Auchentoshan flicks the switch

Glasgow-based whisky brand Auchentoshan completed the UK leg of The Auchentoshan Switch, a cocktail competition that offers two bartenders transatlantic internships.

For winner Martin Ball of Corridor in Manchester, a two-week switch to New York's Apotheke awaits, while the US champion - who will be announced later this week - will earn a fortnight's work placement at 69 Colebrooke Row in London.

15 bartenders, from a total of 64 entries, took part at the UK event at Village Underground in Shoreditch. The competition was designed to promote the single malt's Three Wood expression.

In the first of three rounds bartenders were judged on a pre-prepared cocktail, while in round two the narrowed field of five were presented with six ingredients from which they were required to make a cocktail with at least two.

The judges of the competition were Neil Ridley of Caskstrength, Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row and Giles Looker of Soulshakers.

Conigliaro said: "They were made to think on their feet [in round two]. What we were looking for was something simple with good balance; a great drink."

Ridley added: "It was hard, there were a lot of ingredients. The best ones didn't choose to use too many, or used complimentary ingredients."

In round three the two remaining bartenders were asked to present an Auchentoshan 'master class' on stage for a period of five minutes.

The presentations were of contrasting styles but it was the well-rehearsed, interactive performance of Ball that won over judges.

Looker said: "I was genuine impressed with the standard of drinks and the 'talk-off' was very good."