WhistlePig names John Esposito chairman

18th March, 2019 by Nicola Carruthers

Vermont-based rye whiskey producer WhistlePig has made a number of changes to its board of managers and appointed former High West Distillery CEO John Esposito as chairman.

High West Distillery’s John Esposito is the new WhistlePig chairman

Esposito brings 40 years of experience to the role, having previously held the positions of CEO at High West Distillery, CEO of Bacardi North America and president of Stoli USA. In January this year, Esposito was named chairman of the board at Gem & Bolt Mezcal.

Esposito will take over the role from Roland van Bommel, who will retire from the board. Van Bommel served as WhistlePig’s interim CEO in 2016 and 2017, then as chairman, after transitioning CEO responsibilities to Jeff Kozak. He will remain a shareholder in the company.

WhistlePig has also hired Jason Newell as its new chief marketing officer. Joining from Rossingol Group in North America, Newell will be responsible for building on WhistlePig’s existing marketing footprint domestically and internationally through events, media partnerships and content creation collaborations.

Furthermore, WhistlePig has also appointed Barnaby Hawken to the role of chief sales officer. Hawken joins from Swish Beverages where he was the national sales manager. He has previously worked at Pernod Ricard, The Wine Group and Allied Beverage.

Hawken will manage WhistlePig’s regional brand chiefs and help grow the brand domestically and abroad.

Former Constellation Brands president Marty Birkel, and Reza Sultan, principal of BDT Capital Partners, have joined the WhistlePig board of managers.

Kozak said: “WhistlePig is thrilled to add Marty and Reza to our board of managers, and also welcome Barnaby and Jason to our in-house executive management team.

“They each bring a unique skill set to the company, which we know will allow us to grow the brand considerably both in the US and internationally over the coming years.

“I, along with the board of managers, would also like to thank Roland for his considerable effort and oversight to help the company achieve its current success.”

WhistlePig co-founders Wilco Faessen, Chris Evison and John Rhea will remain members of the board of managers.

In February this year, WhistlePig sold a minority stake of its business to investment banking firm BDT Capital Partners to expand its international reach.

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