Emma Cookson is The Whisky List’s Whisky Specialist and Editor, she is also Icons of Whisky’s Whisky Communicator of the Year, one of several Australians to be recognised in this year’s awards.

The Whisky List itself was Highly Commended as Online Retailer of the Year and Melbourne bar, Whisky & Alement was named Bar of the Year.

Emma told The Shout it was “an overwhelming honour to be recognised by Icons of Whisky.”

She added: “I think my win is really a testament to the community here in Australia, the fact that people are so engaged and interested in whisky – locally produced and international – it’s the foundation for what I do.

“This award is definitely a pinnacle moment in my career, and it means so much to me that I even have the opportunity to converse with so many people on both the industry and consumer side and to share my love of whisky with people.”

So what is the key to being a good whisky communicator? According to Emma, it’s “Storytelling and connection. I think that a good communicator is someone who can cut through the fog of marketing and be real with people, ask the tough questions but also highlight the innovation, the uniqueness, and the wonderful aspects of the industry.

“Another important point is to be genuinely excited by what you do, because people pick up on that. I’ve always had a passion for whisky that is reminiscent of a kid in a candy shop, but with a thirst for knowledge that has taken me down some interesting research rabbit holes. And I think that style of presentation has been really beneficial for me, where I can have an in depth factual discussion while still keeping it vibrant and interesting for consumers who feel like they’re coming into my whisky wonderland rather than being talked down to or droned on at.”

Co-Founder of The Whisky List, Oliver Maruda, was understandably delighted with Emma’s win. He told The Shout: “We’re thrilled with Emma’s win as Communicator of the Year for the Rest of the World Icons of Whisky category. Emma excels in making whisky appreciation both enjoyable, educational, and approachable, and it really resonates with our customers. Congratulations on the well-deserved win Emma.”

Looking ahead, Emma said she is very excited about this year will bring.

“I’ll be spending most of this year hosting virtual and in-person tastings, interviewing distillers and reviewing new whiskies,” she told The Shout.

“It changes all the time and I love that about my job! I’ll be travelling across the country with The Whisky Show and stopping by other festivals no doubt, which is always a great opportunity to chat with consumers and learn about local distilleries and brands in each state.

“There’s nothing more special than getting the opportunity to visit these distilleries in person and really immerse myself in the place where the whisky is made. Next month, I’m heading down to Tasmania, essentially the mecca of Australian whisky. I’m looking forward to visiting as many distilleries as possible, and catching up with some local industry legends, including Ally Bhana from Sullivans Cove who is another Icons of Whisky winner this year. It’s going to be a very busy year, but I am so excited for every moment of it.”

Oliver also said the team was delighted with its Highly Commended from Icons of Whisky, saying: “Our passion is simple – to help people discover their next whisky. Achieving second place to industry legends Master of Malt this year highlights the team’s hard work at The Whisky List. It also underscores how much we value collaboration with our partners, bars, retailers and distillers who support our efforts to innovate and promote the thriving Aussie whisky industry.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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