The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2017

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march 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  55 This year, another batch of bartenders will have their chance to compete for the trip to New Orleans, where one will win the cash prize and the Master of Moonshine title. In a series of semi-finals across the globe, Ole Smoky Moonshine will invite bartenders to create cocktails that showcase Ole Smoky's mixability. "This competition is a great opportunity for us as a brand to engage with the best mixologists and bartend- ers in the country," says Michael Bender, President of Wholesale for Ole Smoky. "Being a non-traditional brand means we still need to continue to grow our on-premise business, and turning to bigger and better ways like the Masters of Moonshine competition helps to engage our on-premise customers." And there's plenty of engaging to be done: This year, contestants will be challenged to create a cocktail using both Ole Smoky Blackberry Moonshine and the 100-proof Ole Smoky White Lightnin'. "Blackberry Moonshine is our number one on-premise flavor," continues Bender, "but its only challenge is that it is 40 proof out of the jar. It's incredibly delicious, but adding the White Lightnin' to the mix will allow bartenders to raise the proof to something that's more appropriate for a cocktail." With a challenge set, bartenders from Knoxville, Nashville, Cincinnati, Dallas and Jacksonville will go head-to-head in a series of regional competitions (see sidebar for dates), but twists are coming before the competition even kicks off: This year's competition field has expanded to include Australia! "Bartenders here love it," says Georgina Wright, Sales Director for Artisan Handcrafted, which distrib- utes Ole Smoky Down Under. "At the beginning, it was a novel idea for a consumer to order a moonshine cocktail, but now, the customers order it because it is a delicious product." Ole Smoky's popularity in Australia isn't the only key factor motivating bartenders to enter the competition: Like their U.S. counterparts, Australian bartenders are prize- oriented. "The prize being a trip to Tales of the Cocktail is a huge draw and will put Ole Smoky at the forefront of bartenders' minds for the next six months. In Australia, it is a dream come true for a bartender to make the journey to Tales. Being able to participate in the Masters of Moonshine means our bartenders will not only be compet- ing for themselves, but for all of Australia." No matter where the finalists come from, at the end of the day snagging the the third Masters of Moonshine title will require their mixology brains to be firing on all cylinders. "We'll be looking to see some very creative cocktails that show how versatile Ole Smoky is," says Bender. "Creativity and originality in their cocktail design," chimes in Wright. So no matter which hemisphere you're in, if the Masters of Moonshine competition is headed your way, your shot at glory remains! Email for more info about how you can enter this year's competition. Michael Bender is the President of Wholesale for Ole Smoky Moonshine. Semi-finals dates and cities are listed below. Cincinnati, OH: March 13, 2017 at Smoke Justis Knoxville, TN: March 20, 2017 at The Parlor at Maple Hall Nashville, TN: March 21, 2017 at Cabana Dallas, TX: March 27, 2017 at Brick & Bones Jacksonville, FL: April 10, 2017 at Flight 747 Lounge Email for more info on entering. Master of Moonshine Heads to Australia Video Submission Cut Off: Victoria and New South Wales: March 8, 2017 Queensland and Western Australia: April 11, 2017 State Finals: Victoria: March 21, 2017 New South Wales: March 23, 2017 Queensland and Western Australia: April 18, 2017 PHOTO: VAN GALLIK Ready for your shot at the title?

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