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SB Voices: Celebrating young writing talent

Talent among young journalists in the drinks industry shone in the Alan Lodge Young International Drinks Writer of the Year competition, writes Amy Hopkins.

The drinks industry is a nurturing environment for young drinks writers

There are many ways to enter journalism, spanning traditional and less obvious routes. Myself and many other drinks writers I know came in through the door of mainstream news, others fell into the occupation by chance, and some pursued a passion for the industry through writing. Whatever their background, there’s no denying the talent among the journalists of the drinks world.

There are top drinks writers who have been in the game for years, and others who are relatively new. What struck me when I joined The Spirits Business back in 2013 was the nurturing, friendly and even complimentary environment of drinks journalism – a starkly different attitude to the competitive and oftentimes unsupportive arena of mainstream news, at least in my experience.

As with all industries, new talent is essential to keep drinks journalism vibrant and exciting, and I was heartened to learn of journalists from around the world who are producing excellent work through the Alan Lodge Young International Drinks Writer of the Year 2018 award. Launched in memory of Alan Lodge, the late deputy editor of The Spirits Business, the award celebrates both the memory of Alan and the work of ambitious young writers.

This year, our judging panel selected New York-based drinks writer Dan Q. Dao as the winner, praising the wonderful colour, structure and flow of his work. Though I wasn’t a judge, I was thoroughly impressed by Dan’s broad portfolio and clear ambition. The calibre of entries was extremely high, so selecting a winner wasn’t an easy task, and the panel was inspired by the writing they assessed.

Awards such as this can be transformative for both a journalist’s confidence and reputation, and I would encourage anyone – particularly young writers – to throw their name into the hat. Whether it’s the Alan Lodge Award or the Spirited Awards, it can’t hurt to enter. And the rewards can extend beyond the accolade itself – they catch the attention of editors, such as myself, hoping to expand their freelance contacts list.

There’s no better feeling than recognition from one’s peers, and this is one of the things I love most about our industry.

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