Hepple Ultimate Martini Scotland Heat Results

To mark the official start of comp season we made our way up to Edinburgh for the first heat of the Hepple Gin Ultimate Martini competition.

Sometimes you get the feeling the world is against you, I awoke in my hotel room bright eyed (for once) and ready for action only to find an email informing me that Hepple fou

Your winner

nder and my fellow judge for the week, Nick Strangeway, was ill and unable to make it over.

Undeterred I made my way over to our home for the afternoon, the beautiful Hawksmoor, to set everything up. No sooner were the judging sheets out of my bag than the fire alarm in the building’s hotel went off and we were on the streets awaiting the fire service to give us the all clear.

At this point some people would be thinking the world was against them but I knew two things that kept such thoughts away. First up Nick’s spot on the judging panel would be taken by Hepple Distiller Chris Garden who we’d met on our trip to the distillery a couple of months ago, Chris is not only a gin maker extraordinaire but also a thoroughly lovely guy. Secondly the delay in set up time just meant more time to have Hepple Gin & Tonics whilst we waited for the serves to get down to temp.

Bottles Of Joy

For anyone not familiar with the competition, the freezer time was due to the fact this is a bottle serve comp. The competitors were asked to create a Hepple Martini that could be bottled and pre-diluted ready to pour and drink.

Not only is this format great news for anyone that suffers badly from the dreaded competition shakes it also means the bartenders can focus, unhampered by pesky jiggers, on the presentation of the drink, chat away to their hearts content (as long as it is for less than 5 minutes!).

Four competitors made the most of the opportunity kicking off w

Warm up drinks

ith Nikitas Skoumpros from Fly South in Glasgow. It may have been his first competition, but Nikitas didn’t let that phase him as he presented his Aphrodite’s Martini. A combination of Hepple Gin, Lillet Blanc, Szechuan pepper and lemongrass was brought to life by the garnish of three drops of extra virgin olive oil infused with cherry tomato and oregano.

Findlay Cormack from Devil’s Advocate gave us a drink that had been three and a half years in the making. Back in the day he had been chatting to a bartender from Seattle on Reddit about a cocktail mixing cachaça with gin, over the years this concept has produced several drinks for Findlay and the culmination of this was his serve, Force Push. The Hepple was combined with Germana Caetanos Cachaça, Noilly Pratt and jasmine tea infused crème de peche but it was the lemon peel that had been added to the shaker whilst the drink was thrown that cleverly brought everything together.

1820’s Mark McCarthey celebrated Hepple’s triple distillation technique by mirroring them in his ingredient preparation, even managing to do his own version of vacuum distillation. Mark was the only competitor to use something other than water to dilute his drink opting for green tea and sencha distillate instead. The standout about his Cranachan Martini was the mouthfeel the kefir washed rose vermouth gave the drink.

Travelling up from Newcastle’s Mother Mercy was Luke Riley who was back for his second year at the Hepple comp.

Mark’s Cranachan Martini

He embraced the joy of the not having to show the nerves exclaiming ‘You can just be nervous internally’. His Big Wave Martini combined Hepple, Toki, honeydew melon and mandarin bitters which were infused together by being stuck in the microwave for 2 minutes (as you do).

The resulting drink was beautifully balanced and had us going back for more, it was this combined by his fantastic chat that saw Luke taking out the win and banking himself a trip to the Hepple Distillery for the final in a couple of month’s time.

A trip around some of Edinburgh’s finest bars catching up with old friends ensued and the Hepple Ultimate Martini grand tour was off to a cracking start. Next up is Manchester where no doubt we will be treated to more great chat and drinks.

A big thanks to all the competitors and the team at Hawksmoor for looking after us so well.

Luke Riley’s Winning Drink

Big wave martini (To make around 500ml)

208ml Hepple Gin
42ml Tokaij Aszu 5 puttonyos
200g of diced honeydew melon – skin on

Add to a microwaveable container with an airtight lid and blast on high for 2 minutes.
Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes until cooled
Strain through a coffee filter into a clean, sterile container.

208ml Hepple Gin
42ml Tokaij Aszu 5 puttinyos
10 dashes bobs orange & mandarin bitters
40ml filtered water

Bottle, chill for 30mins in freezer before serving (100ml) and garnish with a pink grapefruit peel.