Edinburgh bartender named ‘Race To Skye’ Champion in UK bartending competition

An Edinburgh based bartender has beaten competitors from around the UK to be crowned the first ever female winner of the UK-wide Race to Skye bartender competition.

Published 16th Aug 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Stefanie Anderson, who works for Bon Vivant in the capital, faced off against finalists from Leeds, London, Glasgow and Manchester in the competition which is run by Talisker single malt whisky.

Stefanie said: “I’m delighted to have won the Race to Skye. I admire the brand in so many ways so I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of the experience and on top of it, won!

"The competition was tough and everybody presented amazing serves and real originality behind their stories. This is just an amazing way to round off the trip and I’m thrilled to return and carry the Talisker torch.”

Picture: Diageo

Bartenders from across the country were tasked with creating a cocktail that embodied Talisker’s ‘Made by the Sea’ campaign.

The top ten competitors from each region were selected to compete in a series of highly competitive semi-finals with the final seven then chosen to compete in the finals from the 13th – 15th August on Skye.

 Stefanie pitted her skills against Elysa McGuire from Epicurus: Death & Taxes, Leeds; Alex Francis from Devil’s Darling, London; Mike Pendergast from the East London Liquor Company, London; Adam Day from Peggy’s, Manchester; Liam Grogan from Kelvingrove Café, Glasgow; and Miran Chauhan from Buck & Birch, Edinburgh.

Day one commenced with ‘Mystery Challenge’ designed to test the skills of each competitor’s discerning nose, palate and core distillery knowledge. Competitors were presented with six unmarked whisky samples and tasked to nose, taste and identify each from a list of 11 distilleries - which included a range of Diageo favourites including Glenkinchie, Lagavulin and Oban - within the 25-minute timeframe.

Challenge two, the ‘Cocktail Food Pairing’ was situated at the iconic Gleneagles Hotel and revolved around a six-course dinner showcasing some of the finest seasonal produce Scotland has to offer.

Six finalists were designated a course and challenged to create a cocktail which perfectly complemented the dish, with the seventh tasked to fashion an aperitif. All finalists were asked to use Talisker 10, Talisker Skye, Talisker Storm or Talisker Port Ruighe as a base. The competitors were evaluated on the components of the serve and their presentation skills.

On day two, bartenders embarked on the journey to Skye where the third challenge took place, the ultimate whisky knowledge challenge, ‘Mastermind’ hosted by GB Whisky Brand Ambassador, Colin Dunn. To conclude the series of challenges, each bartender was required to present their Talisker Made by the Sea Signature Serve to the panel of judges at the Talisker Distillery Visitor Centre with seven minutes to present the crafted cocktail.

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Like inaugural winner Andrew Lennie, Stefanie is awarded the title of honorary Talisker Ambassador* to support the Scotch whisky brand in telling its story and communicating the on-going Made by the Sea campaign. She will also enjoy an enhanced PR campaign to help raise her profile in the drinks industry.

Scottish malts ambassador at Diageo Reserve, Stevie Martin added: “Single malt whisky is fast becoming a main stay for the finest cocktail bartenders in the country.

"The Race to Skye again showed the possibilities and versatility of the Talisker brand when in the hands of the finest talent around. We had exceptional drinks and memorable stories from all seven finalists as well as an incredible few days travelling the Scottish wilderness.

“Our winner, Stefanie Anderson from the Bon Vivant in Edinburgh, performed incredibly well across all four challenges and we are looking forward to working with her on Talisker single malt whisky moving forward.”


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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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