The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2017

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Page 69 of 148

january/february 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  69 They were testing pH levels of water samples drawn from Robbie Dhu spring. Jeneé Craver, Head Bartender at Philadelphia's World Café Live, beamed from ear to ear. "This is where William Grant came in 1887 to find his source of water; it's still the spring Glenfiddich uses to produce its award-winning single malt whisky," she said, sweeping her hand away from the cairn, past grazing sheep and down toward the revered, family-owned distillery nestled in the valley below. Craver is one of ten finalists in the inaugural World's Most Experimental Bartender competition, sponsored by Glenfiddich and The Tasting Panel. Billed as "not a typical cocktail competition," maverick bartenders and crafty artisans from outside the drinks industry were challenged to collaborate and "push the boundaries of convention" in search of innovative and inventive serve concepts. This quest for the best lured applicants from around the world, with finalists hailing from Australia, Columbia, Dubai, Germany, India, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, as well as two teams from the United States: Craver and Sound Engineer Matt Schwalm; and Head Bartender Nathan O'Neill and Sous Chef John Taube from Michelin-starred The NoMad in New York City. The finalists and their collaborators gather for a ceremonial photo at the site of Robbie Dhu spring in Dufftown, Scotland, accompanied by Global Brand Ambassador Struan Grant Ralph (left), Glenfiddich staff and author Cliff Rames (right). On a frosty November morning, worlds away from the bright lights and city sounds of their homes, an internationally diverse group of bartenders and their collaborators huddled around a rustic stone cairn in Speyside, Scotland. Craver's "Creation Song" cocktail, a harmonious blend of Glenfiddich 12 Year Old, lemon-pear syrup, heather, sliced pears and Dillon's lemon bitters. To serve, Craver smoked the glass with dried rosemary smoldering on a Sherry cask stave.

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