Judges Panel 2019

Steve Beal

Award Winner,
Spirits Judge & Brand Ambassador

Steve Beal is a very familiar figure to both the consumers who enjoy them and those in the trade who make and spirits. He has earned the respect of everyone he meets with his endless energy and passion for all things distilled and whisky in particular.

Before his retirement from corporate life, he served as fulltime official brand ambassador for some of the world’s iconic whisky brands. Many have come to consider him the unofficial brand ambassador for the category of whisky as a whole.

He is regarded as one of the top distilled spirits experts in America. For most of his whisky career, Steve was one of the spirits giant Diageo’s original Masters of Whisky and Sr. Master of Whisky for DIAGEO Spirits on the US West Coast at the time of his official retirement in 2015.

2017 – Became Chairing Judge for the International Wine & Spirits Competition, UK, the world’s oldest and largest blind tasting competition where has served as a panel judge for seven years.

2016 – He was honored with Life Membership – Lifetime Achievement Award by US Bartenders Guild at the Spirited Awards at Tales of The Cocktail in New Orleans.

2015 – Became Chair the Judging for the World Whiskies Awards for the Americas for Whisky Magazine. He also judges the World Whiskies Awards in the UK

2015 – He was inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame together with Al Young of Four Roses Bourbon and Bill Samuels of Makers Mark.

2010 – He was created "Keeper of the Quaich", an honor bestowed only upon the elite of the Scotch Whisky industry. Fifty-two individuals from around the world were welcomed at Blair Castle in the heart of the Scottish Highlands for induction into the Keepers of the Quaich.

2000 – He became a founding judge for the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a position he continues in to this day.

In addition to his former role as Master of Whisky, Steve is also known as a writer, chef, and broadcast personality. He judges for the American Distilling Institute, the American Craft Spirits Association, and the Ambrosia Spirits Awards in Mumbai.

He currently serves on the management committee of the US Bartenders Guild Master Mixologist program and is one of its founders.

Steve makes his home in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. He is a graduate of Oxford University and the University of Arizona. He holds a Master of Divinity Degree from The Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, California and is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church where he also serves in a voluntary capacity as assisting priest at San Francisco’s nearby Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill. He also volunteers his time working with the City’s homeless.

Damian Cross

Damian Cross came to Las Vegas more than 10 years ago from Upstate New York, looking to become a true beverage professional. In 2007 he landed his first job at Border Grill in Mandalay Bay where he helped to develop one of Las Vegas’ first fully seasonal and all fresh bar programs offered in the city. From there he oversaw the bar at Yolo’s Mexican Grill as Lead Bartender where he was responsible for developing menus, training, and managing the staff. In 2012, he joined Wolfgang Puck as the Head Bartender at CUT inside the Venetian Las Vegas. While at the helm at CUT, Damian was able to develop one of the top whiskey and craft cocktail menus in the city and spearheaded its beverage training program.

In 2015, Damian joined Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Las Vegas as Property Mixologist where he was instrumental in reviving the cocktail programs while driving standardization of policies and procedures within the properties’ 20+ bars. In 2017, he was instrumental in the successful reopening of Wynn Las Vegas’ anchor bars, Parasol Up and Parasol Down, crafting uniquely modern beverage programs for each venue.

Now, Damian has taken on a new role as the first ever Corporate Mixologist for Station Casinos, a premiere gaming and entertainment company with 20 casinos throughout Southern Nevada. In this new role, he will continue to drive innovation, build and strengthen teams, programs and overall quality at dozens of bars and restaurants.

Robert E. Gonzales Jr.

Robert Gonzales is the San Francisco Spirits Specialist for Wine Warehouse. He has participated in the Beverage Industry since 2000, when he took a job as a bar back at a nightclub while in school. Fast forward to today, he is a well-respected spirits expert and mixology professional.

Robert earned his professional credibility in San Francisco by working closely with top industry names such as; Julio Bermejo, Tequila Ambassador to The Americas, David Nepove, National President of the United States Bartender’s Guild (USBG), Stephen Beal, Senior Master of Whiskey and Keeper of the Quaich, Marcovaldo Dionysus & Jacques Bezuidenhout - two of the world’s most respected and admired bartenders...just to name a few.

He has a large collection of accolades that certify him as an expert in all spirit categories, as well as mixology. Gonzales spent 5 years of his career on the road traveling North America and the Caribbean fulltime, moving from city to city fulfilling demands for spirits education and craft mixology.

Today, after having consulted on hundreds of bars & restaurants, trained thousands of bartenders, leading thousands of consumers in a variety of symposiums, workshops, and seminars around the continent on behalf of both Diageo & Beam Suntory, he is back in San Francisco.

Robert is a proud San Franciscan and is pleased to be working exclusively with Wine Warehouse and shares their dream of introducing California to our vast and growing portfolio.

Eduardo Dingler

Eduardo A Dingler moved to Napa from Mexico in 1999 following his passion for wine. Throughout the years he worked at some of Napa Valley’s iconic restaurants including Tra Vigne and Bistro Don Giovanni.

In 2010 he was part of the Morimoto Napa opening team as Beverage Director. In 2011, he assumed the role of Corporate Beverage Director; overseeing existing and new operations for the Morimoto Group including the opening of Morimoto Mexico, Morimoto Maui, Morimoto Asia Orlando and Momosan New York.

In September 2017 he started a journey in journalism, focused on wine, sake, food and travel. He has also taken on the role of sake and shochu ambassador by consulting for a number of Japanese breweries as well as founding sakedrinker.com, an upcoming educational Sake resource. He has gone through the Court of Master Sommeliers program and he is also a Certified Sake Professional.

Eduardo is a professional Wine, Sake and Spirits Judge for the San Francisco International Wine Competition, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Japan Wine Challenge and Japan Sake Challenge.

Eduardo currently writes for the Napa Valley Register and Decanter Magazine covering wine, sake, and spirits

Judging Process

The 2019 Global Spirit Awards Judges Panel is a group of highly experienced & decorated men & women, with tremendous and diverse spirits and mixology backgrounds.

The panel we have assembled perfectly fits the high level of quality and visibility that we wanted for our inaugural panel.

The judging process, itself, is conducted as a 100% blind tasting process from the early rounds all the way through the sweepstakes rounds.

As each entry is received, it is catalogued in our system and put into its most appropriate sub-category. During the competition, all the spirits in their respective and specific sub-categories are sampled together as flights, carefully evaluated from color to finish, and scored by each one of our spirits judges on that that flight.

Then, scores for each spirit are tallied. The few spirits that have the distinguished honor of being scored the highest will move on to our sweepstakes rounds.

In the early afternoon of June 12th, those highest scored spirits will be judged again to crown the Best of the Show categories.

On July 15th, a worldwide press release will be sent out announcing all the winners as well as the overall Best of the Show winners. That announcement alone will be viewed by millions of people around the world in the industry as well as consumers in the public.

Each winner will also receive a one of kind medal, and a complete digital media kit including links to press releases, and multiple file format artwork for their use.