IWSC announces shortlist for 2023 Spirits Communicator Trophy

IWSC news

Mon 5 Sep 2022

The IWSC is delighted to share the shortlist for its 2023 Spirits Communicator Trophy.

Joining the judging was 2022’s winner, Millie Milliken, together with Becky Paskin who was awarded the accolade in 2021. Joel Harrison and Laura Richards completed the judging panel together with Aurelie Kane, Communication Director for the award sponsor, Chivas Brothers.

The winner of this year’s Spirits Communicator Trophy will be announced at our Awards Dinner & Industry Celebration on 29 September at the Roundhouse.

Shortlisted for this year’s Spirits Communicator Trophy are:

Billy Abbott

An incredibly popular member of the spirits community, our judges all had nothing but great things to say about Billy Abbott. Launching his first book last October – The Philosophy of Whisky has seen great success with both whisky newbies and aficionados alike. Interspersing his writing for Whisky Exchange with training for Speciality Drinks employees and freelance writing, Billy has also joined the Worshipful Company of Distillers' mentorship and Vocational Training and Education group.


Caroline Ashford

Our judges felt that Caroline, aka The Gin Queen, has been instrumental in putting Australian gin on the global map. As the Australian gin market has grown, so has both Caroline’s workload and her social media following. It was to great delight that we announced three of our shortlisted producers for the 2022 International Gin Producer Trophy were from Australia and Caroline’s support helped to spread the news.


James Atkinson

Also from Australia, James Atkinson has been writing about spirits for over 10 years. Complimenting his website, Drinks Adventures, James recently launched his podcast which already has an impressive listenership placing it in Australia’s top 1% of podcasts. Featuring a wide breadth of topics and impressive guests, James aspires to grow Drinks Adventures to become one of the world’s leading drinks podcasts, which our judge’s felt he was well on the way to achieving.

Mark Gillespie

Founder of internationally respected Whiskycast, Mark has been hosting online conversation on his website since 2005. Hosting weekly podcasts and regularly updated content on the latest new, events and insights Whiskycast is balanced with feedback and commentary from listeners and followers. Recognised as of the biggest names for spirits writing, our judges emphasised that while Mark’s website attracts a massive audience, he ensures he makes time for mentoring and supporting younger communicators in the industry. A real supporter of emerging talent, Mark really puts the time into sharing his experience and expertise.


Natasha McGill

With her training in broadcast radio and communications, Tash has carved out an impressive career in spirits communication in New Zealand over the past ten years. The judges really appreciated the breadth of Natasha’s experience across a spectrum of communication outlets, including print, digital and broadcast and felt she deserved recognition for the work she is doing putting NZ into the international spirit’s industry spotlight.  As well as writing and presenting, Tash consults on brands and has supported the local industry with the implantation of regulations for the production of home-produced spirits, including New Zealand Rum and Whiskey.


The winner of this year’s Spirits Communicator Trophy will be announced at our Awards Dinner & Industry Celebration on 29 September at the Roundhouse.

Thank you to our sponsor, Chivas Brothers.