Matt Linklater from the Black Pearl has won the third annual Woodford Reserve 2017 Australia Cocktail Competition with his ‘Natural Order’ cocktail.
Held last night (Monday 13 November) at Marble Bar in Sydney, Linklater beat more than 155 entrants to be crowned as winner.
The competition invited bartenders across the country to produce two Woodford Reserve cocktail recipes and serve them in their bars throughout September.
Each contestant was tasked with creating their ideal version of the classic Old Fashioned using Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select, and an original cocktail that showcases the flavour profile of Woodford Reserve Rye.
State heats and finals resulted in five of the country’s best battling it out in Sydney for the national finals.
The competition saw creative bourbon whiskey cocktails with ingredients including smoked pineapple syrup, black walnut bitters, creamed corn syrup, cedar wood smoke and salted maple syrup, but it was Linklater’s Natural Order with Woodford Reserve Rye, pomegranate vinegar, grenadine, white ale umeshu, soap bark extract and limonata that won the judges over.
“I’d like to thank my fellow competitors,” says Linklater. “Not only does this competition push me to be better, but it’s incredibly humbling to have the privilege of spending the last 24 hours with such talented people.
“I never really set out to win, I just tried to be the best version of myself on the day. To be rewarded with this incredible opportunity – there are no words.
“Woodford Reserve has consistently been present throughout my bartending career. It’s been great to add my personal touch to the brand through these drinks. Next year, Woodford Reserve can cement its touch on me at the finals in New York. Giddy up!”
In second place was Simon Hopkins from Surly’s American BBQ in Sydney, who beat Vini Wang of Hains & Co in Adelaide in third. The other national finalists were Joshua O’Brien from The Bowery in Brisbane and James Connolly from Long Chim, Perth.
As winner, Linklater will embark on an all-expenses paid trip to New York in 2018 to attend the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience U.S Final – a total prize valued at AUD$7,000.