hons) in Biological Science and in 1984 joined Glasgow based Campbell Distillers (Pernod Ricard) as a blending technician.
Appointed Chief Blender at Campbell Distillers in 1992, responsible for the Clan Campbell, White Heather and House of Lords blends and the Aberlour and Edradour Single Malts. Developed the cult whisky Aberlour a’Bunadh and the Clan Campbell Legendary 21yo blend during this time.
Production General Manager in 1999 and Deputy Production Director from 2002, when Pernod Ricard acquired Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet and Glen Grant Single Malts. The acquisition of Allied Domecq in 2005 added Ballantine’s, Long John and Imperial to the portfolio. Later, production at Beefeater Gin distillery came under his wing. In recent years, David’s team developed Ballantine’s Hard Fired, The Glenlivet Nadurra range, Chivas Regal Extra and Beefeater Burroughs Reserve. Retired from Pernod-Ricard in 2018
President of the French Brandy Federation, a member of the tasting committee of the Bureau de Cognac, and the commission for Appellation of Origin. He is also a member of the plenary committee of the Bureau National Interprofessional du Cognac, a member of the Pineau committee and a member of the administrative board of the French Spirits Federation. Judge at New York-based competitions for Cognac-based cocktails and taster at Cognac Louis Royer.
David T Smith
David T Smith is an independent spirits writer and consultant who specialises in gin. He has written a variety of books on gin and gin drinks, including “Gin Tonica”, “The Craft of Gin” and, most recently, “The Gin Dictionary”, and has reviewed over 400 gins on his website, SummerFruitCup.com. David is the chair judge for a number of international spirits competitions and has consulted to create gins with distilleries across six continents. He was also the inaugural winner of the Think Gin Communicator of the Year.
South African Judges
Mark Backhouse is the Head of Brand Education in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa for Pernod Ricard South Africa. Previously Mark started was an inland Regional Sales Manager, before assuming the position of National Market Intelligence Manager. Today, he is responsible for Brand education training, Brand Ambassador Management and Bartender community management, endorsing the skills needed to flourish in the Spirit and Wine industry.
Marlene Bester is the Master Distiller at Van Ryn’s Brandy Cellar. She holds an MSc in Wine Biotechnology from the University of Stellenbosch. Appointed Process Manager at James Sedgwick Distillery in 2001. Nine years later she joined Van Ryn’s where she has been directly involved in distilling, maturation and the blending of world renowned brandies as well as the opportunity to work in Cognac.
Pieter de Bod
With 25 years’ experience in the spirits business, Pieter de Bod is the General Manager at KWV responsible for the entire supply chain, from distillation to packaging, of all the spirits based products. He is Chairman of the Brandy Panel at International Spirit Challenge (ISC) and a board member of the South African Brandy Foundation. With a degree in Agriculture and a certificate in wine and spirits judging from the University of Stellenbosch, he has been responsible for the development of the NQF training material in Brandy and Spirit production. Career highlights include:
Winner of best Brandy Trophy in 2013 (ISC), 2014 (IWSC), 2015 (ISC), 2016 (ISC), 2017(IWSC). Winner of Brandy and Cognac Producer of the Year Trophy in 2015 (ISC), 2016 (ISC), 2017 (IWSC), 2018 (ISC). Winner of Best South African London Dry Gin 2018, 2019 for KWV Cruxland Gin at World Gin Awards, London. Winner of best Gin at World Spirit Competition and also Spirit of the Year for Cruxland Gin.
Simone Musgrave, whose artisanal gins enjoy an extensive reputation, came to gin production from a career in the world of fast moving consumer goods. Since then her focus has been the different and quite distinct styles of Musgrave Gin, all of which enjoy an established following and have earned an enviable track record on the show circuit. Medals include Golds and Double Golds at the Michelangelo International Wine and Spirits awards, as well as a gold medal at the SA Women’s Wine and Spirits Awards (SAWWA) in 2018 and the best Floral Gin at the 2019 Cape Town Experience Awards.
A regular judge at competitions in Norway, the Netherlands, Poland and South Africa, Kresan Naidu is a vodka expert with first-hand experience of the production process, as well as the sales and marketing side of the business. A regular host at Masterclass tastings in Europe and South Africa, his subjects relate primarily to vodka, though he has also done presentations on the subject of South African botanicals. In addition to his specialised knowledge of vodka he has attended gin masterclasses with Beefeater’s Desmond Payne and served a brief apprenticeship in the Cuban rum industry.
Head of Brandy and Other Spirits at Distell’s Centre of Excellence since 2016, responsible for quality and product standardisation for Brandy, Cream liqueurs and Aperitifs. Holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Stellenbosch and an LLB degree from UNISA.
After a career start as a researcher the Pharmaceutical Industry Mare-Loe moved to the Wine Industry to work as the Wood Specialist at Distell in 2006, before becoming technical manager for spirits at Distell, part of a team responsible for the sensory approval and quality of raw materials, matured goods and final products. Judge at the International Spirits Challenge from 2016 to 2018, the Vitis Vinifera Awards and the South African Women’s Wine and Spirits Awards. Guest lecturer in brandy at the University of Stellenbosch.
Andy Watts is Head: Whisky Intrinsic Excellence at Distell. In 2016 and 2018 he was awarded the title as “Rest of the World Master Distiller / Master Blender” in Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky Awards and in 2018 was also named as the Global Icons of Whisky Master Distiller / Master Blender. In the 1980s he worked at Auchentoshan, Glen Garioch and Bowmore before his appointment as manager of The James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington, South Africa’s only commercial whisky distillery. Achievements include, as part of the Three Ships label, the first single malt produced here, the first 100% locally blended whisky and, the first single grain whisky, Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky. His many awards include the titles of World Whiskies Awards’ World’s Best Blended Whisky in 2012 for Three Ships 5-Year-Old Premium Select and World’s Best Grain Whisky in 2013 and 2018 for Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky.