Savoy bartender to switch continents after Auchentoshan win

Auchentoshan Switch Neil Donachie

Neil Donachie (pictured) from the Beaufort Bar at The Savoy in London is to swap continents to work in New York City after being named European winner in the Auchentoshan Switch competition.

He triumphed in a series of challenges against eight talented bartenders from the UK and other countries in Europe, creating cocktails with Auchentoshan Three Wood whisky.

Neil’s prize will be to “switch” continents next year with the North American winner and spend two weeks working in Employees Only in Manhattan – one of the world’s best bars.

The European final was judged by Rachel Barrie, master blender for Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch whiskies, with 2013 Auchentoshan Switch winner Aidan Bowie of Dandelyan bar at hotel Mondrian London at Sea Containers, and Danilo Tersigni, general manager of Mr Fogg’s – the Mayfair bar that will host the North American winner.

Held at Looking Glass Cocktail Club in east London, it featured a series of rounds where the finalists had to demonstrate their skill, creativity and knowledge. The first round, “Creativity and Presentation”, saw the bartenders present their original competition entry using Auchentoshan Three Wood.

The judges then shortlisted the competitors down to three for the second round, “Working Under Pressure”: Neil plus Michael Cameron from Guy’s Restaurant in Glasgow and Adrian Schulz of Ciba Mato in Stuttgart.

The three bartenders demonstrated their ability to think on their feet as they were handed a mystery bag of ingredients just minutes before their presentation.

The European final was the culmination of a four-month process where bartenders from the UK, Sweden and Germany were required to upload their Auchentoshan Three Wood cocktail creations to The entries were shortlisted down to 30, with the bartenders invited to attend regional heats.

Alasdair Dickinson, global brand ambassador for Auchentoshan, said: “This year’s Auchentoshan Switch was even bigger and better, with such a high calibre of entries and huge support from the bartending community. The finalists really impressed the judges last night with their individual talents, pulling out all the stops to showcase their creativity, passion and knowledge.”

Rachel added: “I was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and inventiveness of this year’s finalists as they intelligently and artistically interweaved tales of Auchentoshan with unexpected ingredients and plenty of panache to bring to life Three Wood in new and creative ways.

“The recipes were deliciously daring presented by a fascinating and eclectic mix of finalists, who together showcased the unexpected and multi-layered charm of Three Wood.”

Danilo said: “We had some really great characters competing last night, each with very different attributes, which didn’t make our job an easy one. In the end, it was Neil’s scientific methodology and knowledge that put him on the plane for NYC. I’m really happy for Neil and I’m sure he will represent Auchentoshan well and with elegance.”

Aidan, whose prize last year included working at Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in Manhattan, said: “The standard this year was incredibly high and we saw so many different styles of drinks being made which is testament to the versatility of Auchentoshan.

“Neil stood out as his drinks were extremely well executed and he had a very clear thought process behind both. Mystery box rounds are always difficult, but he managed to remain calm and make a really tasty drink by thinking about why the ingredients work together. He’s going to have an amazing time in New York!”

Neil joined the Beaufort Bar earlier this year after previously working at Popolo and No 28 bars in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Auchentoshan Three Wood is the chosen expression for all Auchentoshan Switch entries as its complex flavours add tremendous dimension to whisky cocktails. As with all Auchentoshan whisky, Three Wood is triple distilled, which produces an immensely smooth spirit. It is matured in three different types of casks – first in North American ex-bourbon casks, then in Spanish oloroso sherry casks and finally in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks.

Pictured below: the finalists and judges

Auchentoshan Switch

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