entrepreneur, mentor, author and philanthropist.

Born in Livingstone, Zambia in 1943 and educated in Cape Town, South Africa, before being transferred to London in 1977.

Spent over 50 years in business, starting in the grocery trade before moving into the liquor industry and, in latter years, becoming a Consultant, Mentor and a Non-Executive Director of a variety of companies.

A large part of my career has been working internationally, building and creating brands and also identifying and employing people who have gone onto Make Your Mark.

Together with my partner and friend, Tom Jago, launched Le Piat D'Or, Malibu, The Classic Malts, Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Chivas Regal 18 amongst others. Responsible for the growth of Baileys in its early years, a brand invented by Tom - which failed in research and he thus hid the research - this would certainly not happen today, "research is after all, an aid to judgement, not a substitute for judgement".

Of course we had a number of failures but it would take up too much space to talk about them! What is important is to learn from failure and mistakes.

In 1988 involved in the creation of The Keepers of the Quaich, Scotland’s leading Whisky Society, which honours those who make a contribution to this great industry and Chairman at the turn of the century.

As a young man, obtained B.Com and MBA degrees, and later completed two action learning PhDs in Marketing and Strategic Planning.

In June 2013 awarded an OBE for Services to the Whisky Industry in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

In 2014 published “Make Your Mark – 100 tips to build your personal brand and succeed in business”. It is an easy read with illustrations and anecdotes based on success and failure over 50 years and aimed at helping anyone seeking to advance their career. One reviewer called it, "a £15 MBA from the University of Life".

A contributor to a number of journals and periodically give lectures to business schools and senior management in a number of companies.

In 2015 made an Honorary Fellow of the Marketing Society of Great Britain for services to Marketing and Brand Building globally.

In 2022 published "365 Quotes to Accelerate Your Career & Find Balance in Life". It's filled with the wisdom I’ve gleaned throughout my career and life. But to make the advice stick, it’s all shared in the form of short, easy-to-digest personal quotes, as well as from famous figures, innovators and business leaders.

James Espey

June 2022 appointed Chairman – The Wiltshire Whisky Distillery Company. Set in the heart of South West Wiltshire, 12 miles from Stonehenge, the beautiful nine-thousand-acre Fonthill Estate provides the perfect setting and surroundings to make the finest English whiskies.

I am honoured and humbled to have been listed by the Top 100 Influential People as one of their  2023 winners. The programme’s ethos is that change-makers should be afforded every opportunity to spread their message, and I am proud to see my life’s work in business and philanthropy recognised in this way.

The Next Chapter

Besides spending time with my beautiful family, my life going forward will focus on mentoring and supporting the causes that are important to me. Please contact me on : james@jamesespey.com