Bartender Luke Sanderson of Melbourne cocktail bar The Black Pearl has been crowned the 2015 Glenfiddich Future Pioneer after taking out the national finals of the Glenfiddich Future Pioneers Cocktail Competition.

Now in its third year, the annual competition is designed to identify Australia’s up and coming bartenders and more specifically, those who haven’t previously been placed in a national competition.

The five finalists secured their place in the national competition after successfully creating a Glenfiddich-based cocktail inspired by a family member in the state competition. The cocktails had to be easy to prepare using only the Glenfiddich 12 Year Old whisky and no more than four commonly found ingredients. The drinks were prepared for a panel of mentors which included some of Australia’s most respected bartending talent.

From there, each of the mentors selected their favourite cocktail and then worked with the respective finalist to create “an evolution of their drink” by using the Glennfiddich 14 or 15 Year Old. The creations were then judged by their peers with the winning team in each state securing a place in the national final.

The national final took place at Peat’s Bite on the Hawkesbury River, NSW where five finalists competed for the prize. Each team was challenged with creating cocktails for the judging panel comprised of their fellow competitors. Each competitor was then flown back to Sydney where the winners were announced at a private dinner at Quay restaurant.

By winning the competition, Luke Sanderson together with his mentor, Orlando Marzo, will travel to the Glenfiddich distillery in Scotland. Hugh Taylor and Martin Lange who finished in second place, will join the Glenfiddich team in Kakadu in early 2016.

The state finalists included:

  • Luke Sanderson and his mentor Orland Marzo from Victoria
  • Hugh Taylor and his mentor Martin Lange, both from the Cobbler in Queensland
  • Christiane Poulos from Raven’s Eye and her mentor Simon McGoran from Henrietta’s in NSW
  • Scotty Kneipp from The Aviary and his mentor Tom Kearney from the Dominion League in WA
  • Darren Leaney from Maybe Mae and his mentor Marcus Motterdam from Haines and Co. in SA.


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