Uncle Jack mixed things up a bit for this year’s birthday comp, asking for drinks that can be shared by four people instead of a one-off cocktail.
Given Jack’s propensity to be drunk at gigs, music festivals and parties (as well as at your bar) this makes perfect sense and made for an interesting challenge as competitors turned their minds to punch-style recipes.
The kicker for this competition is that the final is held on BBQ Hill, which sits directly above the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg.
As a result, all seven regional finalists have won before competing, if that makes any sense, as simply qualifying sends them to Tennessee for several days – for the final itself and the Jack Daniel’s birthday gig (a full report of this trip will follow shortly).
The final took place on a beautiful, sunny afternoon with two Jack Daniel’s heavyweights – Master Distiller, Jeff Arnett, and ladies’ favourite, Master Taster Jeff Norman – joining trade journos on the judging panel.
Each competitor was given five minutes to crack out their drink and chat, which threw up a mutilated guitar, a smoking strainer, blow-torched apricots and not a few cocktail umbrellas as the afternoon wore on.
In the end though, as ever, there could be only one winner and as the judges returned from their deliberations, it was Dean MacGregor from Reading who took the trophy (and continued Sahara Bar’s epic recent run of competition form), handed to him by the two Jeffs and Nidal Ramini from Bacardi Brown Forman Brands.
Congratulations to Dean for winning, the other competitors for qualifying, and indeed to Jack Daniel’s for putting on such a great competition and showing us all such a good time. Next year, make sure you enter this comp as the trip to Tennessee really is a bucket list experience.