Highballer of the Year competition

Words by Sammy Hemmings

Photography by Spirited Union

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Bartenders from across the UK, the Netherlands, the Nordics, Germany, Ireland and Poland are challenged to create a highball recipe followed by a unique botanical rum concept and recipe for their chance to become the Highballer of the Year and have their concept and recipe brought to market.

Spirited Union, an Amsterdam-based botanical rum distillery, will soon launch its Highballer of the Year cocktail competition which comprises three rounds that test competitors' skills as bartenders, as botanists and as distillers.

Originally launched during March 2020, this competition has sadly been postponed due to the impact of COVID-19. Please check back soon to find out when the competition will be open for entries.

Round one: The Bartender

The first round challenges bartenders to create a unique highball recipe using either Spirited Union Spice & Sea Salt botanical rum or Spirited Union Lemon & Leaf botanical rum, and a maximum of five ingredients in total.

Entrants must post an image of their drink alongside the bottle of Spirited Union rum on social media tagging @spirited_union_distillery / /SpiritedUnionDistillery and include hashtags #InUnionThereIsStrength, #Highballer and #Competition.

The Spirited Union judging panel will consider all entries, scoring recipes on the following criteria: originality, simplicity and taste. The selected shortlist of semi-finalists will be announced on social media.

Round two: The Botanist

During round two, semi-finalists will be tasked with selecting a rum from a line-up of five single origin rums which best suits their botanical rum concept.

Spirited Union's distillery runs on solar energy, uses plant-based bottle seals and packaging made from recycled materials, and the competitors will also be challenged to develop an idea to support Spirit Union in reducing their carbon footprint.

This round will take place online once again and the judges will narrow down the shortlist to ten finalists who will go on and compete in the grand final.

Round three: The Distiller

The finalists will be invited to take part in the third and final round which culminates in Amsterdam.

Finalists will spend their first day exploring local spice shops and markets to source botanicals. Following a session with the Master Distiller where they'll learn the processes to create their botanical rum concept, the finalists will re-distill their botanicals with their chosen rums and present their creations to the judges on day two.

Judges will also consider the finalists' sustainability concepts and highball serves before announcing the Highballer of the Year 2020.

The prize

The Highballer of the Year champion will be invited back to Amsterdam for the distilling and bottling process of their limited-edition product before its launch in Europe.

The champion will also earn the additional title of Botanical Ambassador 2020 for Spirited Union and will have the opportunity to take part in new launches in their country, consult on new concepts and future distillery plans.

Could you be the next Highballer of the Year?

Before you enter, take a look at the Highballer of the Year terms and conditions for more information.

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