CRAIG DANIELS – CHAIRPERSON
Craig is the Foundation Chair of the Society from 2002 and was re-elected unopposed in January 2018. Craig has led all four convention organising committees and has a special interest in event development and innovation in membership servicing. His working life mainly encompassed 28 years in public administration across various Federal labour market programs, industry and regional services portfolios. Craig has been involved in whisky connoisseurship since 1991 and is a successful competitor in the National Malt Tasting Competition. He has won the competition four times, most recently in Sydney in July 2014 and previously in 2013, 2008 and a long while ago in 1995 and has placed second in 2000, 2001 and 2010. Craig is internationally recognized for his knowledge and palate, contributing to various whisky websites. He is a proud member of the international internet malt collective, “The Malt Maniacs”, and a long standing member of the Earls of Zetland Malt Tasting Club (1991), the Streah Malt Tasters (1995), the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (2003) and the Macquarie Branch of the Gillies Club (2004). Craig was the panel chair of the Whisky and Rum judging team at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards in 2015 and 2016. Craig is currently pursuing whisky interests as an independent bottler of small batch Australian single malts via Whisky Australia Pty Ltd (brand owner of 3 Souls) and as principal of Clan Drummond, providing sensory evaluation services and writing tasting notes on a professional basis for brown spirits producers, primarily whisky and rum. He has also run malt whisky appreciation evenings and training courses for budding whisky judges. Craig has visited Scotland three times to pursue his personal passion and has photographic evidence of visits to over 80 distilleries. His other favoured whisky destination is Tasmania and he’s visited over 20 different malt whisky distillers there across five trips since 2003. He thinks Australian malt whisky has come a very long way since 2003 and he’s both humble and proud to have played a part in helping kick it along, through the four Conventions, leading development of the ‘Australian Malt Whisky Showcase’ and selecting two Australian distilleries (Overeem and Southern Coast) for our bespoke bottlings. If pressed, he will also acknowledge a growing appreciation of Indian and Japanese single malts and American rye whiskies. While he hasn’t found the perfect whisky yet, he’s come close with Aberlour 1964, Bowmore 1964, Highland Park 1967, Laphroaig 1976, Ardbeg 1977 and Glenmorangie 1972 and Longrow 1990, amongst others and he’s still hot on the trail.
AARON BAXTER – SECRETARY
Aaron works for a software development company providing clinical software support to customers in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK. He has developed a lot of useful IT skills through his engagement and interest in technology and software. Aaron has a keen interest in fine food and drink which has over the last two years expanded into the area of whisky. Aaron has been keen to get involved with clubs and associations in areas of interest to him and he has a particular interest in whisky and food and will join fellow Committee members in developing and hosting whisky and food matching events. Aaron has been involved with the Adelaide University Science Association and Valhalla LAN Parties and was treasurer for both organisations. He was the president of the Adelaide University Stein Club in 2010 and enjoys exposing people to beers they have not previously tried through the club’s regular tasting events. Aaron holds a degree in Economics from The University of Adelaide.
IAN SCHMIDT – TREASURER
Ian carried out his first distillation at about 16 years of age when working with his father making cider. After a long break from distilling that had him serving, briefly, in the Navy, then fishing, sailing, mast making and flagpole making, the wheel has turned the full circle and Ian is back distilling in Adelaide at Southern Coast Distillers. The last few years has seen Ian serving with distinction as the main coordinator of the MWSoA Malt Whisky Awards. Unfortunately a conflict of interests keeps him out of the judging panels but he finds the organizing and the event enjoyable and educational. In the last 5 years and in the process of educating himself in the finer points of distilling Ian has acquired a real passion for malts, of all types. Favourite drams: Southern Coast 002, of course, and Caol Ila 12.
VIANO JAKSA – VICE CHAIRPERSON,
Viano has worked as a professional film editor, as a teacher and lately as an IT consultant. His Italian heritage explains his passion for Alfa Romeo motor vehicles and for wine but there is no genetic explanation for his love of “uisge beatha,” the water of life. Viano’s belief that life is all about the journey and so, after having received a copy of “1001 Whiskies You Must Try Before You Die,” he’s undertaking this challenge with characteristic passion and enthusiasm.
ROGER GILLARD – MARKETING OFFICER
Retired Advertising and Public Relations Consultant. Born and bred in Adelaide of German and English parents. Qualified Mechanical Engineer, but never worked in the field. Roger worked in the photographic industry initially [family involvement] then progressed to senior management in a retail chain and then became State Manager of Advertising and Public Relations for that company. He then took up a position as senior representative of Amex then started an independent advertising/public relations consultancy in Adelaide. Roger’s hobbies & interests include motor racing, malt whisky tasting, golf, gym and travel. He was introduced to scotch whisky by his father in 1961 and for many years he stuck to his formula, which was Haig’s in the short black bottle, but in later years Roger discovered malt whisky. During the last 10 years his interest heightened and he joined several tasting clubs. Roger has also entered tasting competitions, recently reaching the taste offs at the SMWS National Malt Tasting Championship in Sydney 2010, Rob Roy Maltsters Laird 2016 , Club Champion 2014 and 2015.
BOB MANOUGE – MEMBERSHIP OFFICER
Bob is a retired State government employee who first became interested in malt whisky while touring Scotland and Ireland in 2006. The attraction of whisky soon led to him joining two whisky appreciation groups in Adelaide and enjoying the brotherhood and sisterhood of malts that has enhanced his appreciation and knowledge of the spirit.
Another visit to Scotland led to a tour of distilleries throughout the land and its isles. Armed with more confidence in the product Bob has ventured into distilling his own single malts after building his own apparatus. And so begins another adventure into the secrets of whisky making.
The Australian malt whisky industry has established itself on the world whisky map with some well credentialed issues, and it is groups like the MWSoA that fosters the interest in Aussie malt whisky and international malts to an increasing band of enthusiasts.
CRAIG RITCHIE – COMMITTEE MEMBER
Recently retired, Craig was a Risk Management Consultant specialising in Asset Protection and Business Continuity for large corporations.
He has been a member of the Adelaide based Streah Malt Whisky Club since 2001 and is a past club Laird. He was first equal (with Craig Daniels) in the 2005 club championship.
He has read extensively on Whisky and in particular found Goodness Nose, (the passionate revelations of a scotch whisky master blender by Richard Patterson and Gavin D Smith) both instructive and interesting.
Craig has made several trips to Scotland over the past 20 years or so and whilst there has visited many distilleries (both Mainland and the Isles), to gain a better understanding and appreciation of single malt and the industry generally.
He attended the Malt Whisky Society of Australia’s Convention in Adelaide in 2013 which enabled him to connect more closely with all sectors of the Australian malt whisky fraternity and gain wider knowledge. He was invited to join the Judging Panel for the annual Malt Whisky Society of Australia’s Whisky Awards later the same year.
Craig has been an active MWSoA committee member since 2015.
Other interests include playing the bagpipes and in 2017 Craig played at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo (and the World Pipe Band Contest in Glasgow), as a guest player, with The Scots School Albury Pipe Band.
KATE HASLAM – COMMITTEE MEMBER
Having discovered single malts early in her university years, Kate joined the Laird’s Club and was often found enjoying a dram in the Earl of Zetland with her best friend Ali. However, the financial realities of student life meant that her new enthusiasm was left on the back-burner for too many years.
Long work hours in her early career were a further obstacle to dedicated whisky appreciation, but when she encouraged her new boyfriend to share her interest by cutting his teeth on Lagavulin, it was clear that the passion was going to be a shared journey.
Having conducted rigorous research at distillery doors in Scotland, Ireland, Tasmania, Japan and New Zealand, she (with her now-husband) had the opportunity to be involved in whisky judging for the MWSOA with the encouragement of Craig Daniels and enjoyed the challenge this presented her palate. Kate now enjoys sharing stories and whiskies with her comrades in the society, and is looking forward to helping spread the appreciation of fine whisky even further with her involvement on the committee for the first time.
Other enthusiasms include wine, food, planning the next trip to Scotland, and hockey (where there is always a hip flask of Talisker to apply liberally to the interior of any team-mate in case of injury).
PETER GOLOTTA – COMMITTEE MEMBER
“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work. Travel, experience the world and drink some fine whisky along the way….”
This is Peter’s mantra and what makes him the person he is. Peter strongly believes that travelling and experiencing the world will lead to happiness and an appreciation of everyone’s differences. Getting out of our comfort zone and experiencing something new (including whisky), some place different and somewhere you have never been is what we’re born to do.
Peter is very passionate about 3 things; construction, photography and whisky. He is currently a construction project manager from Adelaide that travels Australia for work from time to time, and also a member of the Australian Institute of Building. Peter’s respite from everyday life is:
- to pack his bags and travel to a new destination with his just-as-enthusiastic wife; and
- share fine whisky with friends and family whilst having a good chat.
Peter’s introduction to whisky started at a young age of 13. Raised within an ethnic family, a bottle of Grants Blended Scotch Whisky accompanied with the infamous triangle glass to match, was never too far from his father and grandfather during family gatherings as he sat, watched and listened to them chat. Very fond memories indeed.
Peter has since developed his passion for whisky by attending countless whisky tasting events and conferences across Australia, competed in the Australia Malt Whisky Tasting Championships 2016 (Sydney), networking and investing with many distilleries around Australia, and he is always willing to teach, learn and expand his knowledge with anyone who appreciates a dram.
Peter is an avid collector of rare whisky, and also enjoys dabbling in his own barrel aging and blending process. He shares his experiences with others and relishes mixing both photography and whisky by attending events or tastings and photographing at the same time. He has developed his own website, golottaphotography.com, which showcases places he has visited and his love for travelling the world. Peter intends to increase his portfolio of events to encourage others to enjoy life’s elixir and the responsible drinking of the fine whisky the world has to offer.
Although Peter believes every whisky has a place in one’s life, Peter’s whiskies of choice are The Balvenie 17yo Doublewood and The Balvenie 21yo Portwood.