Unwrapped – The Other Side of Bartending


William Grant & Sons’ UK Brand Ambassador team will be hosting the first ever Unwrapped: The Other Side of Bartending event in Edinburgh on 29th October. This event, exclusively for bartenders, features a series of talks aiming to support modern bartenders find their legacy within the industry and equip them with tools, knowledge and insights beyond jiggers and shakers. This will be followed by immersive brand experiences and an evening bar takeover where all proceeds will go to charity partner SANE.

Unwrapped’s focus is centered on Brand Ambassador-led talks, designed to be thought-provoking, engaging and specifically relevant to the on-trade; providing attendees with new skills and perspectives, as well as the opportunity to network with like-minded peers and old friends. Sessions will cover subjects ranging from how to keep up team morale and the power of storytelling, to exploring the link between nature and creativity. Following the talks, Alessandra Brugola from the drinks industry charity, The Benevolent, will introduce their latest campaign #notalone.

Unwrapped will be held at Assembly Roxy, and will include immersive brand experiences in the afternoon – from entering the miniscule yet momentous world of Hendrick’s Gin Tini Martinis to making and photographing Monkey Shoulder’s Lazy Old Fashioned.

On Monday evening, a full William Grant & Sons bar takeover at The Voyage of Buck will take place, where the entire UK Brand Ambassador team will get behind the bar to raise money for SANE. The charity partner was chosen by the Brand Ambassadors due to its focus on mental health – a key topic within the bar industry.

Cocktails on the night will include:

The Disaronno Cherry Apple – Disaronno, fermented cherry, 30/40 and soda. Created by Three Sheets, London.
The Balvenie Pina Colada Specs – The Balvenie Caribbean Cask, Coco Lopez, pineapple Juice, cream, milk and a dash of Angostura bitters.

Fabiano Latham, Reyka Vodka UK Brand Ambassador says: “Unwrapped is a great opportunity for all the brand ambassadors to share experiences and insights from the industry, as well as the passion we have for our brands. We want to create a benchmark for industry training programmes by delivering an engaging and interactive event where on-trade teams can come together and truly benefit in years to come.”

Lachlan Rooney, Manager at The Voodoo Rooms Bar says: “The William Grant & Sons team is coming to town with what looks to be one of the most incredible series of seminars to grace the city since Tales on Tour. Bartenders best bring a notepad and pen for the series of talks and activities that could truly make a tangible difference to a career and the local bar community. From practical engagements to empathetic advice on building yourself as a brand, the event covers every aspect of bartending that you’ve never even thought about. With free food, drinks and transport alongside priceless career advice it’s not one to miss out on.”

Unwrapped agenda: Monday 29th October

UK Brand Ambassador Talks 11:00-15:30

Mark Thomson, Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador to Scotland presents: The power of storytelling
Fabiano Latham, Reyka UK Brand Ambassador presents: Adventurivity – exploring the link between nature and creativity
EmmaLi Stenhouse, Sailor Jerry UK Brand Ambassador presents: How to be your world’s best bartender
Alwynne Gwilt, The Balvenie UK Brand Ambassador presents: How to train your nose
John Wayte, Monkey Shoulder UK Brand Ambassador presents: /bar:ography/
Sasha Filimonov, Hendrick’s Gin UK Brand Ambassador presents: How to be newsworthy
Calum Fraser, Premium Spirits Specialist presents: Keeping good spirits in good spirits
Rod Elsamieh, Disaronno UK Brand Ambassador presents: From bartender to bar owner – the tips and tricks to opening your own bar
Stephanie Rainbow, Tia Maria UK Brand Ambassador presents: The courage to be happy
Alessandra Brugola from The Benevolent will introduce their new campaign #notalone

Brand Experiences 15:30-16:30

To attend, please email wgsuk.events@wgrant.com or speak to one of the BA team

Takeover at The Voyage of Buck, 19:00 till 11pm

WG&S Takeover with the UK Brand Ambassadors behind the bar with all proceeds taken over the course of the evening being donated to charity partner, SANE. The party is open to everyone, 18 years old and over.

William Grant & Sons UK Appoints Fabiano Latham As Reyka Vodka UK Ambassador

Independent family distillers, William Grant & Sons UK has today confirmed that former Chotto Matte Bar Director, Fabiano Latham, will take on the role of UK ambassador for Reyka Vodka, as of January 2017.

Fabiano’s new role as the Reyka UK ambassador will see him focus on generating brand awareness, building brand advocacy and bridging communication between the brand and consumer, bars & restaurants, retailers, distributors and press.

Gwilym Cooke, Brand Manager at William Grant & Sons UK said: “With his vast experience and exceptional reputation in the on-trade, Fabiano is the perfect candidate to take on the role of UK ambassador for Reyka. His innovative nature, creativity and passion for the industry will be key for the work he does with the team and our on-trade partners.”

Fabiano said: “I can’t wait to work with Reyka for so many reasons; it’s a truly unique product within the vodka category and like myself, an inventive spirit. I am fascinated with the provenance of brands and also the art of flavour pairing. The story of Reyka’s production and the versatility of the liquid itself suits this passion perfectly.”

Fabiano will take over from Joe Petch who has held the role since 2013. Joe will be taking on a new role as Global Brand Ambassador for William Grant & Sons UK brand, Monkey Shoulder Triple Malt Scotch Whisky.

William Grant & Sons UK’s Brand Ambassadors Host The Highland Festival 2016

Team Balvenie Bootcamp
Following the success of last year’s inaugural Highland Festival, William Grant & Sons UK hosted round two at Haggerston Park on Sunday 21st August. The UK’s top bartenders battled it out to win an immersive trip to Scotland hosted by Lesley Gracie, Master Distiller of Hendrick’s Gin, and UK Ambassador, Ally Martin.

This year saw nine teams compete for the title, with Team Reyka coming out on top, winning the crown and a once in a lifetime prize. “My team did me proud and consistently outclassed in the series of random challenges. They are a great group and I can’t wait to celebrate with them.” – Joe Petch, Reyka Vodka UK Ambassador. Team Reyka included Aidan Bowie from Dandelyan, Russell Burgess from Loves Company, Dan Bovey from B@ONE Bristol, Anna Sebastian from The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy, Aaron Masonde from Oblix at The Shard, Alastair Fraser from Little Bat and Iain McPherson from Hoot the Redeemer and Panda and Sons.

The competitors were faced with new and exciting games including Dash and Grab, Bootcamp Challenge and Last Man Standing along with 2015 favourites, The Ramos Fizz Cocktail Relay and Tug of War. Participants and spectators were kept well nourished by the awesome team at Patty & Bun, with the iconic Sailor Jerry Air Stream bar serving up cocktails from across the William Grant & Sons UK portfolio including the Hendrick’s Cucumber Collins and the Sailor Jerry Highland Vice. The Reyka Vodka ‘make your own’ Bloody Mary station made a comeback and Señor Scoop cooled everyone down with their adult ice creams.

Matt Sayer, Senior Prestige On-Trade Manager, William Grant & Sons UK, commented: “After the success of the 2015 Highland Festival, we had no other option but to bring it back, this time bigger and better! It’s the perfect setting for bartenders to enjoy their day off and for our ambassadors to engage with the on-trade, showcasing their brands in a fun and informal setting.”

Anna Sebastian, from Beaufort Bar at The Savoy, commented: “What an amazing day! Seeing so many people from our industry, from all over the UK come together was pretty special. Seeing old friends and making new ones, it’s events like this that bring us together and make a good industry great. Thank you to the William Grant & Sons UK team for such an organised and well-executed event.”

· Team Glenfiddich, led by ambassador Mark Thomson
· Team The Balvenie, led by ambassador James Buntin
· Team Hendrick’s, led by ambassador Ally Martin
· Team Monkey Shoulder, led by ambassador Grant Neave
· Team Sailor Jerry, led by ambassador EmmaLi Stenhouse
· Team Reyka, led by ambassador Joe Petch (2016 Champions)
· Team Disaronno, led by ambassador Rod Eslamieh (2015 Champions)
· Team Wood’s, led by Rum Specialist Stephen Rutherford
· Team Ancient Reserves, led by Whisky Specialist Alwynne Gwilt

Worlds’ First 24 Hour Cocktail Competition


REYKA, Iceland’s first vodka, handcrafted in preciously small batches and born from the country’s magnificent natural resources has announced the world’s first 24hr cocktail competition. Bartenders across the UK will have the chance to win one of six places on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Iceland. They will be one of the privileged few to visit the Reyka distillery, visit majestic towering waterfalls and lava rock fields, witness lava rock filtration, taste the freshest water in the world and go to the critically acclaimed Secret Solstice Festival in Reykjavik.

Reyka continues to innovate in the vodka category with this unexpected and entirely original concept, taking inspiration from the 24 hours of sunshine in Iceland on the longest day of the summer solstice. The competition will be held at Sovereign Loss, Brixton, from 12pm on Monday 1st June until 12pm on Tuesday 2nd June 2015. Ninety-six bartenders will each prepare a cocktail they have created over a 24hr period, with a panel of judges on hand to rate each drink on appearance, aroma and taste. With one drink being made every 15 minutes, the competition will be fierce to secure one of the coveted spaces on the Reyka hosted trip.

The competition is open to all professional bartenders in the UK. Entrants will need to register for a one-hour slot in which to prepare their cocktail – which can be as inventive as they like (long, short, shaken, stirred etc.) as long as the base ingredient is Reyka vodka (max. 50ml).

Reyka Brand Ambassador Joe Petch says: “The Reyka 24hr cocktail competition was inspired by the creativity and resourcefulness of the Icelandic people, and the 24hrs of sunshine on the longest day of the summer solstice. We wanted to create an unconventional competition that will excite the bartending community and inspire them to be creative and do things a bit differently. The trip to Iceland for the Secret Solstice Festival is a fantastic prize and we’re looking forward to seeing what cocktail recipes are created”.

To enter the competition and be in with a chance of winning a place on the trip, bartenders should register for their cocktail making slot by emailing: reyka24hr@margaretlondon.com

Reyka is born of inventive, resourceful people and Iceland’s magnificent natural resources, which are uniquely distilled to create a one of a kind vodka. Made from bountiful crisp arctic water, some of the cleanest air in the world and filtered through lava rocks Reyka is then distilled in a carter-head still for ultimate purity. The process is powered by geo-thermal energy to create an award-winning vodka that tastes smooth, clean and crisp, making it a perfectly versatile spirit for cocktails.

The Secret Solstice Festival (19th – 21st June 2015) is held during the summer solstice weekend in Reykjavík, Iceland. Now in its second year, Secret Solstice is the only festival where the sun doesn’t set for three entire days, with festival-goers enjoying an unforgettable experience under the Midnight sun.  Showcasing both established artists and exciting up-and-coming talent; the festival has something for all music tastes.

Please drink Reyka Vodka responsibly.

William Grant & Sons UK Hosts Pilot ‘Winner Takes All’ Regional Cocktail Challenge Championing Bartenders

WTA winners

William Grant & Sons UK held an event at Reading based cocktail bar RYND last week, encouraging up and coming talent, outside of the capital, to showcase their skills. This first national Winner Takes All cocktail competition showed some amazing bartending talent whilst at the same time saw some of the William Grant & Sons UK portfolio of brands featured in original and inventive cocktails.

38 bartenders, grouped into 12 teams showcased their cocktail making skills and were judged by William Grant & Sons UK brand ambassadors from spirit brands: Sailor Jerry, Monkey Shoulder, Reyka and Disaronno. They were judged on the quality of their cocktail making skills from accuracy, to creativity and style. Participating bars competed for a complete back bar of spirits from the William Grant & Sons UK portfolio.

The competition focused on four unique challenges: The ‘Speed Sour’ led by Disaronno ambassador Rod Eslamieh, the ‘Twisted Martini’ hosted by Reyka ambassador Joe Petch, the ‘Saturday Night Simulator’ concocted by Monkey Shoulder ambassador Grant Neave and the ‘Sailor Jerry Tiki-Off’, presented by Sailor Jerry ambassador EmmaLi Stenhouse.

Congratulations to the winning team: Matt, Matt and Colette from B@ONE in Reading, took home the entire back bar full of the William Grant & Sons UK portfolio. With the winning team based in Reading, where the competition was hosted, the prize didn’t have far to travel.

Joe Petch, William Grant & Sons UK Reyka Brand Ambassador, who led the competition, commented: “I started my career in Reading so for me this competition was really an opportunity to bring together like-minded bartenders from around the country – away from the usual capital city focus – and showcase some great up & coming talent. We saw some genuine originality from the participants using some of the William Grant & Sons UK brands: Monkey Shoulder, Reyka, Sailor Jerry, and Disaronno.

“The competition was a great success and was thoroughly enjoyed by competitors and spectators alike. This is an event we will definitely be doing again.”

The Next Bartender Robot . . . . .


REYKA vodka Global Brand Ambassador Joe Petch has unveiled his latest bartender robot; a charmingly unconventional and resourceful invention – the Reyka Chainsaw Shaker.

The Shaker, which Joe plans to use over the summer, was created using 3hp petrol Husqvarna chainsaw, some scaffolding and other scrap parts. Joe said; “After shaking who knows how many cocktails in more bars and events than I can even remember, I decided I wanted to build a cocktail shaking machine. My challenge was: Build a powered cocktail shaker that, like Reyka, is resourceful and requires minimal exertion from the bartender.”

“After lots of integral research & testing we have worked out that we can perfectly shake 10 x Reyka Ramos Fizz cocktails in around 25 seconds after prepping them. Joe has also created a series of inventions including the Reyka Martini Dispenser and Hot Toddy Machine.

Reyka, Iceland’s first vodka is born of volcanoes and glaciers and handcrafted in preciously small batches by inventive people with creative minds.  Born from a country separated from the world and surrounded by magnificent natural resources it is filtered through lava rock and born of towering waterfalls of arctic spring water and some of the cleanest air in the world. It boasts a smooth-taste, silky finish and distinctive flavour, which makes it a perfectly versatile spirit for cocktails.

Reyka Designs Innovative Martini Machine To Guarantee The Perfect Serve

Reyka Martini Dispenser

The UK Ambassador for Reyka, the premium Icelandic vodka, has invented a Martini Dispenser that delivers perfect, ice cold Reyka cocktails every time.

Fuelled with a mix of Reyka vodka, vermouth and limited edition Reyka bitters; at the push of a button the Martini Dispenser pumps the cocktail through flash coolers that chill the liquid down to -18 degrees Celsius before neatly dispensing it from a brass tap into your martini glass. All that’s needed to perfect the cocktail is a final red grapefruit zest garnish.

Joe Petch, UK Brand Ambassador for Reyka, commented: “With several events on the horizon, I’ve been looking for a way for guests to serve their own perfectly cold Reyka Martinis. The machine we came up with reflects the inventive culture of Iceland, where people do things a little bit differently but also in a resourceful way – reinventing unwanted or unused objects to fulfil another purpose.”

“The continued growth in cocktails has meant that consumers are hungry for new and interesting brands, unique serves and creative bartending. More than two thirds of consumers are willing to pay more for a unique serve in the on-trade*, so being able to create the ‘perfect serve’ has never been so important.”

The Rekya Martini Dispenser was unveiled at Fortnum and Mason on Tuesday 9th December and will appear at various UK bars throughout 2015.

Kick Start Summer With Reyka Vodka Summer Solstice Cocktails


The summer solstice is a national holiday in Iceland. In ‘the land of the midnight sun’, locals make the most of the 24 hours of continuous sunshine by packing in as many dinners, parties and festivals as possible.

Reyka, Iceland’s first vodka, is celebrating the holiday in the UK with summer solstice kits which have been placed in top bars to encourage bartenders to create innovative cocktails for the longest day of the year.

60 kits will be made available nationwide. The rugged packing crate contains information on the summer solstice and Iceland, sun jars, a terrarium, Reyka Icelandic bitters and a flavour mapping cocktail guide.

UK Reyka Brand Ambassador, Joe Petch will be visiting accounts using the Reyka summer solstice kits looking for creativity and inventive serves, and the top six bartenders will win a trip to Iceland to visit the home of Reyka vodka.
Alongside the on-trade kits, Reyka has created a series of solstice cocktails to encourage celebration of this year’s summer solstice in true Icelandic style. Eight Reyka cocktails have been developed, each with an inventive twist, taking inspiration from Iceland’s 24 hours of sunshine over the summer solstice.

Senior Brand Manager for Reyka vodka at First Drinks, James O’Connor commented: “Summer solstice is a major event in Iceland and a real source of creativity and inventiveness for islanders. We want to bring this spirit and energy to the UK with Reyka, and share it with UK bartenders.
“Vodka is still the most popular spirit in the on-trade and we’re seeing top bartenders getting more and more creative with it. We’re excited to see the kinds of serves the kits inspire and look forward to sharing the Icelandic experience with the six winning bartenders.”
Celebrated on Saturday 21st June this year, the summer solstice is a significant event in the Icelandic calendar. The day is marked with 24 hours of celebrations, festivals and activities.

Reyka Bitters Tasting Notes


Bitters can be a bartenders best friend. Most bars will have a box full of wonderful flavours, all adding a different dimension to your favourite drink. From the most famous to the most extensive, your never short on possibilities, both in a bar or indeed at home. It’s also common these days for collaborations, creating a brand with ties with a big brother. Reyka vodka from Iceland has done such a thing in the last month, releasing their Reyka Bitters to the market.

Created by Reyka’s Master Distiller Lesley Gracie, she used botanicals such as Icelandic moss, angelica leaf and crowberry juice, all sourced from Iceland itself. To keep it exclusive, she has only produced 300 bottles, available in the UK only, and indeed only for the on-trade for the time being. 

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes – 

Reyka Bitters – 40%

Light and fragrant angelica on the nose with a slight sweetness of honey coming through. A bold start on the palate, with the honey becoming more dominant, followed by the sweetness of caramel that creates a short mouth-watering effect. Superb. 

A really lively tipple, especially compared to other brands of bitters. Reyka recommend it to be served best within one of its signatures too –

Bitter Reyka

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

50 ml Reyka vodka
2-3 drops of Reyka Bitters

Method – 

Pour the Reyka vodka over a couple of cubes of ice and add the bitters.

To coincide with the launch of Reyka Bitters back in March, William Grant (the company looking after Reyka Bitters here in the UK) ran a foraging expedition to Iceland with Reyka brand ambassador Joe Petch, for a group of British bartenders. For an expedition like this, and to really see the enthusiasm that Lesley Gracie had to create something a little different within the bitter category, must have been fantastic. To see a brand willing to open its world of not just how to produce, but to an extent how to create, is a rare treat, one that I hope to explore in the future! 

In the meantime, join me at the bar with a bottle of Reyka and some of their bitters. It’s time to enjoy.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Please Don’t Tell Vintage Cocktail Night Review

Buffalo Trace - Brown Derby

It was all a bit hush hush, but the team at Mullen Bartending put together a little shindig to celebrate all things classic. Held at the new speakeasy The Fitzgerald off Stevenson Square in Manchester (a fitting venue for the theme of the evening), a collaboration of five spirits accompanied by cocktails and canapés were the  order of the evening.

Hosted by co-founders Sean and Chris, they started off with local gin producers Hunters and a personal favourite in a Negroni. Equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth went up against a good 40ml of Hunters to really bring out the tart palate. The sweetness from the orange garnish bought the scales more level, but indeed, not a bad way to start off the evening.

To the opposite end of the scale now, with the introduction of Buffalo Trace. The Brown Derby cocktail enjoyed a healthy dose of the Kentucky based bourbon, stirred with grape juice and sweet vermouth. This 1930’s Los Angeles originator came over more sweeter than I imagined, but for a man with a sweet tooth, it balanced well. The grape juice boost the profile, almost kicking its way through the vermouth.

Reyka Martini
Reyka Martini

A well-known brand to me came third in line, with Excellia representing the tequila part of the evening. The Reposado expression came within the classic Margarita – a combination of tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and sugar. Unfortunately, a good dose of Excellia would have made this the highlight of the evening, but the 35ml of this delicate tequila seemed to have been lost within the citrus based flavours.

The Icelandic Reyka vodka also came within a classic, this time the Martini. Having a good dose of Reyka, stirred with 20ml Antica Formula and Icelandic bitters made this my personal favourite for the evening. Not too tart, with the Reyka base bringing a well-rounded feel for a consistent finish. Perfect.

Lastly, the new rum to hit the Manchester market in Ron Cubay made a lasting impression for the final cocktail of the evening, the Daiquiri. Utilising the Cuban expressions of the 3 and 7yr, the double mix made for a surprising blend which sharpened the finish and brought out the fruit notes nicely.

Mixed with canapés from the Rosylee Tearooms below, and a good mix of discerning drinkers, the variations that Mullen Bartending put together came through nicely, with the Reyka Martini a particular stand out. Good use of new brands with Ron Cubay and Hunter’s, combined with an old favourite of Buffalo Trace and lesser known names like Reyka and Excellia made the evening varied. The Hunter’s team were present on the evening too, giving an insight into their gin which rounded off a rather intriguing evening.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.