Nc’nean Creations Competition Returns With More Heats in 2023

Nc’nean Creations Entry Deadline: Midnight, April 30th 2023

Nc’nean Creations, which made its debut last year, is one of our favourite cocktail competitions. We love it because the distillery make great liquids as sustainably as is possible, the prize is unique and extremely bartender-friendly, and because the final is held in a beautiful part of the world. So beautiful, in fact, it inspired what is probably the most lyrical paragraph Simon Webster ever waxed for BarLifeUK in his write-up last year:

At a break between rounds, I found myself alone outside the distillery eating home made nettle soup and bread, whilst the finalists prepped their ingredients for round two. As I ate, I looked out at the view from the distillery, a deer was also enjoying her lunch in a field just a couple of hundred yards away, past her ancient trees framed the calm sea beyond on which fishing boats bobbed, on the other side of the narrow sea hills rose into the low hanging clouds which obscured their peaks. It was spectacular painting come to life.

Simon was effusive in his praise for the Nc’nean final last year, so I was very pleased to hear that the competition is back in 2023, with more regional heats to make it easier for bartenders to enter, and a new theme.

Utility and Efficiency

Nc’nean operate a verified net-zero carbon emission distillery, which is B Corp Certified, 100% organic, and uses 100% renewable energy. Their whisky is bottled in 100% recycled glass too. Part of Nc’nean’s obvious and concerted effort to be as sustainable as possible involves using resources that are readily and locally available to the distillery – rainwater is used for cooling the spirit, spent barley and pot ale are used by the local farm, and foraged botanicals are used in the production of their botanical spirit.

The 2023 Nc’nean Creations competition challenges you to submit a cocktail which embraces this theme of Utility and Efficiency by using one or more of the following things:

  • Local produce or ingredients
  • Waste or other products discarded by your venue
  • Seasonal or foraged ingredients
  • Ingredients and equipment your bar already uses.

Or, as Nc’nean ambassador Matthew Hastings describes it: “Put simply, take advantage of what’s around you, maximise what you already have.”

Your Nc’nean Creations entry can have at its heart either Nc’nean Organic Single Malt Whisky, or Nc’nean Botanical Spirit, and should have a maximum of 5 ingredients in total, excluding garnish.

Once the entry deadline has passed, all of the submissions will be assessed based on serve simplicity, interpretation of the brief, and sustainability, and successful competitors will be invited to take part in one of six regional heats taking place throughout the UK in May and June 2023.

The regional heat winners will then go through to the grand final, held over three days of competition, learning, food, drink, and good times at the Nc’nean distillery in Morven, which is nestled very pleasingly in the Scottish Highlands.

The Nc’nean Creations Prize

Nc’nean Creations 2022 winner, Elena Wright.

I said at the start of this article that the Nc’nean Creations prize is very bartender-friendly, and here’s why: the winner of the comp work with Nc’nean to select their next AON single cask release, which is a Nc’nean web store and distillery exclusive bottling. The winner’s name will be on the release, and they will receive 1 case (6 bottles) of the release and receive 10% of the profits from its sale.

To give that some context, the special AON release that was selected in collaboration with last year’s Nc’nean Creations winner, Elena Wright of The Spirit of Manchester, sold out in eight minutes, generating a not-inconsequential cash prize in the process.

This means the Nc’nean Creations ticks all the ‘perfect bartender prize’ boxes – travel to a beautiful distillery, ownership of rare and valuable whisky, and cash money. It’s a fantastic prize package that comes with the opportunity to play with liquids produced by a distillery that is actively embracing sustainable practices and works in harmony with the land around it. Get stuck in, and I look forward to seeing you at the final…

Nc’nean Creations 2022 Final write-up

Nc’nean Distillery Website

Nc’nean Creations Judging Sheet