Following the inaugural launch of Glenfiddich’s search to find the World’s Most Experimental Bartender, Glenfiddich is looking for the next maverick to take the crown. The global search aims to recognise and reward individuals who collaborate with artists outside of the traditional drinks world in order to create a more surprising, inventive drinking experience. The winner will earn a reputation as The World’s Most Experimental Bartender, with their creativity being showcased globally.
Last year, Nathan O’Neill of New York’s NoMad Hotel took the title for his collaboration with Chef John Taube. The pair co-created a new generation of cooked Glenfiddich cocktails, inspired by the sous-vide cooking technique. Sous-vide is a method of cooking under vacuum, locking in moisture and flavour while ensuring an even result. Other collaboration finalists included; ceramics, videography, edible art, cheese making, sound engineering, game creation, cuisine and furniture design.
Following on from the success of last year, the competition requires bartenders to collaborate with a master of another field to co-create something unique, inspired by Glenfiddich. Finalists from countries around the globe, including the UK, will then be invited on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Glenfiddich Experimental Bartender Academy in Scotland, where they will compete to win the priceless opportunity of bringing their idea to life, supported by Glenfiddich.
The academy is an intense and immersive three-day experience where the UK’s favourite co-creators will learn how to make whisky from scratch. They will have the exclusive opportunity to absorb knowledge from Glenfiddich’s distillery experts; from the mash man to the cooper, the still man to the malt master; and these extraordinary craftsmen will share the techniques that have made Glenfiddich the most awarded single malt Scotch whisky today; including an opportunity to meet with our malt master, Brian Kinsman.
Armed with fresh knowledge and tools, the collaborative pairs will then refine their innovation ideas in order to pitch to a panel of judges which will include; Director of Prestige UK – Kirsten Grant Meikle, Glenfiddich Global Brand Ambassador – Struan Grant Ralph, Glenfiddich Malt Master – Brian Kinsman and High Snobiety.
2016’s World’s Most Experimental Bartender winner, Nathan O’Neill, comments, “Collaboration has always been my greatest source of inspiration; particularly watching, learning, and developing skills from other crafts – so this competition was an ideal opportunity for me. We re-imagined the food pairings of the Glenfiddich ancestors, and created a dish that transported guests back to the Scottish Highlands of previous generations. This is a hugely exciting opportunity!”
Glenfiddich Global Brand Ambassador, Struan Grant Ralph, comments, “Our award-winning whiskies are sold in the world’s finest bars, existing in a space where the demand for co-creation has never been higher. This competition is an opportunity for maverick bartenders to extend the boundaries of the whisky industry – collaborating with masters outside of their trade to create an entry that meets both of their passions, while meeting the hunger for a serve that challenges the industry norm.”
The search for the next World’s Most Experimental bartender starts now, with the closing date for entries in the UK being the 12th June 2017. The UK finalists will be announced on 19th June 2017 and will be selected by the Glenfiddich UK Brand Team and UK Ambassador Mark Thomson, before competing in the UK Final on the 12th July.
Global Finalists will be announced in September 2017, and will take part in the Glenfiddich Experimental Bartender Academy in Scotland in November.
For more details on how to enter and for the full terms and conditions of the competition, please visit http://www.glenfiddich.com/uk/explore/experimental-whisky. All entrants must be over 25 years old and have the flexibility to attend a week-long trip to Scotland in November 2017. There is no cash exchange and the place on the Glenfiddich Experimental Bartender Academy is not transferable.
The Pernod Ricard BEAT Society rolled into Manchester this week with its 6 strong team of some of the UK’s influential and engaging industry figures taking over the new Refuge bar and restaurant in the city centre.
Concentrating on seven categories, the likes of Phil Huckle (UK Brand Ambassador Chivas Regal), Liam Sparks (Irish Whiskey Ambassador), Megs Miller (UK House of Tequila Ambassador), Matthias Lataille (UK Brand Ambassador Martell), Michael Foster (UK Brand Ambassador Havana Club) and special guest Jake O’Brien Murphy of Callooh Callay in London showed off their respective brand and category, but with a twist that offered an insight ‘outside the box’.
With only two more cities out of the initial seven to visit, I thought I’d offer an insight into what you can expect for the day as the BEAT team head to Newcastle (31/01/2017) and Liverpool (28/02/2017).
Prepare to demystify the style of Irish Whiskey and the impact that Jameson and Midleton Distillery have created within the whiskey market as Liam Sparks talks through the process of creation. From both column and pot distillation, to the wood styles within ageing, Liam engages with his knowledge and stories over a couple of drams, including distillates from the column and pot stills, as well as the likes of Redbreast 12yr and Jameson Caskmates.
Following the Irish closely are the Scots, championed by Phil Huckle with his focus on the luxury blend of Chivas Regal. Promoting towards the history of the whisky cocktails and how Chivas Regal have been at the forefront of some of the most iconic classics, experience the styles and profiles of such forgotten gems as the Morning Glory Fizz, as well as last years Chivas Masters winning drink by Chelsey Bailey. You can also hear how you can enter the 2017 edition of the Chivas Masters, as well as experience The Huckster!
Heading to the grape side of the spirit categories, Matthias Lataille shows his insight into Martell by bringing it to the forefront of your mind when modifying your cocktail creations. Sample classic cognac drinks such as the Sidecar using the VSOP expression, as well as twists on staples including the Pierre Collins as Matthias shows his creativity and knowledge on cognac and tips of how to invite your customers to experience.
Special guest star Jake O’Brien Murphy of Callooh Callay in London is on hand for the tour to offer an honest insight into the world of cocktail competitions, using his own experiences of entering competitions, including Jameson and Havana Club, in his career that includes positions within famed bars in Liverpool such as 81LTD. The do’s and dont’s of performance etiquette, how to approach those all important judges, understanding the brief set out, and adapting yourself to the live situation with confidence, Jake goes through the motions of before, during and after as you set out to highlight yourself to your peers and industry figures.
Demystifying tequila is Megs Miller, one of the latest additions to the BEAT Society family, as she focuses on Olmeca and how agave is riding the trend of the bartenders inquisitive. Serving up samples of Blanco, Reposado and Anejo, she’ll guide you through the tequila process, how Olmeca has grown over the years to accommodate changing tastes and attitudes towards the category, as well as her own agave experiences and stories when visiting Mexico and teaching across the world.
You can listen to Michael Foster’s stories too as he talks about Havana Club, with an emphasis on Cuba itself. Diving into how Havana Club has impacted the island in regards to cocktails such as the Mojito, Cuba Libra, Daiquiri and El Presidente, the enjoyment of the traditional recipes of such too, plus an understanding of how these classics have been devised through the stalwart bar scene within Cuba itself.
Mr Jake O’Brien Murphy also talks candidly on the vodka category, with the focus on Absolut and twisting the pre-conception that vodka is a ‘dying category’. He talks about the iconic Pornstar Martini and Cosmopolitan whilst giving his own views on how vodka can be best utilised in any bar through some simple changes.
Of course, no day of learning would be complete without a tipple of Mumm Champagne, with Matthias Lataille guiding you through the brand as you finish off the BEAT Society experience.
If you’re anything like me, having the opportunity to listen to one iconic figure in the industry is amazing, but to have seven in one room, offering their slant on their chosen category, is beyond an experience. Get yourselves signed up to Newcastle and Liverpool, immerse within the BEAT and take it all in.
The 23rd July saw me travelling down to London to a rather prestigious event where some of the elite spirits would be showcased. A rather bold concept, but when you have the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) 2014 winners, who incidentally were announced that very morning for, in one room, it’s an honour to have been offered the invite. Organised by both the IWSC and The Worshipful Company of Distillers, the event was to the 7th annual and held within the Vintner’s Hall.
All gold winners were on display here, with a smattering of ‘Outstanding’ silver winners (197 overall), alongside brand representatives and Master Distillers, so to me it was the perfect opportunity to not only try some of the names I hear so much about, but to also experience, and ultimately compare, the liquid of a winning brand to other similar flavour profiles and categories.
As I tasted a fair few, for ease, below you will find my tasting notes covering a variety of categories –
Bourbon Barreled Big Gin – 47%
Aged 6 months in a once used Kentucky bourbon barrel. Slight wood aromas on the nose with a smooth vanilla scent following. The vanilla dominates the palate, offering a smooth yet dry finish.
Bedrock – 40%
Fresh and fruity on the nose with red berry and liquorice styles dominating. Sharp on the palate with a rather harsh kick of cinnamon creating a very long and very dry finish.
See-Gin Bodensee – 48%
A rather high kick of alcohol, with plenty of aromas including liquorice on the nose. Smooth and aromatic on the palate, but develops with a good kick of liquorice allsorts. A little raw because of this, but produces a lingering finish.
Hernö Juniper Cask – 47%
Lively with heavy juniper on the nose, rounded off with sweet notes. A smooth start on the palate, developing a sharp citrus that creates a lingering finish.
El Tesoro Añejo – 40%
Light caramel on the nose with hints of banana coming through. Smooth, subtle flavours of dry, sun-kissed toffee creating a lingering finish.
El Tesoro Platinum – 40%
Smooth with notes of caramel and kicks of fresh wood on the nose. Very smooth with a banana flavour dominating. A long, fresh finish that’s slightly dry.
Herradura Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo – 40%
Light on the nose with fragrant scents of wood and honey coming through. Again light on the palate, with hits of banana and smooth, fresh agave. A slightly sharp finish that lingers.
Milargro Special Reserve Añejo – 40%
Fresh agave on the nose creates a rather aromatic experience. A rich blend of agave and wood on the palate that’s lively, yet lingers to a dry finish.
Vieux Niesson – 45%
Light with high, aromatic notes of cocoa and spices. A slow burner on the palate, with again light, aromatic flavours of wood, spice and almonds. Long finish.
Rum Company Old Guadeloupe Calvados Finish – 43%
Rich apple and orange notes, with vanilla and dried fruits kicking the end. Very smooth on the palate, with the rich aromatic fruit flavours dominating, followed by delicate sweetness that produces a long finish.
Angostura 1824 – 40%
Soft notes of wood and sugar on the nose with hints of vanilla following. Very smooth and rich on the palate, with plenty of fresh kicks of wood, honey and spice on the lingering finish.
Pays d’Auge 8yr – 41%
Rich apple aromas on the nose, yet becomes lighter once onto the palate. More aromatic styling, with a smooth, rather thin finish that’s surprisingly short.
4 Fundos– 42%
Very aromatic on the nose with fresh, light fruit flavours coming through. Sharp and very dry on the palate, with cereal flavours creating a long finish.
Blanton’s Gold Edition – 51.5%
Light wood on the nose with rich wheat and sweet honey combining soon after. A sharp spice start on the palate, that soon mellows into a sweet, long fudge finish.
Russell’s Reserve Small Batch – 45%
Light and aromatic on the nose with plenty of wood notes before dark caramel aromas step in. Light and thin on the palate, creating a mouth-watering flavour of caramel and wood before hitting a sharp finish.
Blanton’s Original Single Barrel – 66.6%
A bold hit of fruit and sweetness combined on the nose. Incredibly rich on the palate with deep kicks of caramel that creates a long finish.
New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1 – 56.5%
Fresh notes of light wood on the nose combined with sweet spice. Very rich on the palate, with an incredible sooth offering of toffee, banana, dry fruits and chocolate to create a lingering finish.
SOUTH AFRICAN WHISKY
Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky 5yr – 43%
Smooth with a slight whisp of smoke on the nose. Light and thin on the palate, with a slight kick of vanilla and coconut before the short finish.
Gibsons Finest Rare Blended 18yr
Smooth caramelised vanilla blended with fruits appear on the nose. A rich, sharp fruity start on the palate, mellowing down to a sweet vanilla and spice combination.
English Whiskey Company Peated – 43%
Delicate peat nose with hints of green fruit coming through. Short, light peat and some kicks of fruit on the palate.
Säntis Malt Edition Snow White 2 – 48%
Light, fresh, soft fruit on the nose, turning over onto the palate too. Aromatic herbs and spices combine with white fruits to create a lingering finish.
Mackmyra Svensk Reserve Double Wood Elegant– 48%
Plenty of wood and malt on the nose, although a lighter experience once upon the palate. Chocolate and tobacco flavours dominate before moving to a smooth vanilla finish.
Tullamore Dew Special Reserve 12yr– 40%
Smooth, soft notes of citrus and almond on the nose. Slightly sweet on the palate, with citrus, honey and spice combining well for a short finish.
Bushmills 10yr– 40%
Light cereal notes on the nose with hints of floral and raisin. Smooth, light and easy to enjoy on the palate, with vanilla, spice and kicks of chocolate combining for a short finish.
Bushmills 16yr – 40%
Dark fruits mix with deep hits of malt on the nose. Sharp, rich malt on the palate too, although smooths into a short finish of sherry.
Bushmills 21yr – 40%
Light, aromatic nose of sherry and fresh fruits. Cinnamon and liquorice combine on the palate, with a long finish of the sherry and malt.
Teeling Vintage Reserve 30yr– 46%
Fine, light caramel notes on the nose, with rich almonds following. Sharp start on the palate, but mellows into a light malt, honey and spice blend that creates a lingering finish.
Redbreast 15yr – 46%
Aromatic ripe fruit on the nose, with a soft malt finish. Plenty of barley and vanilla on the palate creating a rich and slightly sweet finish.
Grant’s Voyager – 40%
Rich on the nose with smooth cereal notes and ripe fruit. A combination of honey, fruit and chocolate dominates the palate, creating a rich, sweet lingering finish.
Ballantine’s Limited Deluxe Blend – 43%
Ripe berry and barley blend on the nose, with hints of citrus cutting through. A sharp start on the palate with vanilla countering the citrus for a long finish.
Grant’s Deluxe 18yr – 40%
A lively cereal nose with a good blend of toffee and honey. A light offering on the palate with toffee and ginger, mixing with hints of spice on the short finish.
Glenmorangie Signet – 48%
Light notes of toffee, fudge, chocolate and cinnamon blending together on the nose. A developing sharpness to a ripe malt kick, which mellows towards the short, rich finish of stoned fruit.
Glenmorangie 18yr– 43%
Light on the nose with citrus and fresh white fruit dominating. A developing kick of spice on the palate, followed by a dry, fruity finish.
Glenglassaugh 30yr – 44.8%
Smooth, dried fruits on the nose, followed by a light offering of raisin on the palate. A good kick of malt and spice on the finish with hints of tobacco.
Glenglassaugh 40yr – 42.5%
Rich chocolate and toffee notes on the nose. Burnt wood blends with nutmeg to create a long, rich, deep offering.
The Dalmore 25yr– 42%
Soft vanilla on the nose with hints of dried fruits and citrus. Soft, smooth oak that warms flavours of chocolate and toffee into rich offerings.
Glenmorangie 25yr – 43%
Light cereal notes combined with coffee and dried fruits on the nose. A slight citrus kick on the palate with honey, subtle spice and oak flavours creating a long finish.
Glenfiddich 125th Aniversary Edition – 43%
Aromatic scents of wood on the nose, with plenty of ripe fruits following. A good citrus burst on the palate, with a developing richness of malt and sweetness, leading to a whisp of smoke on the finish.
Glenfiddich Malt Master Speyside– 43%
Soft toffee and honey combine on the nose with ripe pears. Very soft on the palate, with sharp fruit, spice and vanilla offered on a short finish.
Some absolute crackers available, despite missing out on the likes of vodka, cognac and brandy, fruit spirits, shochu and armagnac as well as the names I’ve already had the pleasure of experiencing (Elmer T. Lee, Southwestern Distillers, The King’s Ginger, Mozart Gold and Col E. H. Taylor Jr the stand out missing expressions from the above list).
One expression that has truly surprised me was the New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1, coming in at a hefty 56.5% and hailing from Australia. This whisky has dominated my conversations of the event to anyone who will listen to me! One that I will be sourcing as soon as possible so I can enjoy a country that granted, you wouldn’t expect to get a good spirit from, especially compared to their wines, but have raised their output considerably and most importantly, winning a gold medal that highlights their work and effort.
Congratulations to them, and to the rest of the winners!