So this year welcomes two brand new challengers in the shape of Editor, Rob Allanson and Editorial Manager, Sam Coyne. Both are tasters for various magazines, including this one, American Whiskey Magazine and Rum magazine.
The twist this year will be that the two contenders have to create a blend based on a classic whisky cocktail.
The final whisky, which should be ready by Whisky Live London for judging, must try to mimic or replicate the chosen drink.
Sam will be aiming to achieve an Old Fashioned in whisky form. This classic cocktail has a long and illustrious history behind it. The first use of the name ‘Old Fashioned’ for a whiskey cocktail was said to have been at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club founded in 1881 in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe was said to have been invented by a bartender at that club in honour of Colonel James E. Pepper, a prominent Bourbon distiller, who brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.
Whatever its myth-shrouded roots, the drink enjoys legendary status. As its conception was linked to the city’s history, in 2015 Louisville named the Old Fashioned as its official cocktail.
Rob has decided to take on the celluloid inspired Blood and Sand, oft missed out of the whisky cocktail canon, but again a true classic. What is certain is that the recipe first appeared in Harry Craddock’s 1930s The Savoy Cocktail Book. However, there is thought to be some fable-spun history behind the drink before that.
Some say the drink was created in 1922 to celebrate the box office smash of Rudolph Valentino’s Blood and Sand bullfighter film – based on the 1909 novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. But as with the Old Fashioned, no one knows…so naturally the credit falls to Harry Craddock for featuring the recipe in his book years later.
The casks are currently being seasoned by Master of Malt ready for Sam and Rob to start their creations.
Once ready, drams of each blend will be sent to our readers around the world for judging and results will be announced in 2019.
Now competitors… go forth and blend! May the best blend win.