The fluidity of Glenfiddich

Font Size

FLUIDITY, as a term, expresses the ability to change. Fluids take the shape of their containers; and can be seen in various forms, either in a liquid state, or as a solid or gas. Glenfiddich, as a single-malt whisky (and thus a fluid), is expected to do the same.

During the preliminary round of Glenfiddich’s World’s Most Experimental Bartender 2019 in the Philippines, Glenfiddich was made into solids (as jelly or as pastry), or enjoyed in its liquid form. The preliminaries were held earlier this week in Makati.

The contest was a battle between nine pairs, with one bartender and one person from a creative industry (there was a photographer, a grooming expert, a tea master, and a tattoo artist, and then various chefs). Three pairs were selected to go on to the finals, and the sole winner from the finals will be flown to Scotland for the championship. The three pairs that stood out at the preliminaries were Faye Fernando, a bartender from Cove Manila, and James Llamera, Research and Development, EDSA Beverage Design Group; John Lorenzo Luna, bartender from Run Rabbit Run and Don Carpio, a freelance baker and pastry chef; and finally, Kathrin May Osmillo, Head Bartender at Oto, and Fonso Sotero, owner and pastry chef at Lampara.

Tradition doesn’t normally mix well with experimentation; tradition being a series of rituals perfected and performed again and again over time. But Brett Bayly, Regional Brand Ambassador for Glenfiddich in Southeast Asia, then pointed to the brand’s history of pushing boundaries. “The concept came around based solely in the fact that we’ve broken boundaries so many times,” he said. In the 1960s, they were one of the first distillers (if not the first) to create the single malt category as a premium brand, and today Glenfiddich is the world’s bestselling single malt, making the gamble pay off. Mr. Bayly also spoke about the brand’s various experiments in recent times such as finishing off whiskies in IPA casks, or else sherry casks, or ice wine casks.

Speaking about bartending as its own creative industry, Mr. Bayly said, “You’re going to always have to try and come up with new drinks, new things to keep the customers entertained.”

On a deeper note, he compares mixing a drink to painting. “It comes down to balance. It’s kind of like that… it’s kind of like someone doing a painting — at what point do you say enough is enough?”

Every drink, no matter how similar, will come with a bartender’s unique signature: “As long as there’s similarity and personal expression in that… that’s where I see the artistic side of bars.” — Joseph L. Garcia