Emerging Talent in Spirits 2024 shortlist

Spirit news

Tue 13 Feb 2024

By Kristen Dougall

The IWSC’s 2024 Emerging Talent in Spirits award is sponsored by Fettercairn Whisky.

This year the IWSC has been blown away by the sheer number of applications we have received for our Emerging Talent in Spirits award. Entries came in from across the globe, from Australia, the USA, India, South Africa and even Rwanda, and many more countries.

Our judges were greatly impressed by the quality of the applications this year, making their job even harder. The judging panel consisted of Kirstie McCallum, Master Blender from our sponsor, Fettercairn Whisky, David T Smith, an independent spirits writer and consultant and IWSC Judging Committee member, Olivier Ward, freelance spirits writer and presenter and IWSC Judging Committee member for our gin category, Matías Luciani, founder of Rosario Whisky Club and the winner of last year’s Emerging Talent in Spirits award and Laura Richards, Club Oenologique’s editorial director.

The 2024 shortlist for the IWSC’s Emerging Talent in Spirits is:


Ally Ayres

Ally is the Co-founder and Head Distiller at Australian-based Karu Distillery. She is self-taught in the production side of her job, broadening her knowledge through travel to fully immerse herself in spirit production. Ally wears many hats for her brand, everything from the distillation process to the nurturing of their fresh botanicals, as well as quality control and the marketing for the brand.

Our judges praised Ally’s progressive outlook on spirits and Australian distilling, and her innovative approach to everything she sets her sights on. Over the 5 years Ally has been co-founder of Karu Distilling, she has brought her positive and curious attitude to her role and our judges believe she is galvanising others around her, as well as making award-winning spirits.


Charlotte Barker

Charlotte is Malt Whisky Brand Ambassador for Diageo GB, and also runs Women’s+ Whisky Nights as a passion project. Through these nights, Charlotte has created a community where guests feel safe to ask questions, taste and learn. Charlotte wants to inspire others, the way she has felt inspired throughout her career, to feel confident about whisky as well as want to be a part of the industry itself.

The passion that Charlotte brings to her role really stuck out to our judges, citing in her application that the attraction to the drinks industry was formed on the idea that it is “where science, craft, and magic comes together”, Our juges were impressed by Charlotte's commitment to inspire and reach out to others within her community.


Harriet Williams

Fresh out of university, Harriet joined her family business, Penrhos Spirits, as Head of Sales. Harriet touches many parts of the business, from sales to marketing to distribution to photoshoots, customer tastings, brokering influencer relationships and partnerships to even supporting the various daily needs of the farm office.

Our judges were so impressed with how progressive Harriet is, already instrumental in the huge changes Penrhos Spirits is making to be more sustainable. Harriet advised her family-business to move from traditional glass bottles to 100% recycled aluminium bottles in 2023, cutting their bottles’ carbon footprint by 91%. The exciting and thoughtful design attracted our judges’ attentions too when they awarded the brand our 2023 Design Award medal for Eco-Friendly packaging.


Rohan Shah

Rohan is the Founder and Distiller of Imizi Rum, Rwanda’s only operational craft distillery. Moving to Rwanda in 2022, Rohan’s vision was to develop products that honoured local terroir, telling the story of the land and its people, and at the same time paid farmers well. Imizi is constantly engaged in upskilling and mentorship. Rohan knows every smallholder farmer that he sources from by name and pays sugarcane farmers triple the commodity price.

Our judges were blown away by how much Rohan has managed to achieve in such a short space of time. Rohan’s commitment to his community is applaudable, giving back to farmers but also Rohan brings his bartending experience to successfully engage with consumers through his monthly pop-up, creating memorable hospitality experiences for them.

Congratulations to our shortlisted entrants. The winner for the IWSC’s 2024 Emerging Talent in Spirits award will be announced on Tuesday 20 February.