THE JUDGES MARK ANGUS Retail Manager, Gordon & MacPhail ROBIN RUSSELL Proprietor, Robbie’s Drams DOUGLAS WOOD Owner, Woodwinters Wines and Whiskies IAIN FORTEATH Sales Manager, Robertsons of Pitlochry Joining the judging panel for the first time this year, Iain loves the passion, romance and incredible flavours involved in whisky. His appreciation of a good dram started as a hobby at the age of 18, before going on to grow his knowledge and palate with a part-time job at Woodwinters in Bridge of Allan. There, whisky was his strong point, and whilst his reputation grew as the whisky specialist within Woodwinters, so did his role: to full time, and culminating in managing the flagship store. After three years with the company he moved on to his current role as sales and operations manager of Robertsons of Pitlochry, a name synonymous with good whiskies (even getting mentioned in the Broons!). At Robertsons he has overseen the development and addition of a hand selected wine range, as well as running a whisky investment club and a whisky valuation and brokering service for collectable bottles. Whisky is still a great passion, and Iain is still heavily involved in tasting new products, further developing Robertsons 450 strong whisky portfolio. Iain is delighted to bring his whisky knowledge to the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge. Having spent his entire working life in the licensed trade – last year celebrating thirty years in the business – Robin has a real passion for whisky and it is always an honour to have him on our panel. Robin personally manages one of the largest whisky stock holding retail units in the country and one of the largest online whisky shops, specialising in rare and collectable investment whiskies, and with an extensive range of clients both in the UK and worldwide. He was one of the first people to start a whisky festival in the country way back in 2003 – the annual Whisky an’ A’ That! Festival in Ayr, which hosts a wealth of whisky companies, plus celebrity guests and speakers. He also operates his own exclusive whisky club, organising tastings throughout the country. When the licenced trade was reorganised in 2007, Robin was appointed as the first Chair of South Ayrshire Local Licensing Forum, holding that position for the maximum four-year tenure. Robin particularly loves recognising new variants of much-loved whiskies in the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge, and every year he strives to introduce something new in the nomination process. Mark is currently the Retail Sales Manager at Gordon & MacPhail, winners of Whisky Magazine Retailer – Single Outlet 2014. Mark is responsible for all aspects of the flagship store in Elgin, which opened in 1891, including choosing the G&M Retail Exclusive whisky range, which he samples before writing the tasting notes which appear on the back label. Mark also organises Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival tastings for the shop and ensures customers experience some of the vast selection of single malts on offer. In September 2008 he became an Honorary Stillman, spending time at Benromach Distillery, gaining further knowledge of whisky making. He has also completed the G&M Scotch Whisky Course at Moray College UHI under the guidance of Jim Cryle. Mark has conducted many tastings for whisky enthusiasts over the last few years and has sampled a number of rare whiskies, including G&M Generations Mortlach 1938, G&M Generations Glenlivet 1940 and Glen Grant 1960 42.3% . The 2016 Scottish Field Whisky Challenge will be Mark’s fifth. For him, the most exciting part of the event is the anticipation of seeing the line-up of whiskies as you enter the room – not knowing what flavours you are about to sample. Douglas is the owner of the award-winning wine and whisky retailer and wholesaler, Woodwinters Wines and Whiskies, which has a retail presence in Edinburgh as well as the original store in Bridge of Allan. However, the larger part of Woodwinters business is wholesaling to hotels and other retailers across Scotland. Woodwinters is also a broker of older casks of whisky, and does a number of its own bottlings every year as special single cask releases. Douglas has spent the last eleven years as a senior judge at the International Wine Challenge. The key difference he picks out between the two competitions is that a large brand cannot pay to have their whiskies entered into the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge; indeed, they can only be proposed by expert tasters who can be sampling over a thousand whiskies each year. In Douglas’s opinion this makes the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge unique. It also makes the standard of entries to be judged extremely high. Indeed, he points out, that whilst there might be some debate surrounding the results, one thing is for sure – every single winner truly is an exceptional whisky, and that every whisky afficionado should be out there looking to get some for themselves.
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