Jeannette Wentzel writes for us about her experience at the Glenfiddich Most Experimental Bartender Competition.

At the end of September I was a judge on the South African leg of the inaugural Glenfiddich Most Experimental Bartender Competition. Bartenders from all over the country had to collaborate with someone outside of the industry and create a Glenfiddich based cocktail. Six bartender and collaborator pairs were shortlisted and I was fortunate to taste all of their cocktail creations. Alongside me on the judging panel were Bernard Gutman and Trevor Stuurman. The MC for the evening was Gareth Wainwright.

After much tasting and deliberating the winner was Michael Stephenson and Paul Figueira with their “Valley of Time” Cocktail.  They flew off to Scotland to compete in the Global Glenfiddich Most Experimental Bartender competition, narrowly missing out of first place.

Michael is from Durban and the owner of the Lucky Shaker in Umhlanga. He opened the bar nearly 2 years ago after spending some time in the hospitably industry and working as a barman on a luxury mega yacht. The Lucky Shaker not only has cocktails, Mike also boasts an impressive whisky collection.   He has over 116 different whiskies available and the collection is growing every week.

Paul is the co-owner, furniture designer and carpenter of Makers Union, also in Durban. The two of them met 2 years ago through mutual friends and have a shared passion for music.

Their collaboration was really special and I was fortunate to have a chat to them about their creation and the inspiration behind it.

Interview with the Glenfiddich Most Experimental Bartender Winners

Tell me a bit more about the collaboration process you both went through in building the “Valley of Time”.

 I spent a bit of time trying to decide on a direction I wanted to move in and after explaining it to Paul, he was very keen and convinced we could make it work. After a sitting down and highlighting the key features, Paul set to work and put together a 3D model. Paul had amazing insight into the wood we would use and how to get the technical side of the unit to work as planned. The rest of the process happened quite organically. We found little ways to twist and tweak things to make the product as slick as possible. Along the way I was focusing on developing the drink and creating the liqueur to help amplify the Glenfiddich 15yr in our cocktail.

What made Paul choose wood for this collaboration project?  

Wood felt like the natural choice. When Mike approached me he had a strong concept of merging the history of Glenfiddich with the materials they use at the distillery, along with his tasty new cocktail. Glenfiddich ages their single malt in oak barrels and has their own on-site copper smiths so we incorporated those materials into our design.

Tell me about the “Valley of Time” perfect.

Our perfect serve is a visual time-line of some of the most important moments in the history of Glenfiddich, as well as charting some of the flavours you will be experiencing from the drink.

A clear glass / perspex ‘river’ trace along the length of the unit. We pour our drink into the unit and the guest will be able to watch as the drink runs along the river and over each one of the significant points that is mark off along the way. At the end, the drink will exit the unit from a copper tap that will pour it directly into the glass.

The Valley of The Deer, for which William Grant named his distillery as well as the family story, inspires our serve. We have taken inspiration from the copper smiths, cooperage and some of the pioneering processes that the Glenfiddich distillery has implemented over the years.


What ingredients is in your Valley of Time cocktail?

45ml Glenfiddich 15 yr
25ml Ginger Snap Liqueur (a Lucky Shaker house-made liqueur)
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Ingredients are stirred over ice, before being strained through the unit into a chilled glass that has been spritzed with the ginger liqueur essence.

Garnished with a ginger snap biscuit. (You can also taste this amazing Cocktail.  It will be available at the Lucky Shaker after November.)

How does your serve represent the Glenfiddich 15 yo expression that you chose?

This serve is simple enough that it allows the beautiful, rich and complex flavours of Glenfiddich 15yr to shine through, whilst using the liqueur to highlight some of the aromatic spicy notes and bring depth of flavour to the drink. The sweetness will help soften the drink as well as giving it a wonderful silky mouth-feel

Has this collaboration outside of the hospitably industry make you look at cocktails in a different way?

Most definitely. So much of what we try these days, is based around trying to create experiences for guests as well as educate them around the products we use and what they are consuming. Our idea was to try incorporate these aspects at the same time. Just taking myself out of my world for a bit and understanding Paul’s operation has broadened my view of what we can do in the bar and we have already been bouncing around a few other ideas.

Any special story around the name of your bar, Lucky Shaker?

I suppose I always resonated with the idea of having your favourite piece of equipment that you create with and the name seemed to fit what we were going for. Mostly we liked the positive connotation and we wanted to make it quite clear that the Lucky Shaker is a cocktail bar.

On a night out, what Glenfiddich cocktail do you prefer drinking?

Michael: Most likely an Old Fashioned. I like to be able to taste the flavours in my whisky.

Paul: I’m quite partial to a well made Old Fashioned but I most prefer my Glenfiddich with a dash of water or a couple blocks of ice when at home in sunny Durban.

Short URL:

Posted by on Feb 14 2017. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Search Archive

Search by Date
Search by Category
Search with Google
Log in | Designed by Gabfire themes
Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin