Meet the Team

Board of Directors

Hayden Zou

Managing Director

Hayden has extensive experience managing China based operations for a number of International companies. Hayden understands the differences between western business and the unique operating environment of China, and knows how to bring these two different business cultures together in harmony.

Hayden is our Managing Director and has led the delivery of our project from concept through to operational capability.  He is also a member of the Board of Directors.  Hayden can be contacted  on LINKEDIN.

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Simon Szewach

Investment Director

Simon has a long and impressive history in Finance and Investing. He is the Managing Partner of the Legats Group, an Australian based group that invests and works with leading edge companies that showcase innovative technologies and IP. The Legats Group holds investments in 20+ companies across 5 continents.

Simon is our Investment Director and his experience in the world of investment has helped lead our project from an energetic idea into a serious commercial business.  Simon can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Jeff Olyniec

Deputy Chair

Jeff has more than 20 years experience in China, and has built a number of different companies across many different industries including a successful Shenzhen stock market listing. Jeff currently holds board positions at 10 different companies with 8 of them based in China.

Jeff is a founder, a board member, and a significant investor in the Nine Rivers Distillery.

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Jay Robertson

CEO and Founder

Jay has extensive experience working in both the technology industry and the alcohols industry. This cross over led to Jay being the founder of a network of online wine and liquor retail platforms, one of which was a catalyst for Nine Rivers Distillery.

Jay is our CEO and a member of the Board of Directors. His skills and experience across alcohols, sales and technology are all relevant in leading the Nine Rivers Distillery Team. You can contact Jay on LINKEDIN.  

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Stephen Davies

Chairman

Stephen led the team that brought whisky distilling back to Wales after more than 100 years absence. Stephen continues to lead that team as CEO of The Welsh Whisky Company and has won numerous international awards for Penderyn Single Malts.

Stephen is a Chairman for Nine Rivers Distillery and his experience with The Welsh Whisky Company has strategic influence on how our Board of Directors will lead this project.  Stephen can be contacted on  LINKEDIN.

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Board of Advisors

JAN BRONI

Investor

Jan has been in China for more than 13 Years where he leads a number of companies and concurrently is President of Meyra-Netti Asia and Chairman of the Board of the Danish Chamber of Commerce in South China.

Jan is a true whisky lover across all styles and categories. He's keen to start working with micro-casks and rapidly ageing whiskies at home to his own tastes. He can be contacted on  LINKEDIN.

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Jonathan Dahan

Founder

Jonathan has extensive experience working in the wines and spirits industry. He has been Export Director Asia for a few leading European wine and spirits producers for the past 15 years. Additionally, he is also a founder and managing partner for one of the major wine importers in China. Jonathan is a Senior Advisor and a

member of the Board of Directors due to his understanding of both the local and the international markets. Jonathan’s insights and experience are crucial in building our national and overseas sales network.  Jonathan can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Founders

Liam McShane

Founder

Liam is the Sales and Marketing Director for a large OEM tech manufacturer with operations in 3 countries and distribution worldwide. Liam is also an avid whiskey and whisky collector with a long time appreciation for good whiskies and was one of the whisky lovers that helped create the monthly whisky social night that was the catalyst for the Nine Rivers Distillery project. 

Liam is a huge fan of the Irish styles of whiskey and the triple distillation technique.  You can contact Liam on LINKED IN.

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SHAUN MILLARD

Founder

Shaun is a restaurant bar owner and hi-tech program manager with a talent for “fire fighting” to get through complex issues and create scaleable solutions, from finished goods to component parts and everything involved. Shaun was one of the whisky lovers that helped create the monthly whisky social night that was the catalyst for the Nine Rivers Distillery project.

Shaun is a big fan of Bourbon and Irish Whiskeys and is keen for us to include sherry finished whiskies in the Nine Rivers Distillery range. Shaun can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Lee Beaudoin

Founder

Lee is a hi-tech hardware engineer with a talent for leveraging his vast network in China for rapid prototyping and manufacturing of products that target the western market. From drones to vapes and everything in-between. Lee was one of the whisky lovers that helped create the monthly whisky social night that was the catalyst for the Nine Rivers Distillery project. 

Lee is a big fan of Islay styles of scotch and is keen for us to include peated whiskies in the Nine Rivers Distillery range as soon as possible.  You can contact Lee on LINKED IN.

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Vinay Dayaram

Founder

Vinay is a third-generation textiles and clothing entrepreneur, producing clothing for international brands through factories across China. Vinay was one of the original team of whisky enthusiasts from the monthly whisky networking events that were the starting point of Nine Rivers Distillery way back in 2015. 

Vinay is a big fan of the more modern styles of whisky from India.  Subtropical maturation environments and multiple cask finishes are his personal preference.  You can contact Vinay on LINKEDIN

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Mudy M. Ghulam

Founder

Mudy has been living and working in China for more than a decade and specialises in logistics.  He currently leads the sales team at an international logistics and freight forwarding company and is based in Shenyang. A passionate whisky lover, Mudy started whisky themed events in Shenyang and built a monthly professional networking event around whisky tastings. 

Mudy has a diverse interest and enjoys sherry cask finishes, American bourbon styles, and Japanese blends.  Mudy can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Lucas Driggers

Founder

Lucas decided to make China his home back in 2007. Since then, he has worked in education and started an education consulting company. Always having a strong love of bourbon and other American whiskies, in May 2018, Lucas took his passion for whisk(e)y a step further by hosting tasting events across Wuhan at numerous locations - even winning awards for his entertaining and educational events.

As a founder of Nine Rivers Distillery, Lucas is determined to be one of the first people in China to be sharing Nine Rivers whiskies with China.  Lucas can be contacted on  LINKEDIN.

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Aimee McBride

Founder

Aimee has been in China since 2015 and brought her love of whisky with her, initially to Wuxi in Jiangsu, before settling in Shanghai where she teaches psychology.  Aimee has been part of the whisky community that underpins the Nine Rivers Distillery project from literally the day that she first got off the aeroplane. 

Aimee is a big fan of lightly peated scotch style whiskies.  You can contact Aimee on LINKEDIN.

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CJ Bowman

Founder

CJ was an early founding member of our whisky community in China when he was based in Beijing for more than 3 years.  While CJ no longer lives in China, whisky and Chinese culture are two things he will always be closely aligned to.  CJ is currently based in Vietnam and will be leading one of our first export markets as we

take Nine Rivers Distillery alcohols to our neighbours and close friends of China.  Another peated whisky fan.  CJ can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Vince Ngai

Founder

Vince was born in Scotland so whisky really is part of his heritage - he brought his passion for whisky to China more than 10 years ago when he decided to live the other half of his heritage by moving to China.  Hosting whisky events across his new home province of Guangdong helped bridge both cultures, something that Nine Rivers Distillery will continue to do through crafting whisky. 

Vince is firmly bound to his love of peated whiskies and would love to see Nine Rivers Distillery start floor maltings and peat smoke drying barley.  He can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Stephen Alexander

Founder

Stephen has been in China since 2015 and brought his love of whiskey (with an "e" as every Irishman would argue) with him.  As an airline captain, Stephen has traveled all over the world, exploring almost every style of whiskey (and whisky) on offer and so his mature and refined palate is a big asset to the project. 

Stephen is a bourbon fanatic but also very loyal to triple distilled Irish styles with sherry casks.  He can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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L.David Kruse

Founder

Dave has more than 16 years of experience working in China and as a bridge between China and North American markets.  He's currently the President of Global Sales for an American led, China-based, hi-tech displays manufacturing company.  Dave is a bourbon and rye drinker and will be one of the driving forces behind our own

exploration into high corn and high rye mash bills to craft whiskies.  Dave can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Sasha Fu

Investor

Sasha is quite unique to the team in the sense that she is a crusader for the relevance of blended malt whiskies and how the art of blending is massively overlooked and ignored in recent times, over the growing popularity of the single malt category.

Sasha would be keen to see us open more than one distillery in China and be able to demonstrate how blended whiskies can be a far more appealing product to a vast market such as China.  Sasha can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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BEEJAN SOHEILI

Investor

Beejan comes from the west coast of the US. He first came out to China to get closer to the manufacturing hub of the world in 2013 and has been living in Shenzhen ever since.

He can be found around town with a glass of Lagavulin 16 in hand. Beejan can be contacted on  LINKEDIN.

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Maarten Roos

Investor

Maarten is originally from the Netherlands but has been in China since 1999. He founded the Chinese law firm R&P in 2010 and continues to provide legal support and representation to international companies and expatriates in China - including many whisky lovers. Maarten’s passion is to help start-ups conquer the Chinese market.

Though he loves the occasional glass (or more) of Baiju (Chinese liquor) he strongly believes that Chinese consumers are ready to expand their horizons to whisky. He can be contacted on  LINKEDIN.

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Eric Pallas

Founder

Eric has been in China for almost a decade where he has carved out a name and reputation as a skilled and creative mixologist, having been the creative catalyst behind the launch and success of a number of leading F&B concepts in Shenzhen.

Like everyone else involved in this project, Eric is a lover of whisky, however, he's also a fan of rum and rhum in all it's styles and is keen to see how we craft and mature our own rhum agricole with China cultivated sugarcane.  Eric can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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SADHWANI NIKHIL SUNIL

Investor

Nik was born and raised in Hong Kong SAR where he works as an airline pilot. His travels give him the good fortune to see the world where he has been lucky enough to find relatively unique unknown brands in places such as Japan, Ireland, and Australia.

Nik prefers single malt Scotch although bourbon is nice too on occasion. Nine Rivers is an excellent starting point into the world of distilling and Nik hopes to expand his knowledge of it with this investment. Nik can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Christopher Grewcock

Investor

Chris has been in China since 2009 in education and also has a back ground in sales and merchandising from the U.K. Chris is a Japanese whisky drinker, but likes to sample a dram or two from anywhere new.

He feels it is exciting to be an investor in China's first homegrown whisky distillery and be able to learn about more types of whisky and broaden his whisky tastes. Christopher can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Darryl Swan

Investor

Darryl is a multimedia designer specialising in graphic design, packaging design, corporate branding, and marketing media. Based in Shenzhen for over a decade, Darryl and his team have worked on creative projects for both local and international brands - from startups to Fortune 500's.

Darryl enjoys a good whiskey and coffee, but not necessarily at the same time. He can be reached on LINKEDIN.

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Richard Hinchman

Investor

Richard came to China in 2014, initially working as an instructor for the Walt Disney Company on the Guangzhou side. He has worked as a geography teacher in Guangzhou Nanfang International School and Alcanta International College.

Richard dares to experiment with different styles of whisky. He is excited to be part of the distillery as it will give him more exposure to different flavours and the wonderfully interesting world of whisky. Richard can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Brian O’Donovan

Founder

Brian has been involved in the golfing industry for his entire life. After qualifying as a golf professional in 2013 at the University of Birmingham and then becoming a PGA qualified golf professional, Brian relocated to China.

Currently the lead instructor at Mission Hills Golf in Shenzhen, Brian is passionate about most styles of whisky and an active member of the Shenzhen whisky community.  Brian can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Investors and Ambassadors

DANIEL Hobbs

Founder

Daniel has been in China since 2012 having spent much of his time working in Nanjing and then Shenzhen where he currently teaches mathematics and physics.

He is also part of the growing whisky networking scene in China. He can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Navin Alwani

Founder

Navin has spent more than 20 years in China where he has built a successful business around textiles and fashion.

Navin can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Simon Gibbons

Founder

Simon is a Logistics Supply Chain and Purchasing Professional from the UK. Simon came to China in 2016 and resides in Wuhan, Hubei.

Simon has been an active member of the Wuhan whisky community for a number of years and has a passion for whiskies hailing from less traditional regions, such as Wales, India and Australia.  Simon can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Jean-Pierre PREEZ

Investor

Jean-Pierre is a South African entrepreneur and CEO of a cross-border product procurement firm. He has been a guest speaker and African representative at a number of Trade and Commerce events held across China.

He is a sherry-cask fanatic and can't wait for Nine Rivers to start producing his prefered whisky. He can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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MISCHA VEENHUYSEN

Investor

Mischa is the son of a Dutch immigrant who married an Irish-American. He is a University of Michigan graduate turned kindergarten teacher who’s been a resident of China for over 9 years now. He also is a connoisseur of drink and food and enjoys a good conversation over a glass. A handyman to the core and an avid outdoorsman,

he feels right at home working with his hands and sleeping in a hammock under the stars. He said it was exciting to be an investor in China's first homegrown whisky distillery. MISCHA can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Sebastian Fabre

Investor

Sebastian is a wine professional that has been working in the China wine industry for more than 6 years. He currently manages one of the most interesting wine portfolios in South China and leads a team that sells and markets these wines.

Sebastian has been an advocate of whisky for more than 10 years and combines a duel love of both Islay styles and Highland styles. Sebastian can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Uwe Lemanik

Investor

Uwe is German origin, but already living nearly twenty years in China. As a shoe industry professional expert his way took him to many different places in China. Uwe not only has an impressive collection of fine Whiskies – he also enjoys them, usually those with a sweeter tone.

Now he’s just waiting for the first Nine Rivers Distillery collectibles to add to his displays and drinking shelves.

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Graham Bannerman

Investor

Graham made China his home more than 20 years ago and as a Scotsman he brought with him his passion for Scotch whisky. Graham also started a number of whisky themed events in Tianjin in June 2018 which he continues to host and share his knowledge of whisky with anyone that is interested to learn.

While quietly devoted to his love of Islay style whiskies, Graham will give any whisky a fair chance to get a place on his whisky shelf.  Graham can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Mitchie Perine

Founder

Mitchell has a career in packaging design with the last decade of this career being based in Guagndong, China.

He concurrently owns and manages his own live music bar in Dongguan.

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Travis James NEWING

Investor

Travis is a whisky enthusiast from Melbourne, Australia, who currently lives in Wuhan, Hubei province. Travis preferred non-peated whisky at first, but now he has come to enjoy whisky from all of Scotland's regions.

As Travis has continued along his whisky journey, he wanted to know more about the distilling and production process of whisky, so becoming an investor in the Nine Rivers Distillery Project was the perfect opportunity. He can be contacted on  LINKEDIN.

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HENRY WOLFF

Investor

Henry is from Denmark and came to China in 2014. He has undertaken roles in trading companies, manufacturers, and government departments - typically related to international business and international relations.

Henry has a diverse palate for whisky, enjoying all styles.

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LUCAS WETTON

Investor

Lucas Wetton is a Kentucky boy from the United States. He earned his Bachelor of Arts diploma from Centre College, and then spent five years working with the family environmental products manufacturer PFC Group. During that time, he lived in Wuhan, China for three years, and oversaw projects throughout Mexico and in a number of grain distilleries throughout Kentucky.

He is a Juris Doctor candidate at Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, Tennessee. While his first love will always be bourbon, he loves a glass of Balvenie or Big Peat Small Batch. He can be contacted on  LINKEDIN.

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Adam Timcke

Founder

Adam is a teaching professional with more than 12 years experience - the last 5 years based in China.

Adam is a big Islay fan and enjoys complex peated single malts.

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Tony Avila

Founder

Tony has been in China since 2008 where he has spent most of his career working in the F&B industry as an owner and manager of bars and restaurants.

Tony prefers bourbon and will use his extensive network in the industry to support the distribution and sales of Nine Rivers Distillery products. Tony can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Brock Oborn

Investor

Brock has been based in China for just over 3 years. He is currently the director of product development for a contract manufacturing company that creates innovative products for clients all over the world.

Brock is a big fan of Speyside whisky and also occasionally some bourbon. Brock can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Chris Bear

Founder

Chris has been in China since January 2012, starting in education and now a Regional Manager for Duvel Moortgat, managing 3 provinces across the South West of China.

Chris has a fondness for Japanese whiskies.

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Eric Liang

Founder

Eric lives in Guangdong, China, where he works as a designer and manufacturer of display mannequins for sale and distribution across the world.

Eric enjoys sherry cask matured whiskies paired with a fine cigar.

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Fabien Dupont

Founder

Fabien is originally from France and has been based in Guangdong as a product designer since 2015. It was in Shenzhen that he discovered not only the diversity and subtlety of whisky, but more importantly, that whisky is uneventful without interesting international whisky lovers to enjoy it with.

Fabien developed a preference for Islay whiskies, but still loves to explore. His participation in the creation of unique whisky with Nine Rivers Distillery was a natural continuity.

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John Zois

Investor

John has been in China for more than 4 Years where he has worked in the education sector, focussing on adult learning and business communications.

John is keen to work across his own social networks, bringing more converts to the wonders of whisky.

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Mark Bentley

Founder

Mark migrated to China in 2014 after short spells in Korea and Vietnam. First teaching Business Studies in Beijing before moving to Suzhou where he lives with his family and teaches English and Social Science.

Before teaching Mark, was a manager of a U.K. wine and spirit store where he gained knowledge and passion for the industry, including training by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. He is a familiar face on the Suzhou food and drink scene and regularly hosts wine and whisky pairing dinners. His favourite whisky is from his native Wales but he also enjoys heavily peated Islays.  Mark can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Ray Rushton

Founder

Originally from Liverpool in the UK with a background as a health care specialist, Ray first came to Asia in 2006 before settling in China in 2013 where he works as an education specialist.

Ray has a passion for Irish whisky and hopes that the patented QRRS stills of Nine Rivers Distillery can achieve the same smoothness as his favourite triple distilled whiskies from Ireland.

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Jason Will

Founder

Originally from Australia, Jason has been based in Asia since 1999 and in China since 2017 with a career spanning more than 2 decades in international relocations and logistics. Jason is currently country manager for an industry leader in this field.

Jason is very much a scotch lover with a passion for all styles.  Jason can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Christian Gassner

Founder

Christian is the Director and Chair at the European Chamber South China in charge of factories producing electronic consumer goods in the highest volume and quality under the Japanese Kaizen principles.

With over 20 years experience in the manufacturing industry, he has a profound knowledge of mechanical engineering production technologies in addition to strong leadership.  Christian is a big fan of Islay whiskies.  Christian can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Alessandro Alviani

Founder

Ale has been in China since 2012 working as the GM of a company that imports sintered stone slabs to China.

Ale joined the Nine Rivers Distillery project due to a lifelong love of whisky.  His preferences lean towards peated whiskies.

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Uli Gittinger

Founder

Uli is originally from Germany, although now based in Ireland. Uli is an Airline Captain and has been flying all over the world for the past 20 years.

With a background both in Aviation and the hospitality sector Uli acquired the taste for whiskies from both behind and in front of the bar.

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Simon Jenkinson

Founder

Simon arrived in to Shenzhen from the UK back in 2007. Working in the electric linear motion industry for the last 20 years, he heads up the worlds largest producer for China.

Simon is a fan of the lighter delicate whiskies of Speyside, Japan, and Ireland.  Simon can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Thomas Zuehlke

Founder

Thomas came to Asia in 1982 where he started his own business From there, he made his way through Asia, living in Indonesia, Vietnam, and China. He is now working in consumer goods.

Thomas' preferences lean toward fine Speyside whiskies and looks forward to seeing Nine Rivers producing spirits of similar quality. He can be reached on LinkedIn

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Phillip Stout

Founder

Phillip comes from Houston but has made Shenzhen his home for the past decade. He's made a career out of his degrees in Chinese studies and education.

Phil is currently completing his doctorate in education at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has a preference towards newer world, modern styles of whisky.

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Dan Agundes

Founder

Dan came to China in 2005 to start his own snowboard factory and push the limits of construction and design for skis and snowboards. Currently, he is President of the Snow Sports Division (GP87 Inc) at the Quiver Sports Group.

Dan enjoys whisky of all styles, firmly believing that they all have their place in the world of whisky.

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Matt Inwood

Founder

Originally from the UK, Matt has been based in China since 2017. Since moving to China, Matt has been teaching PE and is also the Athletic Director at an international school in Shenzhen.

Matt is a big fan of multi-cask matured Highland whiskies and is eager for us to start on our own multi-cask maturations.  Matt can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Morgan Caid

Founder

Originally hailing from Florida in the United States, Morgan is a qualified teacher and nurse.

Morgan moved to China in 2019 with her husband and children and is a small business owner and entrepreneur.  Morgan's taste in whisky leans towards Irish triple distilled whiskies or a heavily peated Islay.

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Monica Chen

Born in Taiwan, Monika came to China for business in 2003 and was managing in the footwear industry. Today she continues this work consulting for several international costumers.

She is excited to be part of this great story with people from so many different backgrounds. She can be reached on LinkedIn

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