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First finalists for Diageo Reserve World Class UK 2016 revealed

Published:  11 December, 2015

Diageo Reserve has announced the first five UK finalists for its World Class UK 2016 competition, which aims to find the best bartender in the UK.

The five finalists are Liam Broom of Callooh Callay; Tim Laferla from City Social; Sean Fennelly at Milk & Honey; Kyle Wilkinson from Blind Pig; and Scott Gavin of the Rosewood Hotel.

They competed against 45 other bartenders in the competition's semi-finals, which were held last night at 68 and Boston in London's Soho.

Entrants were tested on their skills, adaptability and spirit knowledge, and were challenged to create a cocktail using one of the Diageo Reserve brands: Talisker, Singleton, Cardhu, Ron Zacapa, Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Haig Club, Bulleit Bourbon or Bulleit Rye.

The judging panel included Dan Dove, head of World Class UK; Diageo Reserve brand ambassadors Andrea Montague and Colin Dunn; Max La Rocca, the World Class ambassador for Western Europe, Max La Rocca; and Ali Reynolds, the UK winner of World Class 2015.

Dove said: "The calibre of bartenders competing this year is exceptionally high. Each year seems to be progressive, but the broad thinking and unusual flavour pairings we've witnessed this year have taken the competition to a new level.

"All five finalists should be incredibly proud to have made it this far in the competition, and we very much look forward to seeing them again."

Reynolds said: "I'm very honoured to be a judge in this year's World Class competition. After being part of the process last year I feel I'm in the perfect position to offer hands-on experience and knowledge to bartenders entering this year, especially as the competition brought out the best of my skillset and enabled me to reach a whole new level."

There will be a further semi-final early next year, which will reveal another five contenders, before the UK final in May.

The winning bartender with then represent the UK at the global final, to be held in Miami in September 2016.

The UK winner will also have the opportunity to travel worldwide to identify new talent, and to become a mentor or judge in the following year's competition.

The owner of the bar in which the UK winner works will receive a £10,000 marketing fund to create their own World Class serve.