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Youngest ever MW

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Institute of Masters of Wine has welcomed seven new members into its ranks, including the youngest-ever Master of Wine (MW) and the first Finnish MW.

At 28, Ken Mackay, a buyer for Willoughby's in Manchester, becomes the institute's youngest-ever member. Everyone was very welcoming and supportive despite my age. I also did well on the scholarship side, which helped. It was a great experience... although the workload was signficant,' said Mackay, who passed both the exams at the first time of asking. Essi Avellan, 30, editor of the Scandinavian Fine Wine Magazine, becomes the first Finnish MW.

Two Harpers contributors, writer and broadcaster Sarah Jane Evans and New Zealand's Paul Tudor are also among the new MWs.

Sarah Jane Evans commented: I'm absolutely delighted and now I am looking forward to getting some balance back in my life, from a family point of view. You forget how hard it can be on them when you undertake a project like this and I'll be pleased to take my kids to the cinema instead of my husband having to do it and I'll enjoy reading novels rather than always reading wine books!' Evans added that she will now get on with writing some books'.

There are also three other new MWs: Lisa Granik is the fine wine manager of Empire Merchants in New York; Geoff Labitzk, of Sonoma California, is vice president of Young's Market Company, a large US wholesaler, where he is responsible for all imported wine sales, and is director of education; and Rod Smith is the wine manager for Mentzendorff, a London-based distributor.

Patrick McGrath, chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine, said: These results demonstrate the phenomenal effort of our students and educators in preparing for an exam that is the pinnacle of wine trade education, and has always been exceptionally challenging.

I congratulate all our new MWs on their considerable achievement. I am particularly pleased with the growing international spread of the institute. Last year I said that I hoped to welcome our first Finnish member before my term as chairman ended, and I am delighted to be able to do so.'

A further nine candidates have now passed both parts of the written examination (theory and tasting), and have only their dissertation to complete.

All new Masters of Wine, including Katherine Richardson MW, who passed earlier in the year, will be presented with their certificates by the Master of the Vintners' Company at the Institute's Annual Reception and Awards Ceremony on 6 November 2006 in Vintners' Hall, London.