29th JUNE 2023: Matt Arnold is the Diageo World Class GB Bartender of the Year 2023. Matt Arnold of Passing Fancies in Birmingham, wowed a combination of over 40 judges over two days to take the crown and will go on to represent GB in the World Class Global Final, taking place in São Paulo, Brazil in September 2023. As part of this epic prize, he will also partner with The Bottle Cocktail Shop to release an exclusive bottled cocktail of their own making in summer 2023.

This year’s GB final took place on the 26th and 27th of June at Johnnie Walker Princes Street, in the heart of Edinburgh, where the top 10 took to the stage in a series of tasks that showed off their creative flair, personality, and incredible bartending skills.

The GB final consisted of two key challenges – The Singleton Social and the Journey of Flavour challenges:

Challenge one: ‘The Singleton Social with The Singleton’ provided the bartenders with a chance to showcase their passions and personality by creating a Singleton serve to pair with a dish created by global chef in residence, Mark Moriarty. Inspired by their dream social gathering he wowed the judges with a serve that highlighted the flavours within The Singleton of Dufftown 12yr old.

This year’s judging panel for The Singleton consisted of six highly influential drinks experts, including Diageo GB Brand Ambassador Jo Last; Sandrae Lawrence (The Cocktail Lovers); Maura Milia, Bar Manager at The Connaught Bar​; and Iain McPherson, Owner of Panda and Sons​, Adrian Michalcik (Global Winner World Class 2022) and Mark Moriarty, Global Chef in Residence.

Challenge two: ‘Journey of Flavour with Johnnie Walker’ The second and final challenge of the World Class GB 2023 was unique, requiring a grand total of 44 judges… Yes, you read that right! The judges embarked on a one-of-a-kind World Class twist of the Johnnie Walker Princes Street Journey of Flavour tour. Held over four floors, five pairs of competitors were posted along the tour and were tasked with creating a Highball or Old Fashioned, serving and impressing the judges with their signature serve. 

For the Singleton challenge, Matt Arnold combined The Singleton of Dufftown 12YO whisky, plum whey, and Aztec sweet herb to create ‘The Happy Accident’ cocktail which paired perfectly with a dish created by Mark Moriarty; cocoa pod concentrate and passion fruit caramel bon bon, timur pepper. In the Johnnie Walker challenge, Matt Arnold and Emanuele Mensah paired up to create the “Hauf & Hauf Highball” cocktail. Focusing on the fresh flavour profile of Johnnie Walker, Matt and Emanuele worked together to create a serve that brought to life the story of the iconic whisky.*

World Class GB Ambassador, Jo Last, comments: “Over the past 6 months we have seen a new group of bartenders showcasing their creativity, passion and commitment to their craft. The most rewarding part in leading a programme like this, is connecting with bartenders all over the UK and we are looking forward to welcoming more of you into the World Class family next year.  

We are so excited and proud to have Matt representing GB on the global stage in São Paulo this September. Matt has consistently created delicious drinks throughout the competition and is a World Class winner on and off the stage. We look forward to coaching him through the global finals, and I hope all of GB will join us in supporting him however they can in the lead up and when he competes in São Paulo!

World Class GB Ambassador, Pippa Guy, adds: “From start to finish, this year’s World Class competition has been an absolute joy to create, and we could not be prouder and more thankful to all the bartenders who have really given us their all. The amount of time, effort and commitment of the finalists this year has been above and beyond, and the past few days has been inspiring and quite moving.

Matt is a worthy winner and has shown incredible skill, grit, talent and knowledge which is reflected in all the drinks he served throughout the competition all the way through since the entry phase in November. I personally cannot wait to see him on the global stage representing GB and I know the entire country, Birmingham and beyond will be supporting him the whole way.”

Diageo Reserve World Class GB Bartender of the Year 2023, Matt Arnold added: “It’s surreal the fact that I’ve won! Being part of World Class GB has been an amazing experience and I just feel so grateful to be a part of it. I was surrounded by incredible competitors, who I cannot wait to represent in the global finals. A massive thanks to the team that help make World Class the incredible competition it is, and last but not least Lele, Eve and Tommy who I could not have done this without. São Paulo here we come!”

New to this year’s competition, for each challenge, a ‘Challenge Champion’ prize was awarded to the person that really stood out to the judges showing raw passion and skill, as well as room to benefit from mentorship over the next year to take their career to the next level.

The Singleton challenge champion is Emanuele (Lele) Mensah, Lyaness and for Johnnie Walker, Danilo Frigulti, NoMad. These two winners will join the already chosen five champions from the previous challenges over the next year and will enter a series of career progressing masterclasses, events, trainings and mentorship under the watchful eye of World Class GB Ambassadors, Jo Last and Pippa Guy.

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