Caorunn Gin Storytellers Competition – Full Report

Monday 3rd September saw the final of the Caorunn Storytellers Global Competition in Edinburgh’s Bramble Bar. And Gintime was there to help judge the winner.

We can honestly say that the Competition was one of the most innovative and truly creative cocktail comps we’ve ever seen challenging the world’s bartenders to create a new Caorunn cocktail and showcase the story behind it.  The cutting edge contest stirred up the competition in England, Scotland, Spain, and the US, where a series of national heats took place to crown the best bartender from each country.

The three international finalists, William Underwood from England, Leslie Ross from the US and Maria Mayora from Spain arrived in Scotland to hook up with resident finalist Iain Griffiths of Bramble and get a flavour of the country, courtesy of Caorunn Gin. Their five day itinerary included welcome drinks in some of Edinburgh’s top bars and a trip to Balmenach Distillery, where Caorunn is produced, for a private tour of the gin plant with Gin Master, Simon Buley. They also enjoyed a Caorunn infused Speyside dinner, a Highland Games experience complete with a visit by The Royal Family, and a bespoke cocktail master class to inspire them for the final.

Throughout the afternoon global final, the bartenders were asked to reproduce their winning cocktail from the national heats, the cocktail being inspired by Caorunn’s Scottish heritage and five Celtic botanicals – rowan berry, coul blush apple, bog myrtle, heather and dandelion. They were also asked to submit an additional concoction inspired by their visit to Balmenach Distillery. Whilst at the distillery they were given twelve ingredients to produce the drink, which needed to include an additional ingredient brought from their home.

Our fellow judges were Simon Difford of Class, Ryan Chetiyawardana, Creative Director of Mr Lyan and Caorunn’s Brand Ambassador Ervin Trykowski, and, whilst it was a tough call to pick the winner as each contestant contributed something unique in the end it was Iain’s exceptional cocktail – ‘The Damson Chamber’ that won the day. Iain was inspired by the smells of both Balmenach Distillery and early mornings in Edinburgh, which he said were a mixture of breweries and mist and the perfect combination for a walk home after a late shift at Bramble. To create the drink he used a mixture of ingredients, including an unusual combination of damson berries steamed with juniper and rowanberry.

Iain took home a cash prize of £1,500, as well as being honoured with the title of Caorunn Global Storyteller 2012, with his winning drink being promoted worldwide as a signature Caorunn cocktail.

As Caorunn Brand Manager Ibolya Bakos explained: ‘Caorunn is delighted to host this new competition to champion creativity across the globe. The innovative ideas behind the finalist’s cocktails have been outstanding and perfectly tie-in with Caorunn’s reputation as a modern, sophisticated gin with a rich heritage.  Iain’s winning cocktail is a truly original, inventive drink and the story behind it is exciting and inspiring.  The competition was very close and Caorunn is delighted to have witnessed some of the world’s best bartending skills.’

Iain’s winning cocktail – The Damson Chamber Cocktail

50ml Caorunn Gin

25ml Brewdog Never Mind The Anabolics

25ml Rotovap Apple Syrup

2 Damson Berries steamed with Juniper and Rowanberry

3 Drops of Jade 1901 Absinthe

Method: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and ‘throw’ for 10 seconds.  Pour into a chilled coupette glass.  Serve, sniff and enjoy.

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