When good friends meet over a great bottle of whisky, the conversation flows.  Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s profound. Sometimes it evolves into something real.  Ours grew into Nine Rivers Distillery.



Nine Rivers is a multi-category distillery located in the mountains of Longyan, an area of outstanding natural beauty and just 90 minutes north of Xiamen.

Our site is surrounded by ancient woodlands, a paradise for nature lovers and hikers as well as natural mountain springs that filter water over millennia through the natural igneous and sedimental rock formations.  This highly fertile land with pristine water has supported human settlements and agriculture for thousands of years.

We build onto this legacy of purity and combine some modern touches to bring distilling into the 21st century.  Crafting vodka, gin, rhum and whiskies to quality standards above and beyond those defined by industry leaders.


We are a close-knit team that’s obsessed with our craft. Each of us brings a unique strength to the distillery.

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 by on LINKEDIN.

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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 some 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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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 are 10 different companies with 8 of them based in China.

Jeff is a founder, a board member and a significant investor in this Nine Rivers Distillery.  You can contact Jeff on LINKEDIN.

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Stephen Davies


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 being won 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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Jin Jin Chen


Jin Jin is a co-founder and shareholder in an extensive group of companies that import, distribute, wholesale and retail wines, liquors and whiskies. Jin Jin’s experience in the Chinese alcohols market stretches back over a decade, initially starting with a casual interest in European wines.

Jin Jin is led by wine cask finishes when it comes to her preferred styles of whisky. Jin Jin can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Liam McShane


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 LINKEDIN.

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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


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 LINKEDIN.

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Vinay Dayaram


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…

was 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


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  LINKEDIN.

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Lucas Driggers


Lucas decided to make China his home back in 2007 and he brought with him his love of bourbon and other American Whiskies.  In May 2018, Lucas took his passion for whisky a step further by hosting whisky themed events across Wuhan and 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


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 lighted peated scotch style whiskies.  You can contact Aimee on LINKEDIN.

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CJ Bowman


CJ was an early founder 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 friend of China.  Another peated whisky fan.  CJ can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Vince Ngai


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 of our own barley.  He can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Stephen Alexander


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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Dave Kruse


Dave has more than 16 years of experience working in China or 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


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 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 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.

Maarten has been a keen whisky lover for more than 2 decades with a preference towards American bourbons.  He can be contacted on  LINKEDIN.

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Eric Pallas


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.

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NIK was born and raised in Hong Kong SAR. Despite Hard to pinpoint which whisky are favourite, but being an airline pilot who is very fortunate to travel the world he have been lucky enough to find some relatively unique unknown brands from local stores in places such as Japan, Ireland and Australia.

Preferred Single malts although some bourbons are nice too on occasion. Nine rivers is an excellent starting point into the world of distilling and NIK also hope to expand the knowledge of it with this investment. NIK can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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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 said it was exciting to be an investor in China’s first homegrown whisky distillery. Because it can learn about more types of whisky and broaden his whisky tastes. Christopher can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Darryl Swanepoel


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


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 the geography departments of 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 of whisky and the wonderfully interesting world of whisky. Richard can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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We combine age-old western traditions with modern advances in technology to minimise energy usage and reduce our carbon footprint.

We harvest energy from the environment using air-source heat pumps. We recycle the heat that we generate using highly optimised heat exchangers. We create cooling from natural airflow and smart architecture. Our waste is recycled as animal feed and fertiliser for farming. We use recycled glass and renewable source for all of our packaging.

We see all of these things as common sense and responsible business

Facts and Figures


Our water has been trapped beneath 300 meters of volcanic granite for thousands of years. Free from salts and other minerals that impair flavor, our water is pure, crisp, and it brings out the best in our grains.


Nine Rivers is located 800 meters above sea level in a remote mountain village. This area has a unique microclimate similar to the Lowlands of Scotland, which creates better harmony between alcohol and cask.


We recycle all spent grains into animal feed. While free of some starches, these grains are rich in protein and nutrients that would otherwise go to waste.


Quality of ingredients makes or breaks the quality of what you’re drinking. Using proprietary NFC chips, we track everything that goes into each individual bottle – right down to the grain.   


In addition to recycling our used grains for animal feed, we repurpose our pot ale and spent lees to create biogas for the local community.


We produce a complete portfolio of premium spirits, including vodka, gin, rhum, liqueurs – and, of course, whisky. At full capacity we will produce 500,000 bottles a year across 18 products.


We believe in the power of technology to enhance traditional craftsmanship. Building on classic copper still design, we use a proprietary system of agitation and collective heat exchange that greatly reduces energy consumption and extends the life of our stills.


Old distillation technology uses far too much energy, which threatens the natural resources that make our products great. We have minimized our environmental impact by reducing energy consumption to mere fractions of the energy-per-bottle consumed at traditional distilleries.

How do we make whisky?


Only three things can be used to make whisky. Grains, water and yeast. But with only three ingredients to craft and shape new make whisky spirit with, the quality of these three things is of absolute importance.

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We mill our own grains on-site and to different consistencies of grist depending on which style of whisky we will be crafting. The objective is to crack open the grains, separate the husks and create some flour.

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Fermentation is the magic that happens in the washbacks to convert the sugars from the wort into the first stage of alcohol, which we call wash. The speed of the fermentation influences the flavour of the wash

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During our first distillation, we put the wash into a still and gradually heat it up to allow the alcohols and other elements to evaporate. We condense this back into a liquid at between 22% and 24% ABV.

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During our second distillation, which normally takes about 8 hours, we refine the alcohol to something more palatable by cutting out the finest heart of the distillate – about 14% of the total volume.

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We’ve taken our learnings from the very best of whisky producers across the world and we recognize that the quality of the casks used to mature our spirit can make or break a whisky.

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After our mandatory 3 years in an oak cask, some of our whiskies go on for a further cask finish to add depth and breadth to the final product. Some of the cask finishes that we use include

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Nine Rivers Distillery will never produce more than 500’000 bottles of single malt whisky each year at maximum capacity. 5000 casks at our on-site dunnage where we will take care of every cask as if they were our children

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