The first five finalists of this year's Diageo Reserve World Class UK final have been revealed.
The five were whittled down from 50 semi-finalists who were challenged yesterday in four unique and stimulating sessions where their skills, adaptability and spirit knowledge were all put to the test.
Each session paid homage to the ‘Mindful Drinking' theme of the competition, with the bartenders invited to incorporate one of the following Diageo Reserve brands in their cocktail creations; Talisker, Singleton, Cardhu, Ron Zacapa, Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve and Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Haig Club, Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye.
The five finalists chosen were: Liam Broom (Callooh Callay), Tim Laferla (City Social), Sean Fennelly (Milk & Honey), Kyle Wilkinson (Blind pig), and Scott Gavin (Rosewood Hotel).
They will now compete in the UK final in May, where they will join an additional five UK finalists (to be announced in May, following the phase two semi-final; ‘Fruit and Plants'), for the chance to be crowned Diageo Reserve World Class UK Bartender of the Year 2016.
The judging panel, consisting a host of industry experts, will include the head of World Class UK, Dan Dove, as well as Diageo Reserve brand ambassadors Andrea Montague, and Colin Dunn, the World Class ambassador for Western Europe Max La Rocca, and the UK winner of World Class 2015 Ali Reynolds.
Ali Reynolds, Diageo Reserve World Class UK winner 2015 said: "I'm very honoured to be a judge in this year's World Class competition. After being part of the process last year I feel I'm in the perfect position to offer hands-on experience and knowledge to bartenders entering this year, especially as the competition brought out the best of my skillset and enabled me to reach a whole new level."
The 2016 UK World Class champion will be awarded with the title and represent the nation at the global final, which will be held in Miami, USA, in September. They will also be invited to travel worldwide to educate and identify new talent, and become a mentor or judge in the following year's competition. In addition, the owner of the bar in which the UK winner works will receive a one off £10,000 marketing fund to create their own World Class ritual serve.
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