World Whisky Forum Issue No 2

The Speakers


InchDairnie / UK

Founder/MD, John Fergus & Co Ltd

Ian Palmer is Managing Director and founder of John Fergus & Co ltd, who own and operate the InchDairnie Distillery in Fife. They make InchDairnie Single Lowland malt and Ryelaw scotch grain whisky. Ian has worked in various production roles in the whisky industry for 40 years.


Kings County Distillery / USA

Co-founder/Head Distiller

Colin Spoelman is co-founder and head distiller at Kings County Distillery, New York City’s largest and oldest craft distillery. Kings County’s whiskeys have won gold and double-gold medals from several world spirits competitions as well as praise from the New York Timesthe New YorkerWhiskey Advocate, and GQ, among other outlets. He is also co-author of The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining, a how-to manual for whiskey making and Dead Distillers, a history of spirits told through famous and forgotten distillers.


Kirin Brewery Co / Japan

Master Blender Jota Tanaka is the master behind Kirin’s highly recognized Fuji Sanroku 50° and the exiting work at the Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery. With various academic & professional experiences in U.S.A. and Japan, Jota has been taking leadership in several aspects of Kirin’s whisky business, and invigorating the organization to create new values, and then developing new products & services. At the Forum he will focus on “peak in maturation”  and maybe share some aspects of grain whisky with us.


Bruichladdich / UK

Chief Executive Officer, International Single Malt Whisk(e)y

Simon Coughlin has spent his entire working career in the premium drinks business. After school he found himself bored by university and left to join close friend Mark Reynier working in his family firm specialising in importing fine wine from Burgundy. Coughlin became fascinated by the principles of terroir that underpin the quality of Burgundy, but was surprised to discover that the Scotch whisky industry had long since lost any connection with the land or the source of its raw materials. When the semi-derelict Bruichladdich became available in 2000, Coughlin and Reynier seized the opportunity, put together a proposal, and persuaded a group of fifty enthusiasts to buy shares. In 2012 the company was purchased by the French premium spirits business Remy Cointreau. Simon Coughlin is now Chief Executive Officer of International Single Malt Whisk(e)y. Perhaps his proudest achievement is to have cemented the position of this progressive Hebridean distillery as the largest private employer on Islay, which remains his Scottish island home.


St George's Distillery / UK

Chief Distiller

After working in education and the media in the 1980s, David went into the restaurant and bar trade initially working in kitchens where he learnt about flavour whilst working with chefs. He subsequently became the manager of a busy bar and restaurant in the City of London. In 2001 he joined the Greene King brewery in Bury St Edmunds working in all areas of production and in July 2007 he came to St. George’s to become, at the time, the only malt whisky distiller in England.


Saints & Monsters / USA

Distiller and consultant

Lisa is a former commercial winemaker. A move to Kentucky to build a winery with a plan to acquire a still and learn from the locals, evolved her starting Saints & Monsters Distillery Consulting. She has distilled at Limestone Branch, Starlight, oversaw construction of Preservation Distillery in Bardstown. Her current clients include Samson & Surrey, owners of Widow Jane, FEW Spirits, Philadelphia Bluecoat, Brenne. Widow Jane is her focus. She’s a guest distiller at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Distillery.


Fluid Movement/Curious Bartender / United Kingdom


Tristan is owner and operator of a number of award-winning bars, including Black Rock in London. He has written several books under the Curious Bartender and travelled to hundreds of distilleries around the world. In his spare time, he is the co-founder of Whisky-Me: a breakthrough UK whisky subscription club.


Cotswolds Distillery

Head Distiller & Operations manager

Nick’s interest in artisan spirits was piqued at an early age when tasting his Italian relatives’ homemade liqueurs and spirits, and after reaching a crossroads in life knew that making artisan spirits was what he really wanted to do and that the time was right to follow his heart’s calling. With BA in Archaeology and Masters degrees in Physical Anthropology and Philosophy, and careers in the family import business and the hospitality trade, as well as a short, lived and adrenaline-fueled time as a professional cage fighter change was in order. After meeting Dan at an IBD led distilling course in Edinburgh he arrived at the Cotswolds Distillery several months later.


Hiram Walker Distillery / Canada

Master Blender

Dr Don Livermore is the Master Blender of Hiram Walker & Sons Limited in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.   He is responsible for some of Canada’s award-winning whiskies such as JP Wiser’s, Lot 40, Pike Creek, and Gooderham & Worts.   After graduation in 1996 from the University of Waterloo with a degree in microbiology, Don started his career in the distillery as a lab technician.   At that time Don was a pioneer in developing techniques using NIR for fermentation analysis.   This transformed how the distilling industry monitored fermentations and distillery processes. He wrote a chapter in the Alcohol Textbook 4th Edition and in the World Wide Distilled Spirits Conference in 2012 on the topic of NIR and has spoken around the world in this area of expertise.   Don furthered his education by completing an MSc and PhD in Brewing in Distilling at Heriot-Watt University with a focus on how wood interacts with whisky.   In 2012, he became the Master Blender of Hiram Walker Distillery.   Today, Don is a sought-after speaker on Canadian Whisky as he brings together all facets of distillery operations and maturation processes and how flavours are developed in whisky. He created the Canadian Whisky Flavour Wheel© which is a unique perspective on blending whisky.


Kyrö / Finland

CEO Kyrö Distillery Company

Miika Lipiäinen found whisky through classic single malts but fell in love after tasting rye. Hailing from Finland and basically being raised on rye bread, porridge and pies, the only logical thing was to found Kyrö Distillery Company, a distillery focused solely on rye together with Kalle Valkonen and 3 other friends. Now his mission as the CEO of the distillery is to drive the creation of Nordic rye and single malt rye as categories.


Kavalan / Taiwan

Master Blender

A seasoned judge for the World Whiskies Awards (WWA) and International Wine and Spirits Competition(IWSC), Master Blender Ian Chang has been fundamental to the establishment and growth of Kavalan since its inception in 2005. Working closely with global whisky expert, the late Dr Jim Swan, Ian helped design the distillery and Kavalan’s wood policy in Taiwan’s subtropical climate. As well as responsibility for R&D, blending and quality control, Ian drives a team of associates in global business development and brand ambassadorial activities, which takes him all over the globe. He has been awarded the WWA’s 2015 Whisky Distillery Manager and Master Distiller of the Year, as well as the Icons of Whisky’s 2017 World Whisky Brand Ambassador of the year. He dedicated the distillery’s latest top award, the IWSC’s 2017 Distiller of the Year to Dr Swan. Ian is also a Member of the London-based Institute of Brewing & Distilling(IBD) and alumnus of Reading University in the UK.

Georgie Bell and Becky Paskin

#OurWhisky / UK


#OurWhisky is an on-going global campaign designed to dispel common myths of who modern whisky drinkers are through highlighting the diversity of the whisky industry, the inclusiveness of whisky and the variety of its drinkers. Although the consensus within the industry is that whisky is a drink with widespread appeal, the perception remains among many consumers that whisky is still a “man’s drink”. The #OurWhisky project is designed to challenge these perceptions through a photographical social media series, which launched in March 2018. Spearheaded by Becky Paskin, Editor of online whisky magazine, and Georgie Bell, Global Whisky Educator, they hope to inspire people all over the globe by showcasing how diverse whisky drinkers really are.


Kyrö / Finland

Head Distiller

Kalle Valkonen owes a lot to Germany. After attending high school in Germany, he first acquired the desire the brewed beer, then picked up the passion for the art of distillation and most recently managed to persuade a German maiden to follow him to rural Finland near Kyrö Distillery. As the Head Distiller of the distillery Kalle is on a mission to master rye – he has a long journey ahead.


Irish Distilleries

Master Distiller

Responsible for maintaining the quality of all new pot and grain distillates produced at Midleton, Brian oversees the production process from brewing to distillation and holds the position of tasting all whiskeys daily, to ensure the correct flavours and that pot still spiciness is present.

Brian joined the Irish Distillers team in December 1997, overseeing various projects in the environmental department until 2002. From here Brian moved on to train as a distiller, working under former Master Distiller Barry Crockett for 10 years, and eventually going on to win the Worshipful Company Distillers Award for achieving the highest IBD distilling exam results in the world in 2006 – the first Irish Distiller to receive the award.

Brian graduated from Cork Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Engineering and later received a post-graduate diploma in Project Management from the University of Limerick.