People's Choice Whisky Awards Judges - Pro Panel
Meet the pro judges of the People's Choice Whisky Awards!
Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of Cocktails & Bars, popular online magazine Gourmantic and The Gourmantic Garden. After successful careers in Optometry, Human Resource Management and IT Project Management, she founded Gourmantic in 2009, Cocktails & Bars in 2015 and The Gourmantic Garden in 2020.
Corinne Mossati has been writing about bars, spirits and the food scene for over 12 years, including the rise of the small Sydney bar scene and Australian distilling. After she founded Gourmantic in 2009, she launched Cocktails & Bars in 2015, a niche website dedicated to cocktail culture. Aimed at the discerning drinker, the cocktail/spirit enthusiast including the home bartender, the website features the best bars, spirit reviews, cocktail recipes, cocktail trends and industry news. The website has acquired a large following online and on social media from both trade and consumers.
Corinne is open to all styles of whiskies and spirits. She values whiskies with an inviting aroma that teases on what's to come, a well-balanced and complex palate that ends with a lingering and memorable finish. When she's not tasting and assessing whisky, she's partial to a peated dram with a maritime influence.
Daniel Mathers is the Gauger of the North Brisbane Sept of the Queensland Malt Whisky Society. Dan also assist with organising the Whisky Expo in Brisbane. His role is to procure whisky and present what is usually a themed tasting night to our club members. He loves whisky tastings and attending whisky events all around the country. Dispelling myths or challenging beliefs about what people expect from a particular whisky is what he loves about presenting whisky tastings.
"My favourite whisky profile is one that challenges the perceptions on what you expect purely by knowing what the distillery normally produces or what you read in a review or on the label. This is why I love independent bottlings; they often challenge the norm."
"I highly regard whiskies that have a floral or aromatic bouquet, complexity of flavours on the palate, oily mouthfeel with a long length."
Emma Cookson has been a staple of the Melbourne bar industry for the last 7 years with a passion for whisky which eventually led to her joining the bar team at Whisky & Alement around 2 and a half years ago. From there she has had the opportunity to taste hundreds of different Whiskies from all over the world and has had the chance to travel and meet distillers and makers in the Australian whisky industry as well as beer and wine too.
"For me a whisky needs to be complex enough so that its not one-dimensional, but at the same time be clear and balanced in the flavours and aromas. I love a whisky that makes me think but not one that confuses me!"
"Balance is another thing I really look for in a dram, does it have a consistent story from the nose to the palate and then rounding out the narrative on the finish? These are things that are valuable to me for a good whisky."
Kelvin Low got into whiskies about 10 years ago whilst working at restaurants. He was managing a Japanese restaurant at the time, and got hooked onto Japanese whiskies. Slowly, he learned more about Japanese whiskies, trying as many Japanese whiskies as he possibly could. He also visited all the distilleries in Japan. Lucky for him, there were still plenty of good bottles around that time, and they were not ridiculously priced. He started importing a lot of hard to get bottles from Japan, and at one point in time, the restaurant had the largest collection of Japanese whiskies (for a bar) in Australia. Around the same time, he also got into studying Scotch whiskies as well ... and before he knew it, he was in too deep and he just had to do something more with whiskies - open my own bar.
"I opened The Elysian Whisky Bar in December 2016. My bar is focused on Independent Bottlings, vintage whiskies and interesting bottlings that usually are only available in other countries. I would say 80% of my backbar consists of bottles that are not imported into Australia."
"For me, whiskies are really fascinating as the main ingredients are the same for every distillery - barley, yeast, and water, but yet the flavours that you get from every distillery and every cask can be so different. Plus they come in various bottle shapes and interesting labels!"
"When I drink a whisky, I am always looking for flavour and balance. This "balance" is how the various flavours from the actual spirit itself interacts with the flavours from the cask. It is also how balanced the alcohol is when it hits our palate. Even a whisky with a high ABV could be like silk when it is balanced. I like whiskies that are rounded and coats the whole palate. A "quality" whisky should have fruitiness, sweetness, oiliness and a beautiful nose. Sometimes a whisky could surprise you with some unexpected (good) flavours or elements such as tropical fruits, minerality or waxiness. When those elements are present, that whisky is truly sensational."
Luke McCarthy is an independent writer, author and the publisher of Oz Whisky Review. He wrote a longstanding spirits and cocktail column for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and his writing on drinks, travel and culture has appeared in numerous Australian and international publications.
After many years working as a bartender and educator at Melbourne’s award-winning Whisky & Alement, Luke is now an active spirits judge, presenter and drinks journalist. His book The Australian Spirits Guide, the first on the history and resurgence of the Australian spirits industry, was published in 2016 by Hardie Grant Books.
"My preference is for good whisky – I enjoy all styles. More broadly, I look for whiskies that are balanced, complex, show good integration between cask and spirit, and if they can also say something about where they're from and how they're made, winner."
Todd Morrison is owner and operator of Destination Cellars in Hobart, Tasmania. They focus on artisan spirits, specialising in whisky and love curating consumer events. His goal was to create a store where people could talk about and purchase great products, and find out the story of the people who made them.
"I love a whisky that has balance between spirit and wood with a great texture, and is damn tasty above all."