Glenfiddich Launches Malt Mastermind Bartender Competition


Glenfiddich, the UK’s number one single malt Scotch whisky, has announced the launch of this year’s Malt Mastermind competition. Returning for the fifth year, the competition calls on bartenders to showcase their flair and creativity by crafting a signature serve, this year using Glenfiddich 14 Year Old Rich Oak, Glenfiddich 15 Year Old or Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Distillery Edition.

The competition has introduced some new features for 2014. These include inviting more finalists to join the final – twelve instead of six in previous years – and the inclusion of a ‘wild card’ entry. For the first time, the competition will focus on the brand’s 15 Year Old variant.

The judging panel will also include two new judges this year. Joining Mark Thomson (who helped judge last year’s Malt Mastermind) will be Kirsten Grant Meikle, a William Grant & Sons family member and Director of Prestige at the company and Roman Foltan from The Artesian in London.

The final will take place in London on 17th November 2014. All finalists will be required to showcase their serve at the final, as well as take part in an additional challenge to be revealed on the day.

The inaugural wild card entry will be Jamie Ireland from G&V Royal Mile Hotel who reached the final last year and impressed the judges with his creativity when making his ‘Scotsman, Frenchman and an Englishman’ serve.
The competition is being promoted via digital advertising, trade PR and social media. The deadline for entries is 24th October 2014.

Sarah Harding, Senior Brand Manager for Glenfiddich, comments: “Year on year, the calibre of bartenders entering the competition has only improved with some exceptional serves and creativity showcased. We are looking for someone who really understands the pioneering spirit of Glenfiddich and someone who has great knowledge of the category, the complex structure of the liquid and how flavours can be used in serves to really complement the whisky and create interesting drinks.

“We are also excited to have Kirsten and Roman on board for the first time too. Both bring exceptional levels of knowledge and expertise to the table and we have no doubt, will inspire and enthuse our finalists.”

Bartenders wanting to enter the competition should visit They will be required to complete a short online entry form, including details of the serve they would create using the Glenfiddich 14 or 15 Year Old variants.

The winner of the competition will be invited on an all-expenses paid VIP trip to the Glenfiddich distillery where they will sample some rare expressions and gain access to parts of the distillery not open to the general public. They will receive £1000 cash and the chance to be on the judging panel in 2015.

Balvenie Academy Tasting Review

Kicking off my week of festivities was a trip on the Underground to Liverpool Street and the quietly hidden away Liberty Lounge and Mark Thomson of Dramatic Whisky. Mark heads up the tasting with expertise in Scotch as well as being part of 5* establishments in both Scotland and London. A former contributor to CLASS magazine (as well as last years London Cocktail Week), his enthusiasm for the subject is immense! With the time of day being an unfortunate factor, the event turned into a more one-on-one masterclass. A quick talk about the Balvenie 24 and their interactive venture involving videos of the distillery, as well as nosing techniques, we then made our way to Boisdale whisky bar.  

Here we met the global ambassador to Balvenie, Sam Simmons and the Balvenie range of Signature, DoubleWood, Single Barrel and PortWood. Both Sam and Mark explained the history of Balvenie and how it started with William Grant back in 1893. From their, we started to try the Balvenie range, first up being the Signature 12yr.

Below are my tasting notes on the 4 bottles available –

The range of Balvenie whisky to taste



Balvenie Signature 12yr – 40%

Matured first in bourbon, then refill bourbon and finally in sherry casks. On the nose, a very soft aroma of corn with honey and vanilla essences coming through later. The palate enjoys dried fruit balanced out with a soft spice that drives into a warm honey after-taste.

Balvenie DoubleWood 12yr – 40%

Starting its maturation in a traditional whisky cask, it is then transferred to a first fill European oak sherry cask. Sweet, rich aromas of fruit and honey mix together in your nose, but mellowing out into a smooth blend of raisin, nut and a slight cinnamon hint.

Balvenie Single Barrel 15yr – 47.8%

Created using only a single oak whisky cask of a single distillation. Each bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 350 hand-numbered bottles, meaning each bottle is unique and unrepeatable! The nose of soft corn and citrus with heather blended well in the nose and made its way onto the palate in the same manner, but a kick of oak and spiced apple hits you at the end. Sam recommended adding a drop of water to the dram, which gave it a spicier longer after-taste.

Balvenie PortWood 21yr – 40%

A blend of rare Balvenie is moved to port casks to create a strong yet fresh floral aroma with sweet notes and a hint of smoke on the nose. An extremely smooth and creamy flavour of fruit and honey on the palate.

My personal favourite was the Balvenie DoubleWood 12yr due to its sweetness and blend of raisin and cinnamon on the palate.

This was a great insight into the Balvenie range, especially as I’ll be visiting the distillery in January next year, and it has introduced me to yet another great personal favourite which I’ll be sourcing to put onto my shelf in the coming weeks!
Visit the Dramatic Website here –

Check out the rest of the Balvenie range here –


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