By Annette Shailer, Rebecca Harris & Deb Jackson

On Thursday, September 14 the liquor industry lost a valued member with the passing of former National Liquor News editor Amy Looker. She died following a short illness.

A quick look at the messages flooding her personal Facebook page demonstrate just how cherished an individual she was, both personally and professionally.

She was incredibly self-deprecating, and while she dedicated more than a decade to booze, she had little idea just how many people in the industry loved her.

Terry Mott, the CEO of the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) worked closely with Amy for many years and says that he will fondly remember her.

“Amy was a pleasure to have worked with and she will be sadly missed by myself and Kate along with the ALSA family and the rest of her industry colleagues.

“I will fondly remember Amy for her insights and passion for our industry sector, for her professionalism in reporting on the important issues that impacted on the industry and also for her sense of fun with relentless dedication to helping us meet deadlines and following up to ensure we contributed to columns and stories by publication time.”

A ferocious reader, Amy’s love of the written word led her to a career in journalism including roles at De Groots and Retail Media. In 2009, she joined The Intermedia Group as editor of National Liquor News, where she was quickly embraced by the wine world.

She was clever, witty and, above all else, an individual. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, and her ‘alooker’ email address was fitting for someone with so much charisma. She quickly made lifelong friends both at work and in the industry, with her warm, cheeky smile and genuinely friendly nature.

It’s not just her incredible personality that should be remembered, she was a brilliant writer and editor, with an impeccable eye for detail. She edited National Liquor News, and contributed to TheShout and the Australian Liquor Industry Awards (ALIA) for six years.

Shane Williams, the general manager sales at The Intermedia Group was a long-time colleague but more importantly a great friend of Amy’s and will always remember her quick, dry wit.

“While at a work event once, Amy was on her mobile phone and said to the person on the other end ‘I may lose you as I’m about to drive through a tunnel’ then held up her hand, went click and hung up. I laughed and said that was a good one to which Amy replied, ‘yeah, especially given I don’t have a driver’s licence’. I laughed again and she said ‘don’t laugh, I’ve done that to you a few times’.

“I worked alongside Amy while she was the face of National Liquor News for six years and there are hundreds more stories to tell. Her quick, dry wit was sharp, cutting and always on the money. Amy made me laugh, a lot. Amy Looker, you were a legend, I love you and I’ll miss you.”

On her last day at Intermedia she was slow-clapped out of the office, such was people’s love and respect for Amy.

So, crack open a bottle of your finest wine, ‘the older the wine, the gooder the wine’ (one of her favourite Black Books quotes, paraphrased), and raise a glass to this wonderful woman, gone way too soon but never to be forgotten.

Funeral arrangements

A celebration of life for Amy Erica Looker will be held next Friday at Pinegrove Crematorium.

Date: Friday, September 29
Time: 1pm
Venue: Pinegrove Crematorium, North Chapel. Kington Street, Michinbury

The Looker family would like to extend an invitation following the service to attend Amy’s wake at the Greystanes Hotel at 3pm to honour and share loving memories.

In lieu of flowers, envelopes will be provided at the service for Amy’s preferred charity, Heartkids.

If you would like to share a comment or a story about Amy with the Looker family, then please feel free to send it through to and I would be happy to pass it on.

Memories from an industry that loved her

“Amy’s job as editor of National Liquor News was to arrange industry wine tastings and as editor of TheShout I was always happy to help – especially in sampling as much wine as possible. Generally, we were left with many bottles of half-drunk wine at the end of these events to be divided up between the judges and Intermedia staff but one Champagne/sparkling wine tasting in Bondi Junction proved problematic. Champagne corks do not easily return to the bottle and it took half an hour and two sharp knives before we left with 12 bottles each primed with makeshift closures. The taxi driver was less than impressed with our cargo and almost drove off the road when the first bump he hit produced a memorable explosion from the backseat. I would like to remember Amy that way: covered in Champagne and weeping with laughter as the corks flew around the cab,” Andrew Starke, managing editor RFi Group and former editor TheShout (2009-2011).

“Amy Looker came roaring into the Australian wine and drinks community with a sparkling energy and approachability that drew in a disparate and colourful array of humans. I hope (and wish) she knew just how loved, admired and enjoyed she was by all of us. Her vivacity, scintillating wit and smarts were underplayed by her open weave approach to life; all accepting, generous, warm, hilarious, comfortable with the flotsam and jetsam as she was with royalty. With little more than the chink of a beer she gifted me my first solid column in National Liquor News – this would form the bedrock for my first foray into freelance life and for that I am very grateful, beyond the friendship that followed. We shared advice, knowledge, and insight over the ensuing years, and for that I am also grateful. Of course, the foundation of friendship had always been the amicability and hijinks that surrounded our professional lives; no one escaped the fun of you. Amy, you lived your life awake, daringly, wonderfully, bravely, and we thank you for being you, to delight, inspire and thrill us. I am so sad to miss you,” Mike Bennie, freelance wine writer and presenter.

“Amy was one of the smartest, funniest people you could ever meet and we fast hit it off when I joined TheShout as editor back in 2011. At that stage I was a relative newcomer to the drinks industry and she eased that transition by being extremely welcoming and inclusive, introducing me to many of her contacts who have also become great mates. She was a talented writer, much moreso than she gave herself credit for – I told her many times she should put her acerbic wit to use as a newspaper columnist! Her loss is tragic and my thoughts are with her family and all her other friends,” James Atkinson, editor Australian Brews News and former editor TheShout (2011-2015).

“Our friendship started at a business lunch eight years ago and before I knew it I’d been recruited for the National Liquor News tasting panel. I thank you for that Amy, my life changed that day. Never one to let good wine go to waste, the panel would take anything that scored gold to a local BYO and ‘practice’ our tasting skills. The Pinot Noir night with the three courses of duck will go down in history. What shenanigans! The endless nights at Bar Reggio, with the obligatory night cap(s) at the cocktail bar. The crew catch ups at Sergio’s, Old Town at Newtown, and Bench Bar. Our hood is not the same without you in it. The Champagne we snuck down to Sydney Park for our long chats in the sun. The weekend walks with your beautiful pug, Olive. For the last few months when I was blessed to have you share my home. The girls miss their ‘Aunty Amy’. They sit in the courtyard in your sunny spot, I’m grateful for that time. Your infectious energy, your vibe, and your effortlessness will be sorely missed. You are the coolest chick I know, I love you, you fabulous babe,” Monique Farrow , Pernod Ricard and a National Liquor News tasting panelist.

“A bright light in a quirky world, quick as a tack, generous, loving and inventive, thanks for being my friend,” Christine Ricketts, The Wine Quarter and a National Liquor News tasting panelist .

“Amy lived each day to the max, she was never one to miss an event and like me, struggled with the concept of going home at a sensible hour. This meant we sometimes shared a taxi home, which always involved us laughing uncontrollably from the city to Newtown. She was quirky and positive, so much fun to be around, loved a good glass of wine (even sharing her gifted bottle late in the evening rather than take it home), she came to the opening of an envelope, stayed until the end and lived life like every day was her last. Maybe she knew something we didn’t. You will be deeply missed Amy,” Kate Kriven, former National Liquor News tasting panelist.

“I have many great memories of Amy, but my best was by far the day she and her mother Rhonda, along with myself encountered the baby zebra, at Livingston Hotel in Zambia. Even though Amy must have contracted every known disease to mankind on this trip, I do remember it being a very memorable and loving trip with her Mum. Her laughter and the delight of the baby zebra was heard all over Zambia, she was smiling like a little child, clapping with awe and excitement. It was a very memorable moment,” Giuseppe Minissale, president ALSA and general manager of Porter’s Liquor.

“Amy was, from the moment we met almost six years ago, an incredibly supportive friend, colleague and mentor. I remember having coffee with my mother after my first day at Intermedia and telling her all about this cool lady I’d met – funnily enough Amy happened to walk past a few moments later and, upon seeing me, promptly plonked herself down to chat with my mother about how excited she was that I was now a part of the team. Our mutual respect and affection only grew and I will always cherish the memories of her blistering wit, industry insight and magnificent side eye – all of which were dished out on a daily basis and certainly helped me get through some tough days. There are so many instances that capture Amy’s unique and gorgeous personality – far too many to commit to words here – though the Monday afternoon we spent at our desks chugging good French Champagne and solving the problems of the universe, while I demolished half a platter of oysters, certainly springs to mind. Amy’s rare panache and fierce loyalty meant that we became incredibly close out of work as well – the kind of friends that consider several bottles of wine and a wheel of cheese in the middle of a lounge room floor while singing Phantom of the Opera at the tops of our lungs a pretty fantastic way to spend a Saturday night. We often joked that we would be the little old ladies sitting at the bar, dressed all in black, abusing the bartenders while sipping our cocktails until late in the night. Amy has been such an integral part of the fabric of my life, I am beyond grateful that she stuck with me through the tough times and the wonderful ones, and I will forever miss that evil giggle that was so uniquely hers,” Stefanie Collins , assistant brand manager at island2island, and former editor bars&clubs and Beer & Brewer.

“By way of introduction, I first met Amy at the Hong Kong Wine and Spirits Fair in 2011 when managing McGuigan Wines’ Asia Pacific business. A wonderful, talented editor. Amy Looker’s commentary and insights were informative and importantly, added value to our category. Amy had a genuine passion for wine and was highly engaged with our winemaking community and the retail trade. This passion, coupled with her strong communication skills, saw Amy become a respected brand ambassador and hero for our category. Highly intelligent with a wonderful sense of humour, warm and endearing and a propensity for fun, Amy was much loved by her peers and colleagues, many of which become her close friends. Her passing is a great loss, but her work and legacy set a benchmark in wine communications and are a shining light for professional women in our industry. Vale Amy Looker. Thank you for sharing your life with us, we will miss you dearly,” Nick Yap, formerly of Australian Vintage Limited and a National Liquor News tasting panelist.

“Amy’s ability to build relationships and communicate are the things I admire about her most. I recall when we would meet how she would tell me of all the great events and adventures she’d had out and about meeting people in the trade while writing for National Liquor News. Maybe it’s the nature of the type of people in our industry but she always had a real interest in what she was writing about and followed some of the successes, hardships and challenges the producers and the trade have experienced over the years with a genuine intention to help and promote. She was a great go-to person for trade updates, what was trending, new developments and her widespread knowledge of the industry was always enlightening and for those of us attached to particular brands or companies, gave perspective. Best of all Amy was fun, she knew how to really enjoy herself and always had amazing (and sometimes hilarious/compromising) stories ‘the morning after the night before’. I know days before ALIA (and certainly for a few days after!) the event had often taken its toll, but as a key organiser of one of the most fabulous trade events of the year, I’m grateful for the energy she put into her role and contribution to our industry. Someone you could always speak plainly to as a friend, with a razor sharp wit and the Crankiest Pug in Sydney, I’ll miss her insight and sense of humour enormously. Cheers Amy, that was way too short,” Beth Dorrough, former National Liquor News tasting panellist.

“Amy was the life of the party – when the lights were low then she was certainly very, very funny, but in a way she was quite serious too. I can remember having many conversations with her on serious industry matters and she just got it. When you’re editing a trade journal you are a part of the industry and Amy just understood and had a deep empathy for it. She had a serious side where the journalist would come through when she was talking about a particular issue and trying to fossick for the story or report on the story. That would be my strongest memory of her – apart from being the life of the party,” Mal Higgs, project manager ALSA.

“My fondest memory of Amy is after a big day at a wine fair in Hong Kong a group of us ended up at a bar in Wan Chai, the kind of bar where girls like to dance around poles on a stage. Well after shouting us a round of drinks and nearly getting kicked out of the bar for laughing so hard, Amy decided to buy the girls in the bar a few drinks, it was only when she got home and checked her credit card statement that she realised those drinks cost her $948,” Daryl Fisher, Fisher Fine Wines and a National Liquor News tasting panellist.

“Working on the PR side of the fence isn’t always easy – however dealing with Amy on the media side always made it such a delight. Professional, warm and just so God damn lovely. I was so incredibly sad to hear of Amy’s passing, it is a tragedy and a massive loss for us all,” Angie Bradbury, managing director Dig+Fish.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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