The 25th Annual NB Spirits Festival
Guest Bios
Guest Bios

Here are a few of our planned guests. We'll be updating this list on a regular basis over the coming days and weeks.

Jodi Curtis
Jodi Curtis
Business Development Manager - El Dorado Rum

Hailing from the warm beaches of the Bahamas and growing up in her family's Wine and Spirits stores, Jodi has been around rum her entire life.

Now as the Business Development Manager for El Dorado Aged Rums and Diamond Reserve Rums in the USA, Jodi has spent the past 5 years educating and advocating on both brands offerings.

These days you can catch Jodi in the airport as she travels from state to state spreading the good news of the delicious Demerara Distillers rum expressions, while shouting "one day we will be the brown spirit of choice".

Ray Daniel
Ray Daniel
Beam Suntory Bourbon Ambassador

Ray Daniel brings with him nearly two decades of experience behind the bar, from Europe to North American where he is currently the Beam Suntory Bourbon Ambassador to Canada.

Hailing from Ireland, he has a huge and broad range of knowledge of whiskey, and the bourbon category in particular. With a long background in competitive bartending, Ray's escapades have landed him in competitions and as a guest speaker and lecturer throughout Canada, Mexico and the USA and appearing in publications such as Whisky Magazine and The New York Times.

Jam packed with passion, humour and a massive respect for the history of Whiskey, Rays presentations have become a much sought-after affair.

Tim Farrell
Tim Farrell
Country Manager - Heaven Hill

Tim manages Heaven Hill's wide portfolio of bourbons and other spirits across Canada. He has more than a decade of experience in the Canadian spirits industry, across almost all categories. He's happy to admit, however, that he's most passionate talking about - and tasting - whiskey

Based in Toronto, Tim takes pride in sharing Heaven Hill Distillery's storied history north of the border. His drink of choice? Elijah Craig Small Batch on the rocks.

Mark Gillespie
Mark Gillespie
Founder & Host - Whiskycast

Host of WhiskyCast. Journalist, podcaster, photographer, & writer.

WhiskyCast began in 2005, and has become one of podcasting's longest-running shows, along with a global online whisky community. In addition to the weekly podcast, Mark also hosts the monthly WhiskyCast Tasting Panel podcast and WhiskyCast HD video segments.

Mark was previously a contributing editor to Whisky Magazone and is also a veteran broadcast and electronic journalist, having worked directly or as a freelancer for Bloomberg News, The Wall Street Journal Radio Network, The Gallup Organization, MSNBC, and several television and radio stations.

Tish Harcus
Tish Harcus
Brand Ambassador - Canadian Club

Tish is responsible for managing the Canadian Club Brand Center in Walkerville, Ontario, and attends whisky shows in Canada and the US to share her love of the portfolio. With over 27 years of experience representing the brand, she is a key member of the Global CC marketing team.

In March 2014 she accepted two awards in London, England for 2013/14 Whisky Center Manager of the Year from the prestigious Icons of Whisky Association.

In 2013 Tish developed the CC Women & Whisky program for women who are interested in knowing more or discovering whisky for the first time. Since its inception, she has traveled the world sharing her knowledge with women.

Tish takes great pride in sharing Canadian Club's historical facts with key sales people, distributors and the general public.

Simon Hooper
Simon Hooper
Brand Ambassador - Diageo

Simon has over 15 years of experience in the spirits and hospitality industry, with a strong emphasis on cocktail development, training, and execution.

Simon has worked in all facets of the industry, and has a built a diverse skill set that has allowed him to consult for a wide range of hotels, restaurants and bars; developing beverage and logistical operations programs across North America, and internationally.

Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Simon is no stranger to exotic ingredients, interesting techniques, and is passionate about incorporating them into exciting and engaging presentations.

Emmett Hossack
Emmett Hossack
Whisky Ambassador - The Scottish Society of Ottawa

Emmett Hossack's whisky journey started when he made his first trip to Scotland in 1966. It wasn't until 2002 that he began to seriously taste whisky. He is currently a member of whisky clubs in Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, and Scotland.

His enthusiasm for whisky led him to start taking notes and assigning scores in 2011. He has tasted and scored over 3,000 different whiskies since then.

He has also organized and led a number of Master Classes in person and virtually across Canada. Since the pandemic, he has served on the Ottawa Whisky Guild Planning Committee which has organized and delivered over 50 virtual Master Classes, with half of them featuring renowned presenters from Scotland, Canada, and the US. Emmett is passionate about whisky and the friendships it nourishes.

Twitter: @whiskyscores Website: www.whiskyscores.com

Woody Kane
Woody Kane
Global Brand Ambassador - Royal Oak Distillery

In 1999, Woody Kane officially entered the professional spirits world when he began assisting The Hot Irishman company with Irish Coffee & Irish Cream in R&D. From 2006, he took a greater role with The Irishman & Writers Tears brands by setting up trade show experiences and training bar staff around Ireland and worked to rebrand the whiskey/liqueur, assisting with design and the brand story.

He joined Royal Oak as ambassador in 2014 with the goal of creating a world class distillery in County Carlow. As the educator and storyteller, he began the Visitor Experience which landed him the prestigious Icon Of Whisky award. He created and managed Masterclasses for trade groups both national and international, and has been involved in the Ambassador Gloves are Off with the Irish Whiskey Society where ambassadors are asked to blind taste as well as being a judge for The World Whiskies Awards.

He's proud to be part of Royal Oak where they source the highest ingredients, from barley to water. Highly trained distillers watch carefully over the process from barley to barrel.

Jamie Johnson
Jamie Johnson
Glenfiddich National Brand Ambassador, Canada

Toronto-based Jamie Johnson, is a highly-respected whisky champion and conversationalist. She is widely known for hosting tasting events and masterclasses across Canada, as well as co-hosting the popular whisky podcast, The Whisky Topic. She has also written extensively about whisky, and whisky culture for publications like Relish & Whisky Magazine and whisky.buzz to name a few.

Jamie's in-depth knowledge of whisky began with a personal passion project when she invited (i.e. forced, in her words) friends to her Toronto home to share different bourbon drams and have spirited conversations about flavour, taste, production, and so on. This informal gathering grew, as interest in whisky spread , and soon Bourbon Thing became a real thing, with events in bars and restaurants, a fully-fledged website and partnerships with some of the city's most well-respected bartenders.

In 2018 Jamie enhanced her whisky knowledge by completing the renowned General Certificate in Distilling, building on her home-grown knowledge "with all that unromantic but crucial stuff". This gives her a qualification with international recognition underpinned by scientific knowledge and principles of distilling operations.

Guillaume Lamy
Guillaume Lamy
Whisk(e)y Ambassador - Beam Inc.

Guillaume Lamy is the Vice President The Americas for Cognac Ferrand, the father of artisanal spirits based in Ars, France. He has been with the company for over 15 year and is responsible for sales, marketing and consumer education for the Cognac Ferrand brands in North and South America including: Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Citadelle Gin, Mathilde Liqueurs, Plantation Rums, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, Cerbois Armagnac and Daron Calvados. He was born and raised in France and did his higher studies in both France and the U.S. Mr. Lamy began working for Cognac Ferrand in France and then transferred to the U.S.

He travels to Cognac every year to work with the Alexandre Gabriel, proprietor of Cognac Ferrand, and the distillery's Cellar Master to develop new blends and decide when to release new products and vintages in the Americas. Mr. Lamy has extensive knowledge of spirits and has conducted seminars on Cognac and other French regional spirits as a guest lecturer at Boston University and Fairleigh Dickenson University. He has spread his spirits knowledge as a speaker on industry panel discussions around the country and has served as a spirits judge for many organizations, including the American Distilling Institute (ADI).

John Leroux
John Leroux
Manager of Collections and Exhibitions - Beaverbrook Art Gallery

John Leroux has practiced in the fields of art history, architecture, visual art, curation, and education, and is currently the Manager of Collections and Exhibitions at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in his hometown of Fredericton. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from McGill University, a Master of Arts in Art History from Concordia University, and a PhD in History from the University of New Brunswick.

He has worked at several award-winning architecture firms in Toronto, Atlanta, and Fredericton, and has taught at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, the University of New Brunswick, and St. Thomas University. He has won many awards for architectural and public art projects throughout Canada, and he was a team member of Canada's entry at the 2012 Venice Biennale in Architecture. A passionate advocate for the arts and for architectural conservancy, John has authored 16 books on architecture and visual culture. He is also a proud member of the Fredericton Whisky Tasting Society.

Don Livermore
Dr. Don Livermore
Master Blender - Hiram Walker & Sons

Dr. Don Livermore 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. He was a pioneer in developing techniques using NIR for fermentation analysis. This transformed how the industry monitored fermentations. He wrote a chapter in the Alcohol Textbook 4th Edition on NIR and has spoken around the world in this area of expertise. He completed a MSc and PhD in Brewing in Distilling at Heriot Watt University with a focus on how wood interacts with whisky.

In 2012, he became Master Blender of Hiram Walker Distillery and in 2019 and in 2020 he won the Canadian Whisky Master Blender of the Year at the Canadian Whisky Awards. Don is a sought-after speaker on Canadian Whisky as he brings together all facets of distillery operations, maturation, and how flavours develop in whisky.

He created the Canadian Whisky Flavour WheelŠ, and published two books in 2022; The Canadian Whisky Master Class Volume 1 - The Keeper of History and The Canadian Whisky Master Class Volume 2 - Blending 101.

Graeme Macaloney
Dr. Graeme Macaloney
Founder & Master Whiskymaker - Macaloney's Island Distillery

Dr. Graeme Macaloney, an ex-pat Scot, is the Master Whiskymaker and founder of Canada's most internationally awarded single malt distillery: Macaloney's Island Distillery, Victoria B.C. Graeme has crafted a series of classic single malts, with 4 'Canadian Best' gold medals from the prestigious World Whiskies Awards, UK (WWA), a series of triple distilled potstill whiskies (incl. WWA 'Canadian Best'), and peated single malts (incl 2 WWA 'Worlds Best' newmake-young spirit gold medals).

All of his whiskies use superior quality Canadian barley, are at least 46% abv, non-chill filtered with no colour added and have an infusion of island air! Macaloney's Island Distillery is the only distillery outside of Islay to peat smoke local barley to 54 ppm at 2 tonnes per batch. To accomplish this, Graeme studied traditional peat smoking at Islay's three remaining distilleries who still peat smoke. To achieve award winning triple distilled potstill whiskies, he also visited Ireland's most senior Master Distiller twice over two years before commencing traditional Irish-style triple distillation of single pot still whiskies and winning gold and top 2 in the world for Macaloney's triple-distilled new-make.

Johanne McInnis
Johanne McInnis

Freelance spirits writer, whisky panelist and judge with over 25 years experience as a public speaker.

Armed with an educational background in distillation she regularly travels the world and presents master classes in the UK well as North America.

Passionate, enthusiastic and entertaining; Johanne loves to share her stories, knowledge base and help others on their own spirits discovery journey.

Evan McNeil
Evan McNeil
Atlantic Portfolio Specialist - Sovereign Wine & Spirits

Hailing from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Evan has been bartending for 11 years and has played an influential role in Atlantic Canada's cocktail and spirits scene working at some of Halifax's most recognized bars including, Lot Six, The Middle Spoon/Noble, and Dear Friend Bar.

Joining the team at Sovereign Wine & Spirits (aka Sovereign Canada) as the first Atlantic representative in 2018, Evan is responsible for Sovereign's portfolio of spirits that ranges from gins, cachaca, mezcal, tequila and r(h)ums such as J.M. Rhum, Rhum Clement, and Admiral Rodney that will be featured at this year's festival.

Evan has been closely involved in the operations of Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, noted as the world's largest cocktail festival, Drink Atlantic Cocktail Festival in Halifax and Spirited Away in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and has attended and sponsored events at the Toronto Cocktail Conference.

If you're a fan of cocktail bitters, syrups, and non-alcoholic spirits, Evan runs his own e-commerce site, Big Wheel's Bar, selling brands such as Scrappy's Bitters, Peychaud's, Lumette Alt-Spirits, and Bittermens. Well versed in spirits and cocktails, Evan is excited to be part of the New Brunswick Spirits Festival.

John MacPherson
John MacPherson
Scotch Specialist - PMA Canada

John MacPherson represents 12 of the world's most prestigious brands of Scotch Whisky. A Scotch fan for life, John has immersed himself in the lore, craft and history of this fascinating world. He enjoys nothing more than sharing these stories along with a few great drams.

He has been working in the spirits industry since 2009. Once he stepped behind the bar, John learned his craft and expanded his knowledge of spirits from around the globe. It was during this time that John began hosting small private groups for whisky tastings, leading attendees through the delights of exciting tastes and aromas while sharing the knowledge of each distillery's story and process. As his passion grew, John took on new challenges in the spirits industry while continuing his own journey into the world of whisky.

John joined PMA Canada in early 2019 as a Scotch Specialist, leading groups big and small in whisky tastings and helping each person he meets further expand their own passion for single malt whisky. Follow his continuing whisky adventures on Instagram @TheCanadianScotchman.

Greg Mefford
Greg Mefford
International Sales Director - Luxco

Greg Mefford is the International Sales Director for Luxco, Inc., the Branded Division of MGP, Ingredients Inc. In this role Greg develops Luxco' s Bourbon and Whiskey brands around the world. Before his work at Luxco, Greg spent 14 years with Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery including 10 years based in Europe. At Gallo, Greg was instrumental in opening new markets, building distribution, creating consumer outreach and marketing programs to support the California winery's sales efforts in Europe.

Greg brought his broad international beverage experience and personal passion for Bourbon and Whiskey to Luxco more than 8 years ago and has since overseen the development and expansion of the international distribution of Luxco's award-winning Bourbons and Whiskeys, including Blood Oath, Yellowstone, Rebel, Ezra Brooks, Remus and Rossville Union Rye among many others.

Greg possesses a degree in Political Science with a minor in International Business from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He resides in St. Louis, Missouri where Luxco's headquarters is based.

Karen Moodie
Karen Moodie
Brand Ambassador - Flor de Caņa

Originally hailing from the picturesque shores of Scotland, Karen has, like Flor de Caņa, traveled far and wide around the world. She brings over 15 years of industry knowledge and experience. Her career began the UK where her passion was sparked for finely crafted beverages as she worked managing sales for AB Inbev's premium portfolio. Like many great Scottish exports, the call of adventure was too hard to resist and her sights soon moved further ashore across the Atlantic to Canada. It's here she expanded her experience, representing a wide array of household names such as Kraken Rum, Three Olives Vodka, and 1800 Tequila. Her breadth and depth of knowledge continued as she spearheaded on-trade sales for Heaven Hill, Cuervo, Sazerac, and others, before finally joining the Flor de Caņa family in 2015. This impressive spirits category knowledge provides Karen with a unique breadth of experience that serves as the foundation to her specializing in the Rum category.

Today, Karen travels across the US, Canada, and Nicaragua (the home of Flor de Caņa) sharing the brand story. She loves nothing more than conducting education sessions that immerse consumers and the trade in the beautiful history of her unique Rum.

James Neil
James Neil
World Whisky Ambassador - Mixxit Canada by Beam Suntory

James Neil has spent 10+ years working as an independent restaurant consultant across Canada. In 2009 he followed his passion and opened his own restaurant, diving into the world of Italian wine and craft cocktails. It wasn't long after that when he was introduced to the World of Whisky and the fire was burning.

As a fan of the Beam Suntory portfolio, James had a desire to work with the organization and started doing so for 7 years with the Mixxit Canada team as a lead product specialist dedicated to brand education with Beam Suntory associates and customers. Stepping in the role as a Brand Ambassador for over 50+ events he felt it was time to join the organization in a permanent role.

James is also the founder of the Hamilton Cocktail Showcase which is a local platform for bartenders to showcase their craft featuring Beam Suntory brands while giving back to local charities. In 2017 James started into a sales role with the Beam family and now has most recently moved into the role of World Whisky Ambassador which allows him to share his knowledge and passion.

Martine Nouet
Martine Nouet

Martine is one of the world's leading whisky writers and a specialist on the pairing of whisky and food, Martine particularly enjoys writing about (and of course enjoying) Scotch Whisky. A regular contributor to Whisky Magazine, she launched the Whisky Magazine French edition in 2004 and continues to provide her perspective and tasting notes on spirits from around the world.

She hosts whisky dinners in France and in Scotland and is a judge at the annual International Wine & Spirit Competition in London. She is also the author of "Les Routes du Malt". In France, Martine is known as La reine de l'Alambic (The Queen of the Still!), and she was "The whisky chef" on singlemalt TV, a webTV channel dedicated to whisky.

Martine Nouet travelled the whisky trails intensely in 2009 with French Canadian film maker Bruno Carričre who produced a fourteen hour program on whisky for Evasion channel, "Passion Whisky".

Martine was born in Normandy and now makes Islay her home. We're honoured to have her back as our special guest for another special year.

Frank Scott
Frank Scott
Founder & Chairman, New Brunswick Spirits Festival

Whenever Frank Scott pours a single malt into a glass, a look of satisfaction and contentment crosses his face. No wonder. As one of Canada's most respected Scotch connoisseurs, he's passionate about whisky.

Frank co-owns and manages the Lunar Rogue, an award-winning pub in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. With more than 500 whiskies on the gantry - one of the best selections in North America - the "Rogue" is a favourite destination for whisky lovers. Whisky Magazine calls it one of the "great whisky bars of the world".

Born in Fredericton, Frank's 39-year career as a publican began in 1976 when he opened his first pub. Ten years later, he developed an interest in Scotch whisky, and, ever since, has devoted himself to expanding and sharing his knowledge about how it's produced. Since 1992, he's hosted many whisky seminars and tastings for corporate groups and charitable events.

Frank is a member and past president of the Whisky Tasting Society of New Brunswick. He has toured more than 70 distilleries and each year attends the Spirit of Speyside Festival, which named him International Ambassador during the 2014. In 2016, he was inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich.

Bryan Simpson
Bryan Simpson
National Brand Ambassador for Ardbeg & Glenmorangie

Bryan Simpson has been a part of the Scotch Whisky community for over a decade, both in his native Scotland and his new home of Canada. Born in Glasgow, but now living in Toronto, he has ignited thousands of Canadians' passion for Single Malt before being appointed Canadian Brand Ambassador for Ardbeg and Glenmorangie

Back in Scotland, Bryan combined his love for the Highlands with his whisky tasting zeal and formed a whisky club that experienced Scotch in the heart of Scotland's wilds. His well-honed palate was developed pairing whisky drinkers with their perfect dram where he gained a reputation of hosting engaging presentations to both those new to Scotch and experienced malt enthusiasts.

Bryan's obsession with Ardbeg and Glenmorangie is not just what's in the glass, but the history of both brands and how it ties to Scotch Whisky as a whole. His interest in the scientific aspects of Scotch making is clear, but just as important to him is the social world that exists around his favourite drink and how it brings people together.

Brennon Stephenson
Brennon Stephenson
National Whiskey Ambassador - Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Proper No. Twelve, The Sexton, Stranahan's, Tin Cup, & Pendleton

Brennon is an experienced bartender, whiskey expert, and a passionate spirits educator. He honed his craft in Toronto's cocktail scene, working alongside some of the industry's sharpest talents at leading mixology accounts including the Gladstone Hotel, Drake Mini Bar, Northwood, The Cloak, and Barchef.

In 2019, Brennon took over the bar program at Founder Restaurant in Dundas West, earning recognition from multiple publications including Toronto Life, BlogTO, Foodism Magazine, and the Toronto Taste showcase. Brennon has also developed and facilitated cocktail and spirits education programs as an educator at Founder and the Bartender Atlas.

Beside his qualifications behind the bar, Brennon has a background in psychology, advertising, and creative writing. He was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and currently resides in Toronto's West end with his cat, Gina.

Alex Steppacher
Alex Steppacher
Regional Vice President Americas - International Beverage Holdings LTD

Alex oversees International Beverage Holdings LTD wide portfolio of Single Malts and other premium spirits across the Americas. He has more than 20 years of experience in the spirits industry, across almost all categories. He is most enthusiastic talking about - and tasting - whiskey.

Alex has been privileged to work with a lengthy list of highly awarded Scotch, Bourbon, and other global whiskey products.

Based in Tampa Florida, Alex takes pride in sharing IBHL's rich history across the globe. His drink of choice? Balblair 15-year-old with a little ice.

Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson
Brand Ambassador - Forty Creek Whisky

Falling in love with whisky at first sip, Chris Thompson aspires to share the Forty Creek story with whisky fans everywhere. With an extensive background in relationship building and creating brand experiences, his current role allows him to develop partnerships with key influencers and consumers, all the while sharing his love for the Grimsby, Ontario-based brand known for its range of complex, yet approachable whiskies.

Thompson has been an active member of the Forty Creek team, and played a key role in creating the distillery's on-site experience. Starting as a retail manager, he gained a rich understanding of the brand's offerings and was eager to share his passion for the Forty Creek portfolio with colleagues and customers.

Prior to joining Forty Creek, Thompson began his career in the entertainment industry, working on the road with Canadian and international artists, producing award shows, music festivals and corporate events. Living in Niagara, the heart of Ontario's wine country, he landed in the tourism and wine industry, helping build award-winning attractions and wineries from the ground up. When he's not working, an ideal day for Thompson entails putting on a record (yes, vinyl one!), spending time with family and enjoying a glass of Forty Creek.

Alan Winchester
Alan Winchester
Master Distiller (Retired) - The Glenlivet

Alan Winchester was appointed as Master Distiller of The Glenlivet in 2009. He mastered a dazzling succession of skills as mashman, brewer and stillman in 20 distilleries until he reached this position, applying his wisdom and passion at every level.

Alan's determination extends outside the world of single malt; he is a keen walker and has conquered all of Scotland's famous 283 Munros, a classification of Scottish mountain over 3000 feet.

As Master Distiller, Alan's job was to ensure the legacy that George Smith began all those years ago continued: that the whisky is always of supreme quality and that all new products reflected the spirit's character and depth. A tremendous responsibility, and one that he took great pride in.

Lindsay Wood
Lindsay Wood
Maker's Mark Diplomat - Eastern Canada

Lindsay has a background of over 15 years of hospitality background having managed at bars and restaurants in Toronto including Parts and Labour, Bar Raval and Dailo. She has worked in the world of craft beer, spirits sales leading to an exciting landing at Global Bourbon Brand Makers Mark.

Lindsay travels between Canada and Loretto, Kentucky hosting Canadian Leaders in beverage alcohol to the distillery, often leading them in a blending experience that is unique to Maker's Mark. Hospitality is the driver for everything Lindsay does.