Two UK bartenders have won membership of new global bartending club, the New Malt Order, and will help to create a new expression of Auchentoshan whisky.
Jack Wareing from Dandelyan at the Mondrian London hotel and Georgia Billing from Plateau in the City of London triumphed in a competition involving 240 selected bartenders from around the world.
They were challenged to create their own unique bitters with Auchentoshan new-make spirit and use them in two cocktails, including a twist on the signature cocktail of Auchentoshan & Ale.
The winning pair will join 10 other winning bartenders from Germany, Sweden, Canada and the USA to form the Auchentoshan New Malt Order 2016. They will work with master blender Rachel Barrie on a new limited-edition Auchentoshan expression for distribution in the on-trade in 2017.
John Cashman, international brand ambassador for brand owner Beam Suntory and one of the judges, said: “As Auchentoshan is the only single malt triple-distilled to every last drop, we are looking for bartenders who also like to do things differently, are not afraid to challenge the status quo and use our whisky to make exceptional drinks.”
The other judges were Mike Aikman, owner of Bramble, The Last Word Saloon and The Lucky Liquor Co in Edinburgh, and Amanda Humphrey from Mixxit, the training and cocktail development arm of UK distributor Maxxium. They scored each serve against three criteria: artisanal, alternative and approachable.
Mike said: “To involve bartenders in the creation of a new whisky is an innovative idea and one which I will follow with interest. It’s an incredible honour for the New Malt Order winners to get to spend time with the Auchentoshan master blender, Rachel Barrie, and have their own product on back bars in the future.
“Jack’s presentation was very well thought out and he used interesting ingredients. His was the only ‘savoury’ drink we saw, which was an excellent showcase for the tasting profile of Auchentoshan Three Wood.
“Georgia’s scientific approach was unique. Her bitters were excellent and her second drink was proof that sometimes keeping drinks simple is the best tactic.”
John added: “Jack brings a classic modern bartending skill, while Georgia brings a scientific approach to her bartending.
“I was impressed with Jack’s foraging approach for his bitters, and this theme continued with his cocktail, which was influenced by druids and mythical times.
“Georgia’s style was more matter-of-fact but her innate understanding of flavour summarised in her own words, ‘What grows together, goes together’, took her drinks to a higher level.
“I’m excited by the prospect of Jack and Georgia joining our other 10 finalists from around the world in helping us create a brand new Auchentoshan expression – by bartenders, for bartenders.”
Georgia commented: “I entered Auchentoshan’s New Malt Order competition to meet other bartenders who experiment with the chemistry involved in making bitters. It’s inspiring to see what drives like-minded people.
“Not all botanicals react in the same way to spirits, infusion techniques, ABV and other variables; any discussion can only aid progression.
“This competition is a fantastic opportunity to learn about manufacturing techniques like blending and distillation. I’m looking forward to being a part of it and meeting the other New Malt Order bartenders. I hope I can give back as much as I can learn!”
The other shortlisted UK bartenders, who presented their drinks at the final judging session at Peg + Patriot in east London this week, were Andrei Marian from The Four Sisters Townhouse, Ernest Reid from Smith & Wollensky, Harrison Knox from Archer Street and Michele Reina from Skylon – all in London – and Sam Mathieson from Dine brasserie and cocktail lounge in Edinburgh.
Pictured left to right: Michele Reina, Harrison Knox, Georgia Billing, Andrei Marian, Jack Wareing, Sam Mathieson and Ernest Reid.