Glenfiddich’s World’s Most Experimental Bartender competition was a much-anticipated event that gives importance to surprising innovations and new collaborations using Glenfiddich 12. Fans of the brand and the bartenders, as well as members of the beverage industry and whisky enthusiasts, flocked to CCM Events Center at Century City Mall last September 3 to witness the semi-finals of the competition. 

The global competition started in 2016 and opened this year’s global search to contenders from the Philippines. The search aims to foster experimentation through collaborations with specialists from different fields and to develop new and interesting ways of serving the world’s most awarded single malt Scotch whisky. The competition saw bartenders from some of the best bars in Manila pair up with collaborations from diverse fields, such as culinary, coffee, art, digital media, music, and even astrophysics to develop an innovative Glenfiddich serve.

During the semi-finals, the collaborators presented their concoctions to judges—Low Tide Tiki bar consultant Aaron Goodall, DrinkManila.com resident mixologist Dixie Marinas, Manila Peninsula Hotel executive chef Niccola Van Heemsbergen, Glenfiddich regional brand manager Nicole Huang, and William Grant & Sons regional marketing manager (Brown Spirits) SiJie Leaw. The collaborators were judged based on the innovative concept, new techniques for ingredients, appearance and taste of serve, and style of presentation.

Judges—William Grant & Sons regional marketing manager (Brown Spirits) SiJie Leaw, Low Tide Tiki bar consultant Aaron Goodall, DrinkManila.com resident mixologist Dixie Marinas, and Manila Peninsula Hotel executive chef Niccola Van Heemsbergen

The competitors were then given two hours to serve and awe the thirsty crowd, each of whom was given a chip to vote for their favorite and helped choose the top five, who will go to the local finals. After the points have been tallied, the top five were:Abby Quilal-Ian (Bartender, ABV) and Kristyn Ang (Chef/Chocolatier/Owner, Nama PH), Ian Libang (Bartender, Spirits Library and NoKal) and Silvester Samonte (Barista/Co-Founder/Director for Coffee, El Union Coffee and Origin Coffee Network), Jay Natividad (Bartender, Spirits Library) and Brett Bayly (Managing Director, The SABREN Group), Lennon Aguilar (Bartender, 1824 Whisky and Cigar Bar) and Dr. Rogel Mari Sese (Astrophysicist/Program Leader, National SPACE Development Program and Regulus SpaceTech), and Shinichi Ito (Bartender, Versus Barcade) and Kevin Fortu (Barista Trainer/Manager, The Coffee Experience).

5 teams competing Glenfiddich’s Most Experimental Bartender 2018 in PH
Brett Bayly (Entrepreneur, Managing Director at The SABREN Group) and Jay Natividad (Bartender, Spirits Library)
Brett and Jay’s Ice cream serve with Glenfiddich 12 in various toppings to bring out flavors
Dr. Rogel Mari Sese (Astrophysicist/Program Leader, National SPACE Development Program and Regulus SpaceTech) and Lennon Aguilar (Bartender, 1824 Whisky and Cigar Bar)
Dr. Rogel and Lennon served three whisky highballs with Artesian sparkling water and meteorites in ice–Glenfiddich 12 Years, Green Chartreuse, Szechuan peppercorns; Glenfiddich 15 Years, Drambuie, Star Anise, Cloves; and Glenfiddich 18 Years, Grand Marnier, Cinnamon Stick
Ian Libang (Bartender, Spirits Library and NoKal) and Silvester Samonte (Barista/Co-Founder/Director for Coffee, El Union Coffee and Origin Coffee Network)
Ian and Silvester made an Old Fashioned twist called Hunter’s Breakfast using Ethiopian coffee as a bittering agent and milk distillate syrup as a sweetener
Kristyn Ang (Chef/Chocolatier/Owner, Nama PH) and Abby Quilal-Ian (Bartender, ABV)
Abby and Kristyn served Glenfiddich 12 paired with Malagos chocolate with peach-orange-ginger filling, and etag cured pork from Sagada
Shinichi Ito (Bartender, Versus Barcade) (left) and Kevin Fortu (Barista Trainer/Manager, The Coffee Experience (far right) together with their team members
Shinichi and Kevin Fortu served three kinds of whisky concoctions highlighting coffee from Central South America, Africa, and a local coffee from Bukidnon. They served a highball using a coffee distillate; a fruity cocktail using pineapple Tepache, cold espresso, and Amontillado wine; and the third serve–an Irish coffee with a twist.

The five finalists will be duking it out in the local finals on September 19 at Nova Gallery, La Fuerza Compound. Whoever will stand out during the finals will be crowned the first Glenfiddich’s Most Experimental Bartender in the Philippines and represent the country at the global competition in Scotland. Since this is the first competition to be held in the Philippines, it would set the tone for what the judges and the brand are looking for, and will impact the type of collaborations that we will see in the future.

The semi-finals was a treat to all attendees, since it is the first, the experience could use a few improvements for next year. It would be nice to have the bartenders wear microphones and have their presentations screened on stage so the rest of the crowd can see and hear what’s going on and be involved while the judges go through each booth for the presentation. A host who can manage the crowd, get them excited and set the pace for the program would be helpful as well. Some information could be placed high behind the teams on the back of the booths, so everyone can get a hint of what to expect. For the last competition, the music and crowd noise overpowered the event, some of the more subtle collaborations like bartender Nhikko Lacambra and musician Raymart France as well as bartender Richie Cruz and animator/musician Octavius Cajucom whose compositions were drowned out by the loud noise didn’t stand a chance. 

John Silva (Bartender, La Coctelera at Rambla) and Chef Alexandra Versoza (Pastry Chef, Rambla)
The Rambla team served a deconstructed dessert drink made of Rusty Nail spheres and whisky sour caviar
Raymart France (Musician/Digital/Marketing Manager) and Nhikko Lacambra (Mandalay Whisky & Cigars Bar) paired a neat serving of Glenfiddich 12 with music
Roel Diocton (Bartender, La Vita at Marina Bay) and Morgan Martinito (Painter) made edible paint with Glenfiddich 12 and used the paint for painting and their cocktail
Edible paint in whisky cocktail
Richie Cruz (Owner/Bartender, Cobbler) and Octavius Cajucom (Musician/Graphic Designer/Animator) created a 3D animation short film accompanied with music, and served Glenfiddich 12 neat with a leather swatch to enhance the aroma
Glenfiddich 12 neat with a leather swatch to enhance the aroma
A toast to the 5 finalists

Last year’s global winner was Spanish bartender David Kandinsky and artisan ice cream master Santi Gόmez, will it be good or bad for the bartender-ice cream maker team of Jay and Brett? How will the two teams with baristas fare against each other? How will Lennon and Dr. Sese improve on their last collaboration? What will Abby and Kristyn come up with next? Who will be the Philippines’ first representative to the Glenfiddich’s World’s Most Experimental Bartender global finals? We can’t wait to find out on September 19.


UPDATE: Versus Barcade’s Shinichi Ito and The Coffee Experience’ Kevin Fortu bagged the title for Glenfiddich’s World’s Most Experimental Bartender 2018 Philippines.  They will be representing the Philippines at the global competition in Scotland this year. 


The global winner of Glenfiddich’s World’s Most Experimental Bartender 2018 will showcase their serve and skills at two of the world’s most influential global bar shows in Tokyo and New York, and will return to Scotland by 2019 to judge the 2019 Glenfiddich World’s Most Experimental Bartender. For more information visit Glenfiddich’s website or follow updates on Instagram with hashtags #FollowTheExperiment #GFExperiments.

Drinkmanila.com is your learned drinking buddy who can tell you what to drink, what you’re drinking and where to drink. Learn about the coolest and the latest bars in the metro, or the newest beverage or new product out in the market, or have fun creating enjoyable drinks from our features and videos within the comfort of your homes.

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