Buffalo Trace Cocktail Competition


So the photo above is of eight of Scotland’s best bartenders… and me. “How did that come to pass at 2pm on a Monday afternoon?” I hear you ask. Well, a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be asked along to The Bon Vivant to take part in the judging of the Buffalo Trace Barrel Aged Cocktail Competition. This competition involved eight of the nine chaps in the photo above all grappling with the barrel aging technique. Prior to the competition, each bartender was given a small cask in which to age either Buffalo Trace White Dog (new spirit) or the mature Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon for a minimum of 24hr. The task was to then create a cocktail centred around the barrel aged liquid with the winner being taken to Kentucky in October to visit the Buffalo Trace distillery.

The competitors were:

Gordon PurnellVoodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
Grant NeaveMonteith’s, Edinburgh
Kyle JamiesonThe Bon Vivant, Edinburgh
Jack CoughlanThe Last Word Saloon, Edinburgh
Scott IngramBlytheswood Square, Glasgow
Ervin TrykowskiThe Finnieston Bar, Glasgow
Adrian GomesThe Tippling House, Aberdeen
Alex LawrenceOrchid, Aberdeen

The creativity, flavour and finesse on show was immense. Each bartender took their turn in describing their cocktail and the inspiration behind it before making it and being scored on it. Memorable highlights of the afternoon include Grant describing how he recharred the barrel to almost alligator spec in order to give the liquid even more smoke and BBQ notes, and Scott who seasoned his cask with coffee and served his cocktail over sizzling stones with slices of cured Buffalo meat. Ervin went fishing with a mint tea bag (above) and Alex almost blew my co-judge Martin Duffy’s head off with his Ghost Chili Tincture. If this sounds both ridiculous and amazing in equal amounts then fear not, each bar will have their barrel aged cocktail on their menu until February so there’s plenty of time to taste them! Martin and I were hard pressed to choose a winner, but with only one seat available on the plane to Kentucky our arms were twisted.

The lucky winner was Kyle from The Bon Vivant (above) with his “Kentucky River #113”. He really impressed with his thorough knowledge of the history of Buffalo Trace, the fact he’d aged his whiskey for 113 hours (which is a reference to the first pot still at the distillery), and the lengths he’d gone to in order to prepare his own orange liqueur with White Dog; which he called Orange Dog. The full recipe is;

40ml Buffalo Trace
25ml Cocchi Americano
15ml Orange Dog
5ml lactart acid
Absinthe spray

He then aged this mix in his barrel, which was seasoned with Malbec, and served straight up with a garnish of orange zest. To make the orange dog, he zested five oranges and let them sit in a bottle of White Dog for five days. In truth, this liqueur could be sold on its own it was that good! It was a fantastic competition and thanks to those at Buffalo Trace for inviting me to help judge it. A big congratulations to Kyle from all of us here at Edinburgh Whisky Blog, enjoy Kentucky!



Book us for a tasting

Book Us For A Tasting! Looking for a whisky tasting experience? Look no further! We've hosted thousands of tastings catering for all budgets and themes. Let us tailor a bespoke whisky experience for you - click here or drop us a line now at edinburghwhisky@gmail.com!

Connect with us

Find us on Facebook!    Follow us on Twitter!    Follow us on Instagram!    Connect with me on LinkedIn!    Subscribe to us on YouTube!    Email us!   

Judging honours & awards

Icons of Whisky Communicator of the Year 2020            World Whiskies Awards Judge Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards Judge         Independent Bottlers Challenge JudgeJudge Global Scotch Masters Judge           Scottish Whisky Awards Judge EWA Certificate                    EWA Diploma