The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

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Page 85 of 134

While the judges can only officially name a first-place winner, they recognized two more competitors with honorable mentions for their inven- tive and highly memorable serves: Seamus Banning of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Stephen Kurpinsky of San Diego, California. Banning's Eye of Balor serve—an ode to the ancient Celtic god—infused Glenfiddich 12 Year Old with the multifaceted flavors of szechuan pep- percorn, coriander, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, orange peel, and lemon peel by slowly funneling the spirit through a Kyoto drip tower (typically used to make cold brew coffee) containing the mixture of herbs, peels, and spices. In an effort to create what he called an "all-inclusive experience," he served his Old Fashioned–inspired cocktail in hand-carved limestone rocks glasses alongside a highly rated Ashton Symmetry Belicoso cigar. While the judges didn't actually smoke the cigars during the presenta- tion, they experienced a similar effect as they lifted the glass dome over Banning's cocktail to release the smoke of dried jasmine buds and rosemary. "For people who don't smoke cigars, but maybe want that little bit of flavor, this is a really great way to introduce that," Elie said. Kurpinsky, meanwhile, also served a riff on an Old Fashioned in his Dufftown by Candlelight serve. He began his presentation by recalling his first night behind the bar: Within the first hour, a man sat down and ordered a dram of the Glenfiddich 12 Year Old. "I certainly didn't think that years later I would be standing in front of all of you in Dufftown in Speyside getting a chance to visit this beautiful facility here," Kurpinsky said. "What I take from this whole experience and really whisky in general, espe- cially in Dufftown, is that there's always been a tradition of quality and excel- lence and crafts- manship, and my experiment today is all about embodying that craftsmanship by doing everything for this cocktail in front of your very eyes." After flambéing a syrup of vanilla bean, cinnamon, star anise, coffee beans, coriander, orange peel, sugar, and 151-proof demerara rum to bring out the spice characteristics of the Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera Reserve, Kurpinsky added aromatic bitters and Pedro Ximénez Sherry to further enhance the beautiful Sherry notes that end up in the final product of Glenfiddich 15. And, of course, any bartending competition wouldn't be complete without some pyrotechnics: Served with Walkers Shortbread, Kurpinsky's cocktail also featured dehy- drated lemon slices set aflame before the judges savored their first sip. july 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  83 Sons team members who led the bartenders on a tour of the distillery. After working briefly at a limestone quarry, he wanted to open his own in order to better support his family, but after a deal for land fell through at the last minute, Grant—by then the father of seven sons and two daughters—was left adrift. The family nearly moved to the Caribbean to establish a sugar plantation instead ("If they had done that, you might've been drinking Glenfiddich rum," Campbell quipped), but they remained when Grant took a job at the well-established Mortlach Distillery instead. He soon developed a passion for whisky, and after spend- ing years toiling as a bookkeeper and, eventually, distillery manager, he left at age 47 and purchased a site in the Conval Hills that remains Glenfiddich's home today. On Christmas Day 1887, the first spirit ran from the stills, "and as of the Christmas Day past, we've been in production continuously for 130 years under the same family ownership," Campbell said. After infusing Glenfiddich 12 Year Old with a mixture of herbs, peels, and spices using a Kyoto drip tower, Seamus Banning presented an Old Fashioned– inspired cocktail alongside an Ashton Symmetry Belicoso cigar as part of his Eye of Balor serve. The Honorable Mentions: Seamus Banning and Stephen Kurpinsky Stephen Kurpinsky flambéd a syrup of vanilla bean, cinnamon, star anise, coffee beans, coriander, orange peel, sugar, and 151- proof demerara rum to complement the Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera Reserve in his Dufftown by Candlelight serve.

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