About Us

About Us

Speciality Brands is proud to have not only some of the world’s finest spirits, but also a dedicated team of the most experienced and well-respected personalities in the UK drinks industry. Comprised of award-winning mixologists, top brand ambassadors and experienced account managers, our passion is delivering first class products, training and impeccable service levels to the prestige on trade and retail sectors.

Chris Seale

Chris Seale

Managing Director

Chris keeps his steady hand on the tiller as he steers Speciality Brands on its path of growth.

Having spent over 20 years in commercial and marketing roles in large international businesses, Chris founded Speciality Brands with Raj and Sukhinder Singh, after becoming frustrated with big company politics and followed his desire to get closer to his products and customers. Having spent 10 years with Pernod Ricard, Chris has very strong experience with the UK on and off trade both in the wine and spirits sectors. His last role at Pernod Ricard saw him promoted to Head of Champagne and Cognac during which period he launched Martell XO and Cuvee R Lalou from G.H. Mumm.

Proud father to toddler Hayden, Chris is also a keen sportsman, and when he is not watching or talking about Welsh rugby if he is allowed, you will find him in one of London's many cocktail bars or restaurants enjoying a Negroni or glass of Chablis.

Stefanie Holt

Stefanie Holt

Whisk(e)y Ambassador

Stef is our tame whisk(e)y ambassador, who rhapsodises about the golden nectar around the country. Whether it be training bartenders, entertaining consumers or pouring drams to the thirsty masses at shows & events, her explanations of flavour, production and history really help bring our whisk(e)y brands to life.

Stef joins Speciality Brands after being a global rum ambassador & was awarded both the UK and International Brand Ambassador of the Year (2010 & 2012) at the Golden Rum Barrel Awards for her work on El Dorado. Along with her experience in growing young brands and reputation in the industry, she brings her Scottish heritage & passion for whiskies from all over the world to the fore in her new role.

Stef is single and likes long walks on the beach and has a slightly cheeky sense of humour. When not talking about whisk(e)y or writing dating profiles, she is quite likely to be found planning adventurous holidays, buying shoes, scuba diving or cooking up feasts using only leftovers. Her favourite animals are otters and turtles, and her favourite word is the French for grapefruit. 

Gabriela Moncada

Gabriela Moncada

Agave Ambassador

 

Gabriela or Gaby as she likes to be called, is Speciality Brands’ Agave Ambassador. Originally from Guadalajara in Mexico, Gaby is proud to be able to impart her knowledge, passion and love for the agave spirits produced in her native country to UK bartenders and consumers who are discovering this fantastic category through her tastings, trainings and talks.

After more than ten years’ working in cocktail bars in London, Gaby began promoting Tequila as a brand ambassador. A native of Jalisco, Gaby’s wealth of knowledge extends far beyond Tequilas of her home state, to the smoky stone pits for some mezcals in Oaxaca, and to the rustic Philippine stills used by the Maestros Taberneros responsible for making Raicillas in Jalisco.

Although she may not seem it, those who know Gaby will tell you she’s a wild child at heart! If Gaby isn’t out riding motorbikes too fast on slow country roads around the world, then she’s probably dancing salsa on one of London’s busy dance floors.

Angus Russell

Angus Russell

Business Development Manager, Scotland

Angus is our Business Development Manager for Scotland. Having tried a huge variety of hobbies including equestrian vaulting, audio engineering and even an attempt at rock stardom... Angus decided his skills would be best put to use working in the hospitality sector where he worked his way up from the lowly pot washer to managing some of Scotland’s finest hotels and restaurants. 

Having developed a passion for cocktails and spirits, and having achieved everything he felt he wanted to on the hospitality side, Angus started work with Scott Gemmell at LA Group, bringing Glasgow bartenders new and exciting products to work with. Later on, Angus seized the opportunity to head up the Premium Brands division at Inverarity Morton; training bartenders on all aspects of spirit production and use.

Seriously patriotic, Angus invests as much time as he can into helping Scottish bartenders and bars achieve their full potential.

 

Jon Lister

Jon Lister

Head of Creativity & Drinks

Jon seems to have spent his entire adult life behind the bar. From craft pubs and boutique hotels to artisan restaurants and bespoke cocktail lounges, Jon has drawn on these to become an inventive designer of cocktails and a leading consultant in the industry.

He joined the Speciality Brands team in 2013, having represented the UK in the Diplomatico World Tournament cocktail competition. Now having swapped the back bar for the portfolio of Speciality Brands, Jon has not lost his love for the creative. He brings showmanship and originality to the table and is the “go to” mixer and shaker of the team.

Jon may be known for the experimental, from food pairings to original serves, but with his faithful hound Sazerac never too far from his side, it is clear that he still has a passion for the classics.

Phil Nickson

Phil Nickson

Business Development Manager, Retail

Phil joined the business in December 2014 to develop the retail channel managing both national groups and independents in the South of England.

He brings to the team a wealth of whisky and spirits experience, having previously worked in commercial on and off trade roles at Morrison Bowmore Distillers and was part of the team that launched Caorunn gin to the UK market in 2009.

When not at work, Phil likes to relax with an ‘Old Fashioned’, a glass of red, a round of golf and a guitar though not always at the same time. A father of one, with another one on the way, and in a dream job, life is about to get a lot busier and a lot more interesting.

Tom Bartram

Tom Bartram

Business Development Manager, London

Tom, our resident drinks geek, has over 12 years of industry experience under his belt, including tending bars at some of the world’s best drinking establishments, and seven years working for spirits brands.

Looking after Central and West London on trade, Tom is known for delivering ground breaking training sessions on a variety of subjects and spirits categories.

With a particular focus on the spirits of South and Central America, Tom has travelled extensively from the vineyards of Peru to the mountains of Oaxaca searching out the perfect spirits, which he will tell you about at great length, whether prompted or not!

Daryl Avery-Smith

Daryl Avery-Smith

Business Development Manager - West & Central London

Daryl joined the Speciality Brands team as Business Development Manager for Central and West London. Over the last 5 years he has gained a wealth of experience across the wholesale and agency business from Amathus Drinks, with specific responsibility throughout West London including Mayfair and its many prestigious establishments.

Prior to working in the wholesale sector, Daryl managed a number of well-known bars around London, as well as being a professional DJ having involvement with some of the top-notch promoted nights, where he could be seen rubbing shoulders with the jet-set DJ crowd.

With a creative flare for mixing his drinks and tunes, sometimes both at once, he’s never too far away from anyone of London’s classy establishments. When he’s not swooning around the West End, he’s fully committed to supporting his son’s passion for all things footy and can be seen (and heard) on most Saturday mornings, supporting the talented Edmonton Eagles team.

Lorcan O'Duffy

Lorcan O'Duffy

Events & Digital Manager

Lorcan (or as Jon calls him "Little Big Man") is the man behind a host of events and activations at Speciality Brands. Coming from a Drinks Marketing background Lorcan has looked after such brands as Red Bull, Laphroaig & Auchentoshan before stepping into the role at Speciality Brands. 

Bringing fresh ideas and an experiential outlook towards events, Lorcan is utilising the skills he previosuly gained to help bring the Speciality Brands portfolio to the key players in the UK Drinks Industry and the ever present consumers. All this whilst also making sure our Digital presence is up to date by controlling the social channels and website.

When not sampling the latest cocktails around town - he's partial to a Boulevardier - you can find Lorcan out on the paddock for his local rugby club avoiding too much running or saying "every time sir!" at the match on TV.

Nathan Merriman

Nathan Merriman

Business Development Manager - East London and South of England

Nathan made the move from Australia (aka God's Country) in 2010. Fortunate to have landed safely he hopped on over to join the re-opening team at the American Bar, Savoy Hotel. After a good stint there he then moved on to such establishments as Club at The Ivy, Big Easy Covent Garden - where he launched the bar - before taking on the role as Beverage Manager at Ace Hotel, Shoredtich.

Having been a customer of Speciality Brands for a number of years he joined the team in 2016. Now with the portfolio under his arm Nathan gets to share his favourite spirits with the trade in East London and the South of England.

Nathan loves nothing more than sharing a drink with friends in a bar, or preferably a roof terrace, at any opportunity. You will often find him with anything from a beer to a martini (maybe even a White Lady) in hand -  you might also hear some good old Aussie slang if you're lucky!