Ultimate Beverage Challenge Directors
F. Paul Pacult
As America’s Spirits Guru, Paul is publisher/editor of F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal; contributing editor for Beverage Dynamics. He also hosts the critically acclaimed monthly tasting series in New York City, the Masters Series at Keens Steakhouse. He is a founding partner of the award-winning educational company Beverage Alcohol Resource LLC.
From 2000 to 2009, he was Judging Director of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. He is the author of five books: Kindred Spirits 2: 2,400 Reviews of Whisky, Gin, Tequila, Vodka, Brandy and Liqueurs (Spirit Journal, Inc, 2008); A Double Scotch: How Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet Became Global Icons (Wiley, 2005), the best-selling American Still Life: The Jim Beam Story and the Making of the World’s #1 Bourbon (Wiley, 2003) as well as Kindred Spirits (Hyperion, 1997) and The Beer Essentials (Hyperion, 1997).
Paul won an award for wine journalism excellence in 2001 from The Academy of Wine Communications. He is the only journalist in the world to concurrently be a Master of The Keepers of the Quaich whisky society (Edinburgh, Scotland), a life member of Kentucky’s Bourbon Hall of Fame, and a life member of France’s Company of Armagnac Musketeers. Paul was awarded the 2011 Cognac Personality of the Year by the Bureau National Intreprofessional du Cognac and he is also the proud recipient of the Cheers 2011 Raising the Bar award.
David Talbot has focused his entire career on the wine, spirits, dining and publishing industries, bringing a unique combination of design, sales and managerial skills to both established and entrepreneurial endeavors.
Over the past 16 years, David has served as Senior Vice President, Publishing and Events of Wine Enthusiast Companies and Associate Publisher of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. In these roles he has been integral to the editorial focus, design, circulation, marketing and media sales of both the print publication and its web site. During his tenure the magazine has expanded and enhanced its editorial quality, rating and review program, book publishing, and its online web and email presence. In addition, David was integral to the launch and growth of Wine Enthusiast’s trade and consumer events over the past 10 years, with its annual Wine Star Awards ceremony and dinner for the trade and four annual consumer Toast of the Town wine, spirits and restaurant tasting events on a national basis.
David has travelled to many of the major wine-producing regions around the world, and values his wide-ranging relationships on the production, marketing and executive levels of the wine industry on a global basis.
David’s publishing background includes art direction at Gourmet, Cuisine and People magazines. His entrepreneurial endeavors include 10 years as founder and CEO of two New York based specialty food companies, Chelsea Baking Company and Chelsea Ice, serving the corporate dining, catering, and hotel and restaurant industries.
A lifelong New Yorker, he holds a M.B.A. in Marketing and Management from NYU’s Stern School of Business and a B.G.S. in Art History from the University of Michigan. He is happy to admit that he is an ardent fan of the New York Yankees.
Born and raised in England, Sue spent the first portion of her professional life as an actor in the United Kingdom and Kenya. She moved to New York and married and went into business with Paul Pacult in the late 1980s. Sue Woodley has been Managing Editor of the quarterly newsletter F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal since the early 1990s. Spirit Journal is the acknowledged bible of unbiased and independent spirits criticism and information.
In the mid-1990s Sue produced two radio shows, The Happy Hour with Paul Pacult & Gary Regan and Paul Pacult’s Good Life. In 1998, Sue was General Manager of the Spirit Journal’s SpiritsExpo in New York. Today, she is Managing Partner of Spirit Journal, Inc., an educational, consulting, and publishing company.
Sean Ludford has been involved in the beverage industry for more than two decades. He has an eclectic resume including stints at restaurants, some of America’s top wine & spirit retailers, as a writer & reviewer, importer/distributor, and was once even lured to the South Pacific to help open a micro brewery!
At the retail level Sean developed and launched a popular and successful wine club that boasts a nationwide membership. In the beginning of this millennium Sean was the Spirits Director at Sam’s Wines & Spirits, the nation’s top volume seller at the time. While there he was able to increase spirits sales while strengthening global visibility. After leaving Sam’s Sean acted independently as an ambassador to a select group of handpicked import brands traveling the country educating and collaborating with wholesalers and key accounts. In this capacity Sean sought to elevate the recognition and understanding of unique, family owned brands that might otherwise be lost in the vast sea of products.
Today Sean focuses on writing and educating. In 2006 he created BevX.com (Beverage Experts) a lifestyle web publication with a weighty beverage focus. BevX is a unique and independent voice in the world of wine, beer, and spirits punditry. Sean is also a regular contributor/columnist for several print magazines including, Nightclub & Bar Magazine, Restaurant Hospitality, Malt Advocate, The Tasting Panel Magazine, and several others.
Sean has judged at many of the world’s most prestigious wine, beer, and spirits competitions. Ludford says, “Reviewing products is a tricky thing. It requires experience and an ability to put the beverages in context while always being fair.”
Traveling is somewhat of an obsession visiting wineries, distilleries, and breweries on 6 continents and countless countries. He speaks regularly on topics as diverse as Single Malts, Belgian Ales, Italian wines, and the vineyards of Bali (don’t get him going on that one). In his coveted spare time Sean enjoys cooking, hiking, reading, watching rugby, and seeking the perfect pint. If you see him out, buy him one.