IWSC announces shortlist for 2024 Spirits Communicator Trophy

Spirit news

Wed 6 Sep 2023

By Kristen Dougall

The IWSC is delighted to share the shortlist for its 2024 Spirits Communicator Trophy.

Joining this year’s judging panel were two previous winners of the Trophy, Mark Gillespie (2023 winner), Olivier Ward (2017 winner), as well as Helena Nicklin, award-winning wine and spirits writer, consultant, TV presenter and judge, Joel Harrison, award-winning drinks writer and commentator and key member of the IWSC’s Spirits Judging Committee, along with Laura Richards, Editorial Director for Club Oenologique, and completing the judging panel Kate Power, Global Senior External Communications Manager for the award sponsor, Chivas Brothers.

The winner of our 2024 Spirits Communicator Trophy will be announced at our Awards Celebration on 19 October at the Roundhouse.

Shortlisted for our 2024 Spirits Communicator Trophy are:

Ian Burrell


An internationally renowned member of the spirits industry, Ian Burrell is the world’s only recognised Global Ambassador for the rum category. A self-proclaimed “Edu-tainer”, Ian has conducted masterclasses and seminars, sipped cocktails and judged competitions on no less than 7 continents around the world. His passion for rum and cocktails is infectious and in 2007 he created the world’s first international rum festival - The UK RumFest. Ian is also raising awareness for the rum category, at the same time as raising money for charity, through his 7-continent tour. Our judges were impressed by Ian’s continued commitment and genuine enthusiasm for rum, spanning across numerous decades. His truly authentic approach resonates with spirits geeks as well as novice consumers. Ian was praised by our judges for bringing to life the joy of drinking.

Kristiane Sherry


Kristiane Sherry is a freelance drinks writer, editor, educator, presenter and spirits judge. Her career in spirits started in 2012 on a press trip to the Cinderella Viking Line Whisky Fair. She went on to edit The Spirits Business magazine, led the content team at award-winning eCommerce site Master of Malt, and worked as Head of Brand at luxury platform FINE+RARE. In July 2022 she embarked on a freelance career that has put spirits communication front and centre. Kristiane has built a social media presence that centres around the message that "Whisky is for Everyone". Our judges praised Kristiane’s personable approach, she truly brings herself into the content to help educate and engage her followers. One judge proclaimed, “I learn something new every time I read one of Kristiane’s pieces”.

Leah van Deventer


Leah van Deventer is a Cape Town-based spirits communicator. Leah regularly covers cocktail and spirits culture on her Instagram, as well as acting as an ambassador for South Africa in the global bar space. Leah has launched new platforms to help and mentor others. Two of the upliftment programmes Leah runs are, Sisterhood for Industry Support (SIS), a support group where women in the South African bar industry can share intel on job openings, freelance gigs, scholarships, competitions and other opportunities, as well as offer advice and encouragement to each other. The second is Bar Unity, a bar-skills and job-placement programme for disadvantaged youth in Cape Town. Our judges applauded Leah’s commitment to helping to raise others' voices through her work and her passion for encouraging the next generation.

Sandrae Lawrence

Sandrae Lawrence has been a writer for more than 30 years, covering everything from fashion and beauty to theatre and travel and plenty of ‘real-life’ stories in between. In 2008 Sandrae’s attention turned to the bar scene when she started a blog with her husband, The Cocktail Lovers. What initially was set out to be cocktail bar reviews has grown to become a quarterly digital and print magazine, a podcast, coupled with consumer events and cocktail competitions. Our judges were really impressed by Sandrae’s professionalism and drive, commenting that she is a risk taking and it has really paid off. The Cocktail Lovers magazine doesn’t follow a recurring structure, it diversifies its themes and columns each publication. Sandrae’s communication was praised for never forgetting her audience and always being accessible to consumers.

The winner of our 2024 Spirits Communicator Trophy will be announced at our Awards Celebration on 19 October at the Roundhouse.

Thank you to our sponsor, Chivas Brothers.