Shaun Byrne appointed new Melbourne Royal Head Judge for the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards

Melbourne Royal is pleased to announce the appointment of Shaun Byrne as the new Head Judge for the Melbourne Royal Australian Distilled Spirits Awards.

Director of two of Australia’s most awarded beverage brands, Maidenii Vermouth and Marionette Liqueurs, Shaun is a well-known and respected figure in the Australian spirits industry and brings to the role more than 20 years of experience in hospitality coupled with his extensive judging experience.

Shaun has been involved in the Awards since its inception in 2015 and has watched it grow and evolve to become the most important spirits competition in Australia.

“To be asked to lead the judging as the Head Judge is a great honour and carries a weight of responsibility to ensure that entrants are receiving fair and valuable feedback and appropriate recognition of their products,” said Byrne.


"As a spirits producer, the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards are invaluable in receiving feedback on upcoming new products," he continues.

"We have taken feedback from entries, adjusted recipes and re-released to an uptick in sales."

It is important to note that with the integrity of the judging process and the impartiality of our judging panel in mind, Shaun is not permitted to enter his products while Head Judge.

“Shaun’s appointment has been unanimously endorsed by the Industry Advisory Group of the Melbourne Royal Australian Distilled Spirits Awards, which includes members of the Australian Distillers Association, and we are thrilled to welcome him to the role as the program heads into its ninth year,” said Damian Nieuwesteeg, Manager of the Awards Programs.

"We are delighted to appoint Shaun Byrne as our new Head Judge for the Melbourne Royal Australian Distilled Spirits Awards," said Brad Jenkins, CEO Melbourne Royal.

"Shaun has been on our judging panel since the Awards commenced in 2015 and is highly respected in the industry.

“He will be instrumental in ensuring that the Awards continue to evolve and offer value to Australian distillers by celebrating excellence and inspiring innovation."

Jenkins also expressed his gratitude to Seb Costello, the previous Head Judge, for his exceptional service and dedication to the role since 2020 and for seeing the program through the challenges of recent years.

“Costello's contribution has been invaluable in evolving the judging process of the Awards to reflect industry trends, which further enhanced the value of entering and the prestige of winning a Melbourne Royal medal or trophy”.

"Although Seb has completed his term as Head Judge, we are thrilled and appreciative that he will remain involved with the Awards as a member of our Industry Advisory Group," concluded Mr. Jenkins.

With Shaun Byrne as the new Head Judge, the Melbourne Royal Australian Distilled Spirits Awards is well-placed to continue to be a vital platform for celebrating the industry's finest spirits and inspiring innovation.

Entries for the 2023 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards are now open, and Trophy Presentation tickets are now on sale. Visit the website for more information.