Emerging Talent in Spirits Communication 2023 shortlist

IWSC news

Wed 15 Feb 2023

The IWSC’s 2023 Emerging Talent in Spirits Communication Trophy is sponsored by Whyte & Mackay.


In 2022 the IWSC launched its Emerging Talent in Spirits Communication award. This year marks only the second year the title will be awarded and following 2022’s strong shortlist of contenders, our 2023 shortlist once again highlights the exciting future of the category.

The judging panel for this award comprised of the previous three winners of the IWSC’s Spirit Communicator Trophy: Becky Paskin, Millie Milliken and Mark Gillespie. In addition Editorial Director for Club Oenologique, Laura Richards was on the panel, plus Helena Nicklin and from the award sponsor, Whyte & Mackay, Kieran Healey Ryder.

Our judges were on the hunt for individuals starting out in the world of spirits communication. Entry numbers for this year’s award were double the number of 2022 entries, which is a positive reminder of all the fresh talent sharing their love of spirits.

The 2023 shortlist for the IWSC’s Emerging Talent in Spirits Communication is:

Emma Cookson

A bartender as well as a communicator, Emma had her pick of Emerging Talent categories to enter! In addition to her bartending role at Whisky & Alement, she is educator and communicator for The Whisky List. Her light-hearted, energetic, ‘kid in a candy shop’ style of communication was praised by our judges. With over 20k members, Emma spends her time communicating on behalf of The Whisky List through events and the written word, sharing sharing stories of brands, distilleries and the people behind the bottles. A real advocate for Australian whisky – she is passionate about pushing the fledgling industry to the forefront globally.

Recent achievements of note include her recognition as the Icons of Whisky 2023 Communicator of the Year and her role co-hosting the first whisky festival dedicated entirely to Aussie whisky in collaboration with the Australian Distillers Association.


Inka Kukkamaki

In January last year, Inka, together with her friend Jen launched Whisky Sisters, a weekly podcast discovering drams, distilleries, welcoming expert guests and delving into every corner of the whisky universe. Inka’s other main platform of communication is her blog, On The Sauce Again, where she shares to backstories to bottles and brands. Labelled by our judges as the voice of a new generation, the community being built around Whisky Sisters is exciting and it’s bringing the joys of whisky to a new audience. Whisky Sisters was described as being empowering and cheeky and something our judges felt they could see going a long way.


Jess Williamson

Content Manager for Master of Malt, our judges highlighted the quality of the communicators that come through the ranks here. Now in her fourth year at MoM, Jess is really pushing the video content via MoM’s various digital channels, particularly Instagram reels. She finds the challenge of engaging people in 60 seconds incredibly rewarding. And while she is excited by video, she is a keen writer too – with regular contributions to the MoM’s blog and clearly really starting to make a name for herself. Our judges felt Jess was doing great things and felt she had a really strong writing style.


Kate Malczewski

Our judges agreed that Kate’s was a strong application and that the work she is carrying out at Bar Chick is fantastic. Taking on the role as editor last summer, Kate has done a great job single-handedly running the site’s content, whilst continuing with her freelance work.

She has a great tone of voice and makes spirits very accessible. Another communicator with a bright future, Kate really showcases her impressive breadth of knowledge across a variety of spirits. She has experience writing for several trade publications, including Imbibe and The Spirits Business and she exhibits amazing agility adapting her communication style between consumer and trade. An impressive communicator and someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously, she claims one of her successes of note in the past year was bagging an interview with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, founder of Teremana Tequila.


Sarah Miller

Specialising in sharing her love of gin, Sarah joined the drinks trade following a career in the museum industry. Our judges felt that Sarah was really getting into her stride and making great progress. She has recently made a name for herself as a communicator offering her authority on sustainability within the spirits sector – a subject which will continue to require Sarah’s consultation and experience.  


Congratulations to our shortlisted entrants. The 2023 winner for the IWSC’s Emerging Talent in Spirits Communication will be announced on Wednesday 22 February.