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Liquid Icons & Gérard Basset Foundation announce recipient of inaugural diversity scholarship in spirits

Published:  05 October, 2022

Liquid Icons, the fine wine research and content production company founded by the late Gérard Basset OBE MW MS and Lewis Chester DipWSET, have announced the recipient of the inaugural Hennessy Golden Vines Diversity Scholarship in Spirits.

The scholarship is worth £55,000 and will cover the cost of the Scholars’ WSET in Spirits Studies, plus an intense and varied 12-month internship programme with Hennessy in Cognac. 

A total of 16 applications were submitted in 2022, hailing from 11 different countries, comprising more than 12 nationalities and ethnicities. In addition, more than half of all applicants were women, in a further boost for diversity.

The scholarship is being funded by Hennessy and the Gérard Basset Foundation from monies raised at the Golden Vines Awards Ceremony & Dinner to be held in the Palazzo Vecchio Salone dei Cinquecento in Florence on October 16, 2022.

The winner was chosen by a judging panel comprising Ian Harris MBE DipWSET for the Gérard Basset Foundation, Julien Pepin Lehalleur and Maurice Richard Hennessy for Hennessy Cognac.

The scholarship was awarded to China's Jian Cao, Master’s student at the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Portugal.

Julien Pepin Lehalleur, brand education & training director of Hennessy Cognac, said: “Being a first for Hennessy, we were happily surprised to raise so much interest, both in the number of applicants but above all in the diversity and the quality of the profiles. 

“It was anything but easy to select the ‘best’ candidate as we found many interested and interesting profiles. 

“We look forward to welcoming Jian Cao at Hennessy in Cognac in 2023 and are also happy to proudly support financially two other valuable candidates to pursue their WSET studies.”

In addition to awarding the scholarship, the judges were so impressed by two further candidates that the Gérard Basset Foundation and Hennessy Cognac have offered to fund their WSET in Spirits Studies.

The candidates were Nikan Jooyani, originally from Iran and now head waiter and sommelier at Caffe Concerto, Italy; and Dominique Solomon, a South African freelance wine writer and content creator.