The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

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82  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2018 While Anderson's collected yet laid- back presentation (she was the only competitor to make herself a cocktail to toast alongside the judges!) made a lasting impression, her serve's ability to simultaneously act as an homage to Scotland, Glenfiddich, and her farm, Willowthorne, south of Chicago lent it an alluring authenticity that proved irresistible. Anderson presented the serve— made with Glenfiddich 14 Year Old, Drambuie, Green Chartreuse, carda- mom, housemade coffee bitters, and a lemon-twist garnish—in indentations carved into unfinished wood rounds branded with the iconic Glenfiddich stag. The wood rounds also served as the base for two carved ox horns filled with herbs, including lavender and heather she had foraged near the dis- tillery in a moment of what she called "last-minute inspiration." The Glencairn glasses themselves, meanwhile, were smoked with rosemary to supplement the serve's herbal character. "Because we live and die by the sea- sons at the farm, I wanted something that was able to translate with whatever season it was in," Anderson explained. "I first presented the serve in late November when we had rosemary and lemon thyme; my hope was to come to Scotland and have that available to me, but at the same time I wanted to go out and see what I could actually grab." By evoking both the Scottish land- scape and her farm alongside a cocktail incorporating "luxury" ingredients, Anderson said she sought to communi- cate the concept of duality through her serve. "I'm a farmer, but I call myself a gentle lady farmer," she said with a smile. "I like my fast cars, my good food, and my shoes, but I also like to hang out on the farm. I wanted this to be a very rustic serve, but the cocktail itself is very elegant." At The Drifter, the tiny, speakeasy- style bar where Anderson serves as Bar Manager, Heather & Hearth offered a rare opportunity to serve a large-format, shared cocktail that didn't skimp on high-quality ingredients or a compelling backstory. "This was really popular in our bar, because everything there is extremely visual," Anderson said. "We have these old wooden tables that date back to Prohibition, so they looked absolutely gorgeous and created a lot of buzz and excitement. For a tiny bar, we're fairly high-volume, so this was something I was intend- ing to be replicated—it's something Glenfiddich could take and put in other bars if they'd like." And while Anderson had selected the Glenfiddich 14 Year Old for the "floral elements" it imparts, she said she's open to trying other variants of both the spirit and the herbs for the version she'll present in the final. "The idea with the herbs in the bar is that the cocktail or the garnishes will change slightly depending on seasonality," she explained. "Glenfiddich works so hard to ensure that what is in that glass is a world-class spirit, so if I get to add to that, I better make sure what's in that glass is world-class as well. I can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but if what's in that glass isn't impressive, I've failed. Coming into this competition, the one thing I was absolutely confident in is that I made a great cocktail." The aforementioned last-minute inspiration came in many forms, but the most personal source for Anderson was the small, leatherbound book she passed around to her fellow competi- tors to sign in the days leading up to the competition. When she began her presentation, she told the bartenders they'd "unknowingly helped [her] with [her] serve" and started a tradition she hoped to continue in her future travels. "I think for me what really brought home the idea of sharing was that little book and being able to get everybody to sign it and create this sense of com- munity and camaraderie, and being able to have that in conjunction with the presentation of the cocktail," Anderson later told The Tasting Panel. "It helped me remember and really understand what the competition was all about—it helped keep me grounded." As she looks ahead to the finals, Anderson said she's honored to not only represent the U.S., but to serve as an ambassador for her fellow stateside competitors. "I think what I'm looking most forward to is keeping in touch with the people I've met here, tak- ing inspiration from them and their programs and serves, and being able to move that forward to represent the U.S. in the finals," she says. "I'm not just representing the U.S. as an abstract thing: I'm representing them, and that is massive for me." Established in 1887, William Grant & Sons now commands a global footprint that extends far beyond the realm of whisky: In addition to Glenfiddich, the company's portfolio today includes Balvenie, Monkey Shoulder, Hendrick's Gin, and Reyka Vodka. But it all started with the brand emblazoned with the now-iconic stag: Glenfiddich ranks among the top single malt Scotch whiskies in the world, but its humble beginnings hardly indicated the growth and sheer output it would eventu- ally achieve. The distillery produced 14 million liters of whisky in 2017 alone, but 130 years ago, it was simply the fulfillment of a dream 20 years in the making. With his family growing rapidly, William Grant sought to "stand on his own two feet," according to Gregor Campbell, one of two William Grant & Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador Mitch Bechard with winner Jill Anderson. A Worthy Ambassador for a "World-Class Spirit" The Road to Glenfiddich

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