Young gin lovers presented with IWSC Emerging Talent in Spirits award

Spirit news

Tue 13 Apr 2021

By Pip Mortimer

The Emerging Talent in Spirits is a new award for the IWSC, created as part of a series to highlight talent, innovation, dedication, and passion across the interweaving strands of the drinks industry. Sponsored by Whyte & Mackay, the aim was to find an individual who embodies these values and has a respect for the past whilst informing the present. View the nominees

This was a difficult decision to make, with the talent of the entrants wide and varied across several spirit-related fields. In the end, the panel was split between two candidates, whose creativity and dedication to what they do could not be bettered – the decision was made to award both this inaugural award.

Alice Pearson fell into the spirits industry. A summer job working on the bottling line at the Cotswolds Distillery gave her a taste and led her to apply for a part-time job working in the lab for new product development. From these modest beginnings, she has risen through the ranks, gained her general certificate of distilling and now runs the department.

Her creative drive has led her to spearhead development of new lines for Cotswolds, including the highly reviewed Gin Drops (pictured below) that were a feature on the ‘This Morning’ show, as well as the Christmas Cotswolds Gin that sold in the tens of thousands.


What adds to Pearson’s creative drive and passion is her advocacy of distilling as a career, evidenced by the many talks and presentations she gives. The panel were thrilled to see that youth does not need to be a barrier to rising through the ranks in the industry, impressed by her dedication to the field of product development and approaching it with curiosity and passion. A worthy winner.

Our joint winner came to the role of product development by a different path. Rachel Sutherland was also bitten by the distilling bug early on, looking for work experience at her local distilleries in the Scottish Highlands.

A stunning academic career in chemistry led her to doing postgraduate studies in sensory development and becoming the lead researcher for Warner’s Distillery as their flavour and sensory development specialist – helping to understand the connections between botanicals both pre- and post-distilling.

This vital role has seen her develop several new products for the Warner’s range across different categories, as well as becoming an ambassador for young scientists. Her natural enthusiasm and talent have led her to a strong training role, “combining the academic and industrial side of distilled spirits,” as Sutherland says herself. Much of her research is adding new angles to the world of distilled spirits as well as non-alcoholic drinks.

The panel were overly impressed with the commitment and dedication Sutherland demonstrated for her field of study and development - coupled with a hugely positive outlook on life, her future career and contributing to the world of distilled spirits.

The joint winners of the Emerging Talent in Spirits award are Alice Pearson and Rachel Sutherland.

The following results have also been announced: