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Meet the Judges
 

This year's panel of judges ranges from diverse backgrounds and industry expertise to assess spirits from a variety of different perspectives. Each year, we call on top bartenders to seat them alongside with the top distillers, retailers, writers, and other key industry professionals to taste and evaluate each of our entries.  We are proud of all of the work each of our judges brings to the table to help grow the New Orleans Spirits Competition.

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Tiffanie Barriere

Educator/ Consultant/ Bartender
Drinking Coach

Tiffanie Barriere is the bartender’s bartender, an influencer and educator who has been awarded with some of the beverage industry’s highest honors. She is a Tastemakers of the South award-winner who spent seven years as the beverage director of One Flew South, the “Best Airport Bar in the World.” Tiffanie is a member of the Tales of the Cocktail Grants Committee, the James Beard Beverage Advisory Board, and a member of the Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier.

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Paul Clarke

Editor in Chief, Imbibe
 

Paul Clarke is a journalist specializing in spirits, cocktails, and the culture of drink. In 2014, he earned a Spirited Award for Best Cocktail Writer. Clarke wrote “The Cocktail Chronicles: Navigating the Cocktail Renaissance with Jigger, Shaker and Glass” (2015), and was a contributing editor for “The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails” (2021). He holds a WSET Level 3 Certification in Spirits and is a WSET Certified Spirits Educator.

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Peggy Noe Stevens

PNSA Founder and President

Author, global speaker, whiskey taster and experience maker, Peggy Noe Stevens has devoted over thirty years to hospitality, entertaining and developing spirit brand destinations. She became the world’s first female Master Bourbon Taster and traces her lineage to some of the great Kentucky bourbon-making families. In 2019, she was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame and in 2020, the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame. Peggy was also one of the originators for the conception and strategic development of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
 

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Chantal Tseng

Bar-Somm, the Gibson and cocktailsforendtimes.com

Chantal Tseng is a veteran bartender with Sommelier training working in the greater D.C. area for over twenty years. She is the current Sherry Week Ambassador for the U.S. and runs a website: cocktailsforendtimes.com where she posts updates, events, writes articles and other pertinent info for cocktail and wine consulting. Her current passion includes book clubs, literary-inspired cocktails, absinthe, and of course, always sherry.

ms. franky marshall

Modern Bartender ~ Educator ~ Consultant

franky has worked at some of the top establishments in New York City. She is highly sought after for her liquid creations, valuable industry insights, and many opinions, which have been widely featured across various media. She is an in demand speaker, event host, and judge for spirit and cocktail competitions in the U.S. and abroad. franky is excited to be a returning judge for the NOLA Spirits Comp.

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Benjamin Padrón Novoa

Co Founder
Licoreria Limantour

Benjamin Padrón Novoa it's a Co-Founder of Licoreria Limantour, could be the bar that develop and created the culture of the cocktails in Mexico and maybe we can said in Latin America. Licoreria Limantour has been awarded by Best International Bar Team (2019) and Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar (2020) by Tales of the Cocktail

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Geoffrey Wilson

Leadership Staff
Turning Tables NOLA

If you know Geoffrey; you’d know that he’s a good friend and a staunch believer in equality, visibility, and diversity in the hospitality industry. He’s also a talented and creative bartender and is on the leadership staff at Turning Tables New Orleans. Geoffrey has spent more than a decade working at some of the best bars across the country, such as Ocotillo in Phoenix, and Multnomah Whiskey Library in Portland.

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Molly Wellmann

Owner/Operator
Molly Wellmann LLC.

Molly is an award winning Mixologist and former bar owner in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. Her focus is on classic cocktails from the 1700’s-1950’s. Molly is also an Executive Bourbon Stewart through “Stave and Thief”. She is a writer having written for Bourbon+ Magazine , and her book “ Hand Crafted Cocktails”. Molly now owns her own consulting and entertainment business, Molly Wellmann LLC.

Matthew Rowley

Writer

The author of Lost Recipes of Prohibition (2015), Moonshine! (2007), and the Whiskey Forge blog (2008-15), Matthew has written about culinary history, spirits, and cocktails for numerous publishers, magazines, and universities. The former museum curator is a contributing editor to The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails (2021); contributor to Imbibe, Distiller, Whisky Advocate, and other publications; and judge for several annual spirits and media awards programs such as the James Beards Awards and The Spirited Awards for Tales of the Cocktail.

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Sother Teague

Beverage Director
Overthrow Hospitality

Other Teague is the author of “I’m Just Here For The Drinks,” and host of The Speakeasy Podcast. He is the beverage director of the famed bar Amor y Amargo.

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Lee Hedgmon

Owner, The Barreled Bee; CoPack Specialist, Conspirator Beverage

Lee Hedgmon's interest in all things fermented, making wine, mead, cider and beer, led to her to work at a craft brewery in 2009. Moving to spirits in 2016, Lee was a distiller at McMenamins Edgefield, and Freeland Spirits, where she experimented with creating unique flavors and translating traditional cocktails into canned form. Lee founded The Barreled Bee in 2017, bringing together love of honey, distilled spirits, and barrel character.

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Garnett Phillip

Bar Owner of The Rogers Garden and The Rum Bar BK (opening 4/26/23)

Garnett is a distinguished, forward-thinking entrepreneur that has been honored to recreate something symbolic for the many immigrants who had hopes of achieving the "American Dream." One means of spreading her message is enlightening people on history with a strong focus on rum and tradition. She focuses on developing a platform of expression, speaking not just to New York City but especially to the Caribbean people!

Karen Hoskin

Distillery owner and founder

Karen Hoskin founded Montanya Distillers in 2008 and became an important player the renaissance of premium rum in the USA over the last 15 years. Her Colorado best rum distillery is a certified B, Corp. and sources all of its sugar cane from Louisiana. Her newly expanded distillery now ships throughout the US as well as the UK and EU.

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Elayne Duff

Founder
 

Elayne Duff is the founder of the Beverage Brand Ambassador Academy, a pioneering online program that provides on-boarding and advanced skill training for Brand Ambassadors and new sales reps in the beverage industry. With over 20 years of experience in the field, Elayne has held several key positions, including being the first head mixologist and National Brand Ambassador for Diageo USA. Elayne is an award-winning luxury brand ambassador, mixologist, and educator.

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Bridget Albert

Sr. Director External Communications, SGWS

Bridget is the Founder of the National Charity Foundation of the United States Bartenders' Guild, the world's largest contributor to the cocktail culture. She has designed beverage programs and produced trainings for top national Accounts that include the Hilton Worldwide Resorts,  Delta Airlines, American Airlines and Crystal Cruise Line. Bridget is the co-author of “Market Fresh Mixology” and “Life, Love Happiness and Cocktails” and the co-hostess on the celebrated Served Up the Podcast.

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Michael Vachon

Co-Founder
Maverick Drinks

Michael is co-founder of Maverick Drinks, a specialist drinks-distribution company, which has helped countless craft-drinks brands to scale globally. Maverick Drinks’ disruptive approach to brand building saw the business win multiple awards before being acquired in 2018 by ZX Ventures ( as part of Atom Group). As a founder, he understands the challenges early-stage businesses face and advises other innovative drinks brands on growth, bringing his network and route-to-market experience to help them scale.

Roland K Ng

President and Founder

Roland Ng is President of the San Francisco Whiskey, Bourbon, and Scotch Society, the largest spirits enthusiast group on the West Coast and a Co-Founder of Fog City Social.  A recognized international authority on Japanese Whisky, he is a sought after restaurant and bar consultant, speaker, and educator on the subject. Roland has judged global spirits competitions including the San Francisco World Spirts Competition, Singapore World Spirits Competition and is honored to judge the New Orleans Spirits Competition.

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Lauren Patz

Head Distiller
Redwood Empire Whiskey

Lauren Patz has been distilling since 2013 and is the Head Distiller for Redwood Empire Whiskey, in Graton, CA. Her love of the food and beverage industry comes from growing up in the Napa Valley in a wine-making family. Lauren looks for opportunities to act as a resource to the distilling community and further her own knowledge of the art and science of spirit production. Her distilling mantra is passion, palate, and patience.

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Danny Ronen

Founder
DC Spirits

Danny Ronen is the Founder and CEO of DC Spirits, a US-based food, wine and spirits educational organization. Ronen enjoys conducting recipe and product development, event planning, staff education and brand-building for such companies as Moet-Hennessy, Pernod-Ricard, Diageo, Campari, Anchor Distilling, Heaven Hill, Brown-Forman, Monin, Fair Trade USA, Novo Fogo Cachaça Organica and Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals.

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Tracie Franklin

Founder
Get Spirited Consulting

Tracie Franklin is changing the face of whiskey and creating a more diverse industry. She is an internationally recognized spirits educator, consultant, distiller, and social media personality. She has represented numerous brands including; Rhum Clément, Angels Envy, Ardbeg, Glenmorangie and was the National Ambassador for Glenfiddich Scotch. She has numerous wine and spirits certificates and is a candidate for her diploma in distillation from IBD. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others.
 

H. Joseph Ehrmann

Proprietor of Elixir

As the 12th Proprietor of San Francisco’s second oldest saloon, ELIXIR (now in his 20th year of business), H. is recognized as a pioneer in the revitalization of cocktail culture today. He is also an internationally renowned spirits expert, judge, and educator. Besides his saloon, he runs a cocktail event production company (ELIXIR To Go), a beverage industry consultancy (Cocktail Ambassadors), a fresh cocktail mixer company (Fresh Victor), and an independent bottler of unique spirits (Kokoro Spirits).

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Ashley Barnes

Master Blender
The Spirits Group

Ashley Barnes is the master blender for multiple whiskey brands. She is an expert in quality, flavor profile management and development, fermentation and distillation as it relates to flavor development and maturation.

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Laura Cullen

Founder, Liberty Consulting

Laura Cullen founded Liberty Consulting driven by the idea that core values including work ethic, inclusion and the desire to affect meaningful change in the hospitality industry should be an integral part of any business strategy. Laura is currently working with her clients to give them the freedom to succeed and the liberty to pursue happiness.

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Nikki Preiss Geyer

Partner
Preiss Imports

Preiss Imports Co-Founder, Nikki Preiss Geyer, brings business acumen from her years in the specialty imports business along with a passion for the culinary arts. Holding both a business and a culinary degree, Nikki is proud to advance the Preiss pedigree of innovation and dedication in bringing exclusive specialty spirits to the United States.
 

Scott Blackwell

Co-Owner
High Wire Distilling Co.

Serial entrepreneur Scott Blackwell has built innovative culinary ventures from pie maker, restaurateur, and coffee roaster to commercial baker. Scott’s passion for blending creativity with high-quality ingredients lead him to found High Wire Distilling Co, in Charleston, SC.  Scott was a semifinalist/finalist for the James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

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Larry Rice

Partner at
Stupid Good

"Hospitality, spirits, and bar specialist for the better part of 30 yrs. With a focus on American whiskey and classico bar technic.
Opened a couple pretty cool joints along the way."

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Keli Rivers

Sr Beam Suntory Gin Brand Ambassador

A hospitality veteran of over 31 years, Keli has traveled the world working in
kitchens and bars. Launching prestigious cocktail bars throughout The Bay Area,
Transitioning into an ambassador role in
2018, Keli has been spreading the gospel of juniper-driven beverages as the
award-winning Senior Brand Ambassador for Sipsmith. Author of 3, soon to be 4 cocktail novellas, international spirits judge and Gin Magazine’s Iconic Awards; Gin Ambassador of the Year (2021) - to say she likes gin is a gross understatement. "

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Brett Pontoni

Specialty Spirits Buyer
Binny's Beverage Depot

Brett Pontoni is a 30-year retail veteran with Binny's Beverage Depot, 22 years as a buyer. He has strong connections across categories in the spirits world, and was a very strong early supporter of the craft beer and craft spirits space. Pontoni is a 2021 Whisky Magazine Icons of Whisky award winner.

 

Andrew Friedman

Founder, Industry Spirits. 
Partner, Society Wine & Spirits

Having sold his Seattle cocktail bar, Liberty, opened in 2006, after 12 years, to his co-workers, Andrew started Industry Spirits - a bartender-owned wells portfolio brand.  Other fun stuff - a co-founder/ex-VP of the Seattle Distiller's Guild, co-founder and ex-pres of the Washington Bartender's Guild and ex-VP of Education of the USBG. 
Love my hospitality fam. 

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Monica Wolf

Managing Partner
The Spirits Group

Monica co-founded The Spirits Group - a distilled spirits consulting firm, focused on whiskey related business strategy, operations and quality control.  From barrel modeling and forecasting to profiling and blending, they offer a suite of services that ensures quality on both the production and business side of the industry. Monica specializes in strategic plan and pro forma development for whiskey brands and distilleries, sales forecasting and related barrel modeling, bulk whiskey sales and distillery/aging inventory valuations.

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Lynnette Marrero

Partner & Chief Mixologist @ Delola , Liquid Creative Director Aplós

Bartending guru, women’s industry champion, educator, inclusivity advocate, mentor, philanthropist and of course, craft cocktail savant - you may also recognize Lynnette Marrero as the Latiné co-creator of the Speed Rack international women+ bartending competition, the MasterClass Mixology teacher, as well as the mixologist behind JLo’s new line of read-to-drink Delola beverages.

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Brian Christensen

Editor & Publisher
Artisan Spirit Magazine

Brian is a co-founder of Artisan Spirit Magazine, The Journal of Distilling Science, the Still Talking Podcast, and the Society of Spirit. Artisan Spirit Magazine is one of the largest and most read distilling trade publication in America and is circulated in 44 countries around the world. He is passionate about distilling education, industry safety, and consumer outreach. Brian also sits on several advisor boards and committees within the distilling industry, and judges in spirits competitions.
 

Lisa Wicker

CEO
Master Distiller

CEO/Master Distiller beginning November, 2022,  for Lexington Brewing and Distilling in Lexington and Pikeville, Kentucky, Dublin and Dundalk, Ireland. Previous five and a half years, President and Master Distiller at Widow Jane in Brooklyn, New York, distilling in Kentucky and New York. Senior Consulting Distiller for George Washington's Distillery for seven years.

Jason Heiligenberg

Winemaker/Distiller 
Huber Winery/Starlight Distillery

Jason is a husband and a father of three.

He began his career in beverage alcohol production in 1998. Jason has been dedicated to crafting delicious wines and spirits at Huber Winery/Starlight Distillery for more than two decades.

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Sother Teague

Beverage Director
Overthrow Hospitality

Sother Teague is the author of “I’m Just Here For The Drinks,” and host of The Speakeasy Podcast. He is the beverage director of the famed bar Amor y Amargo.

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Vivian Pei

Founder
Snacky Mini Mart

Vivian Pei, an F&B industry veteran, champions global hospitality through roles in social impact and mentorship programs like Speed Rack and Tales of the Cocktails, and the World's 50 Best Bars. She founded the Singapore Cocktail Bar Association, offering vital aid to struggling businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Vivian is an author, culinary instructor, and mother of two, expanding her ventures with the launch of Snacky Mini Mart in Iowa.

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