Meet the Team

Board of Directors

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 this Nine Rivers Distillery.  You can contact Jeff on LINKEDIN.

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Joy Tan

Director

Joy has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communication fortune for 100 brands. She currently runs her own consultant company where her clients are MNCs, which she offers on government, media and brand management.

Prior to this, she was on the senior position in Huawei Technologies. Joy is a member of the Board of Directors and is responsible for executing the branding strategy.

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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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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 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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Daniel Liang

Director

Daniel has more than 20 years experience running a successful manufacturing operation in China. His multicultural background and education, along with his extensive experience in firms from start-ups to international conglomerates, allow him to understand the cultural nuances and navigate the unique business landscape in China.

JAN L.BRONI

Director

Jan has been in China for more than 15 years where he leads a number of companies and concurrently is EVP Global Supply Chain for Meyra Group, GM for AluRehab Xiamen, Chairman of the board of the Danish Chamber of Commerce in South China and Chairman of the Board of the Danish Chamber of Commerce in 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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Board Advisors

Stuart MacPherson

Master of Wood and Board Advisor

Stuart has more than 40 years experience in the industry, starting his career as a journeyman cooper and eventually becoming the Master of Wood for Edrington's Macallan.

Stuart has joined Nine Rivers Distillery to lead our cooperage project here in China.

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Jonathan Dahan

Advisor

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...

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.

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Neil Playfoot

Master Brewer and Board Advisor

Neil has been brewing beer for more than 27 years from small brewpubs with microbreweries, right up to massive commercial breweries. An advocate of quality first in everything he creates in a brewhouse.

Neil is Board Advisor and will be leading everything from malting to brewing.  Neil can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Back Office Team

Maggie Xu

SVP of Absolutely Everything

Maggie is called many things at Nine Rivers Distillery - big sister and auntie are two frequently used names, but we like to consider her as the Senior Vice President of Absolutely Everything.  The reason being is that in her role, there really is nothing that she can't do, or wouldn't do.

While most of her role involves managing our relationships with the government, Maggie is the first person to step up and roll up her sleeves and muck in with anything that needs to be done - even operate one of the excavators one day when we were short staffed on the construction site!

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Winnie Chen

Winnie is a Fujian native and originally from Ningde. Winnie joined our team back in 2021 to manage the finances of Nine Rivers Distillery.

Winnie's favourite thing about working at Nine Rivers Distillery is the location.  She lives so close to our office she can actually walk to work.  Which is a good thing because her driving is really terrible.

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Olive Huang

Olive is originally from Guangxi province, but moved to Longyan 6 years ago before joining our team at the start of 2023.

Olive manages the investor onboarding process for all new investors and also takes care of any questions or problems that any of our investors have.

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Essen Yang

Essen is our intern here at Nine Rivers Distillery as she completes her masters degree in English at Sichuan International Studies University, Chongqing.

Essen joined our company because she thought that the opportunity to interact with so many foreigners from different countries would to rapidly advance her English skills.  Essen assists primarily with translation but is also learning how to fly our drone and create social media content.

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Suping Wu

Auntie Wu, as we call her, has been part of our team since early 2023 and takes care of absolutely everyone in the office. Hence the name Auntie.

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 LINKEDIN.

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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 LINKEDIN.

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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…

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

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  LINKEDIN.

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Lucas Driggers

Founder

Lucas decided to make China his home back in 2007 and he brought with him his live 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, even winning awards for his educational and entertaining 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 Distillery 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 lighted peated scotch style whiskies.  You can contact Aimee on LINKEDIN.

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CJ Bowman

Founder

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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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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Dave Kruse

Founder

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

Founder

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

Founder

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

Founder

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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NIKHIL SADHWANI

Founder

Nikhil was born and raised in Hong Kong SAR. Despite finding it hard to pinpoint which whisky he prefers, his profession as an airline pilot has allowed him to sample all kinds of whisky from the four corners of the globe.

Generally he reaches for a good Scotch, but when the mood takes him he will turn to a Bourbon from time to time. Nikhil sees Nine Rivers as an excellent project to broaden his understanding of whisky and get into the world of distilling as both an investor and active member. He can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Brendan Keogh

Founder

Brendan is an Irish national and whiskey carries huge cultural significance to most Irish people. With a diverse career spanning electrical engineering, mental health, GAA player and marathon runner, it was logical (apparently) to get involved in a whisky distillery in China.

With triple distilled Irish whiskey being close to his heart, Brendan is keen to see some of the more experimental bottlings that will be crafted at Nine River Distillery.

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CHRISTOPHER GREWCOCK

Founder

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

Founder

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

Founder

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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Simon Szewach

Founder

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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Ambassador Investors

Anastasiia

Anastasiia, Ale's wife, likes complex fruity whiskies, and she likes it when her husband drinks something severely peated and smoky. Something scented as a road under construction on a hot summer day.

She is a Ukrainian designer, it's her job to feel the trends - and the 9RD project seems to be addressing something in the air. She enjoys that vibe and she admires the people making it take shape.

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Thomas Molgaard

Thomas is from Denmark and works in the technology sector. He previously lived in Beijing and is now based in Shanghai.

In addition to enjoying whisky, he is an avid motorcyclist, snowboarder and kiteboarder. Thomas can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Steve Carpenter

Steve is general manager for the environmental equipment company, Pro Fab China. He hails from the USA but has been living in China with his family since 2004. He resides in Wuhan, Hubei.

Steve joined the Wuhan whisky community in 2018 and enjoys learning about all the varieties of whiskies, as well the camaraderie of the community, and this inspired him to become an investor in 9 Rivers Distillery. Steve is a fan of Islay whiskies, especially heavily peated ones. Steve can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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DANIEL Hobbs

Ambassador Investor

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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MISCHA VEENHUYSEN

Ambassador Investor

Mischa is a University of Michigan graduate turned kindergarten teacher who’s been a resident of China for more than 8 years. He also is a connoisseur of drink and food and enjoys a good conversation over a glass.

Mischa was excited to be an investor in China's first crowd funded whisky distillery. Mischa can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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Navin Alwani

Ambassador Investor

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 LINKEDIN.

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Simon Gibbons

Ambassador Investor

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 lkess traditional regions, such as Wales, India and Australia.  Simon can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Jean-Pierre Du PREEZ

Ambassador Investor

Jean-Pierre is a Sherry-cask fanatic, South African entrepreneur and CEO of a cross-border product procurement firm.

Jean-Pierre has been a guest speaker and African representative at a number of Trade and Commerce events held across China. He can be contacted on LINKEDIN.

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BROCK OBORN

Ambassador Investor

Brock has been based in China for just over 3 years. He is currently a 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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Sebastian Fabre

Ambassador 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 sell and market 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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Graham Bannerman

Ambassador 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

Ambassador Investor

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

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

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Travis NEWING

Ambassador Investor

Travis is a whisky enthusiast from Melbourne, Australia, who currently lives in Wuhan, Hubei province. Travis preferred non-peat whisky at first, but now he prefers the taste of whisky like Glenlivet/Glenfiddich.

Travis said that after tasting whisky, he wanted to know more about the brewing process of whisky and how the winery operated whisky, so he being an investor in the Nine Rivers Distillery Project. He can be contacted on  LINKEDIN.

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LUCAS WETTON

Ambassador Investor

Lucas is Kentucky born. 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

Ambassador Investor

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

Ambassador Investor

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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Chris Bear

Ambassador Investor

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

Ambassador Investor

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

Eric enjoys sherry cask matured whiskies with a fine cigar.

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Fabien Dupont

Ambassador Investor

Fabien is originally from France and has been based in Guangdong as a product designer since 2015. It was in Shenzhen that he discovered the diversity and subtility of whisky, but most importantly that whisky is uneventful without interesting international whisky lovers to talk about it.

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

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John Zois

Ambassador 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 one of our proud converts - new to whisky, having only really dipped his toes a few years ago but quickly becoming something of an expert.

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

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Mark Bentley

Ambassador Investor

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

Ambassador Investor

Originally from Liverpool in the UK and 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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Brian O’Donovan

Ambassador Investor

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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Jason Will

Ambassador Investor

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

Ambassador Investor

In his role as the Director and Chair at the European Chamber South China ,he is 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

Ambassador Investor

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

Ambassador Investor

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

Ambassador Investor

Simon arrived in to Shenzhen from the UK back in Mar 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

Ambassador Investor

Thomas is a C-Level executive with a specialism in retail in Asia, with more than 40 years experience working across Greater China.

Thomas enjoys the sweeter styles of single malt whisky, but often finishes the evening on a good, peated, Islay dram.

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Phillip Stout

Ambassador Investor

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 and has a preference towards newer world, modern styles of whisky.

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Dan Agundes

Ambassador Investor

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

Ambassador Investor

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 maturation Highlands whisky 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

Ambassador Investor

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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Kevin Skraban

Ambassador Investor

Kevin has more than 30 years of leadership experience in marketing and communications and is currently based in Washington state in the USA.

Married with three children and soon to be a grandfather, Kevin is a devoted whiskey lover and believes that bourbon is one of the things that has always made America one of the best places in the world to live.  Kevin can be contacted on LINKED IN.

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Sandy Lennox

Ambassador Investor

Sandy works in the Early Years education sector with a particular interest in second language acquisition. He is currently undertaking a Master's at the University of Birmingham in Bilingualism in Education. He lives in Nanjing with his family and spends his free time rowing boats and drinking tea.

With a traditional upbringing on smokey Islay style whiskies, he has recently been broadening his horizon's and enjoying some new world whiskies.

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Tim Kaymak

Ambassador Investor

Tim is from Cambridge, England and a professional in the education industry, in Foshan in Guangdong. A huge fam of heavily peated whiskies.

Tim became a part of Nine Rivers because he wanted to be a part of the provenance of whisky.  Being able to actually go to a distillery (as shareholders can) and be hands on in the entire production process of what is bottled and then consumed.

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Carlos Gonzalez

Ambassador Investor

Carlos has been in China since 2005 initially working as bridge between China and Mexico (leading the importing and market development for traditional Mexican products such as avocados, tequila and beer) and then later including products from other Latin American countries.

As a whisky lover, Carlos is keen to start developing markets in Latin America for Nine Rivers Distillery products and throughout the hispanic and latin American communities across the world.

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Christian Busch

Ambassador Investor

Christian has been in China since 2014. Originally from Germany, Christian works as a senior engineer in the R&D Department of a multinational company that specialises in audio and multimedia hardware.

Christian is well known within the whisky community in China, with his reviews and tasting notes being highly influential to a level where he is colloquially referred to as "Whisky Yoda".

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Jozef Macak

Ambassador Investor

Jozef Macak is a teacher and leader with decades of experience in education. He has been head of PE departments at various schools, including The British International School and SUIS Xiamen.

Jozef has been in Xiamen since 2018 where he sneaks in the occasional peated dram between being a father and a competitive long distance runner.

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Zia Chaudhary

Ambassador Investor

Zia has been based in south China since 2016 with his wife and their child. With extensive experience in F&B and Hospitality, Zia is keen to utilise his skills and experience to help 9RD.

Sergio Alonso

Ambassador Investor

Founder and partner of SOG design, an architectural studio with more than 15 years experience and offices in Barcelona, Guangzhou, Singapore and Vietnam. 

Originally tasked with taking a Birmingham inspired brick masonry vision and making it into an architectural design, Alonso was so impressed with the leadership of Nine Rivers Distillery that he became an investor in the project.

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Blair Zachary

Ambassador Investor

A long-time whiskey enthusiast hailing from Ontario, Canada, Blair has spent the last nine years living in Beijing. A former marine biologist and current teaching professional, Blair has recently become part of the growing whiskey networking scene in China.

When it comes to his personal shelf, Blair has a diverse taste and finds space for ryes and bourbons, Japanese, Irish and Scotch styles, as well as multi-cask maturations.

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Michael Schjerbeck Jensen

Michael is originally from Denmark and has been working with and in China for the last couple of decades. A whisky enthusiast since 2008, Micheal leans towards ex-bourbon cask matured single malts.

Michael got involves with 9RD as a gateway to learning first hand what it takes to make real whiskey, and because of the massive potential he saw in a project of this size and scale.

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Greg Laffradi

Greg pitches himself as a reclusive toothpaste tycoon from Canada who is based in Beijing, in China and spends his spare time investing in interesting startup projects.

Nine Rivers Distillery ticks the boxes for being both interesting and a startup.

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Jim Freeman

Jim is from Kalamazoo in Michigan, USA, and has been drinking whisky for 20 years. He's a big fan of bourbon style whisky which he drinks to help him with the depression of being a Detroit Lions fan.

Jim did ask us to change the 20 years of drinking to 17, in case his mother ever read this site and did some quick maths to work out he was actually a very naughty teenager.....

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Ivan Ivanov

Ivan has been in China since 2014, and came here to start his own electronics sourcing and supply company, to supply parts for smartphones and cars, to his customer base in Europe.

Ivan got involved in Nine Rivers Distillery through our network on monthly whisky events across China.  Meeting up with some of the other people that were already involved and becoming interested in being a part of what 9RD aims to achieve.

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Mark Propp

Mark originally came to China in 2008, and an engineer and a factory manager. After a few career changes which included a craft beer brew pub in Shenzhen, Mark now teaches computer science and astronomy.

Mark got involved in Nine Rivers Distillery in the same way most investors did....through knowing Jay and having the confidence that if anyone was every going to build China's biggest single malt whisky distillery......it was going to be him.

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Venus Liu

Venus is from Hong Kong but when in China, she is based in Tang Xia in Dongguan - hence being a regular at our Dongguan Whisky Networking events.

Venus is a big fan of Speyside styles of whisky, and got involved in Nine Rivers Distillery because of the market opportunity for premium single malt whisky made in China.

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Sean Mellon

Sean is is originally from Omagh in Northern Ireland but has been right here in China for more than 7 years, working as an education professional.

As someone from a rather special part of the world, rich in history around whiskey, getting involved with Nine Rivers Distillery and the scale of the ambition of the project, was literally fate.

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Robert Lopes

Originally from New Zealand, Robert became interesting in whisky through friends - before Japanese whisky was even a thing outside of Japan.

Robert got involved in Nine Rivers Distillery because of a passion and interest in the processes that go into crafting unique whiskies and the confidence that we (as a team) can do it all better than everyone else.

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Barry Keir

Barry is originally from rural Scotland, and after travelling the world a few times, decided that China would be the best place to set down roots and have a family.

A big fan of sherry cask matured whisky, Barry got involved in Nine Rivers Distillery initially out of curiosity (to see if a project of such scale was even possible) which soon changed to a real passion to be part of the inevitable success.

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Tyler Nickerson

Tyler relocated to China back in 2001, originally in Shenzhen and then later to Dongguan from his original home in Canada.

While originally a fan of bourbon style whiskies, Tyler has broadened his palate to explore other whisky styles from around the world, since joining our various whisky groups.  Being aware of 9RD for a few years and supporting the project, Tyler finally got involved in January 2024.

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Craig Emmerson

Craig is originally from the UK and came to China, like so many others, to broaden his life experiences in The Middle Kingdom. Specifically in Guangdong where he works as an education professional.

Current sips on the shelf include bottles from Scotland and Japan, with a few cheeky American bourbons hidden away at the back, next to a bottle of cola.

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Stefan Janse Van Rensburg

Originally from South Africa, Stefan has been a whisky enthusiast for more than a decade.

Stefan got involved in Nine Rivers Distillery as a change from his usual property focussed investment strategies because he believed in the timing, the market opportunity and the leadership team heading the project.

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Andrew Smith

Andrew is originally from the UK and has been enjoying whisky for more than 30 years, with most of those years right here in China, as a professional golfer.

Andrew got involved in Nine Rivers Distillery because there were already so many golfers involved - golf and whisky bring people together and being a people person, this was right up his street.

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Construction Team

Jianhui Liu

Jianhui is from Quanzhou, Fujian. He is chief supervising engineer and has been involved in this project for more than one year.

The most interesting part of the project: He is a big fan of Marvel movies. This is the first time he has been in a project with many international friends. He feels like this lineup can also make a blockbuster movie, and he can also play a role in it.

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Guangqing Liu

Guangqing is from Longyan, Fujian. He is installation supervisor and has been involved in this project for one year.

The most interesting part of the project: a lovely, funny, enthusiastic and sincere foreigner.

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Jianchao Zhang

Jianchao is from Longyan, Fujian. He is civil engineering supervisor and has been involved in this project for one year.

Working with such a wonderful foreigner is the funniest part. It was a pleasure working with Jay. He is in high spirits every day and makes us all happy.

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Faye Luo

Luo is from Longyan, Fujian. He is construction project manager and has been involved in this project for more than a year.

The memorable thing is that Jay sends red envelopes to workers at Christmas, which is a combination of Chinese and Western culture.

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Wenjin Huang

Wenjin is from Longyan, Fujian. He is worker and has been involved in this project for one year.

2023 Christmas is unforgettable.

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Chuanhuang Huang

Chuanhuang is from Longyan, Fujian. He is worker and has been involved in this project for one year.

The participation of foreign friends is novel and interesting, and there is also a group of young and energetic young people working together, which brings he back to young days.

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Qingyang Luo

Qingyang is from Longyan, Fujian. He is water, electricity and firefighting worker and has been involved in this project for more than one year.

The most interesting thing is watching the building being built bit by bit is like witnessing a huge “block castle” gradually taking shape.

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Linhua Liang

Linhua is from Longyan, Fujian. He is safety officer and has been involved in this project for one year.

Being able to work with a group of interesting people is the funniest thing.

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Shuiying Cao

Shuiying is from Longyan, Fujian. She is documentation clerk and has been involved in this project for three months.

This is a good group with good vibe. Everyone is friendly and get along well with each other.

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