Monday 3rdJune saw the first of three heats in the inaugural Glenfarclas 105 Cocktail Competition, launched on 14thApril 2019 (the 105thday of the year). The Glasgow heat was held in the Glenfarclas Private Dining Room at Hutchesons Bar and Brasserie. A brief introduction, and tasting of Glenfarclas 105 with Distillery Manager Callum Fraser took place prior to the cocktail makers getting behind the bar to showcase their Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength Cocktail. The three judges: Callum Fraser; Glenfarclas, Louise Gallagher; Pol Roger Portfolio and Mike Lynch; Bramble Bar watched eagerly. It was a hotly contested competition, however we eventually chose our top two winners. Kevin Carr of Urban Bar and Brasserie in Glasgow impressed us with his ‘Green Grass Fizz’ cocktail, the name paying homage to the meaning of Glenfarclas; ‘valley of the green grass’. Cal McMillan of Mini Bar also impressed with his creation ‘Mast to the Cask’, a play on the tradition that the first to spot the ship from the mast gets the first nip of the cask.
Monday 10thJune we moved east to Edinburgh for the second of the three heats, held at ‘Scotch’ within the Balmoral Hotel. Our eager bar tenders again enjoyed an introduction and tasting of Glenfarclas 105 with 6thgeneration family member George Grant before taking their place behind the bar. Our three judges George Grant; Glenfarclas, Louise Gallagher; Pol Roger Portfolio and Jon Hughes; Bramble Bar had the difficult task of choosing another two bar tenders to invite through to the final. Kirsten Webb from Forgan’s, St Andrews impressed us with her ‘Sunset Song’ cocktail based around the craftsmanship, farming and sunsets at the distillery. Leonardo Giacomello from China Tang, London also impressed with his ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ reflecting on the first time he had a dram of Glenfarclas 105.
Tuesday 18thJune we moved north for the final heat of the competition; Aberdeen. The heat was held in the new Freedom ‘N’ Whisky Bar within the Sandman Signature Hotel. Again, the bar tenders enjoyed a brief introduction and tasting of Glenfarclas 105 with George Grant before taking their place behind the bar. After tasting some fantastic cocktails the three judges; George Grant, Louise Gallagher and Mike Lynch chose our two final winners of the competition heats. Robert Beaton from The Malt Room, Inverness with his cocktail ‘Red Splash’ and Joe Nelson from The Tippling House, Aberdeen with ‘Kauto Star’ both aptly named after Cheltenham winning horses.
All 6 finalists will travel to Glenfarclas Distillery on 22ndJuly for a full tour before taking to the stage in The Ship Room to present their cocktail to the final judging panel: John Grant; Chairman of Glenfarclas and 5thGeneration Family member, first lady of the distillery, Ishbel Grant, Louise Gallagher and Peter Donnelly; Pol Roger Portfolio and Mike Lynch; Bramble Bar.