A scotch whisky distiller, when asked recently if he made any blends, was gloriously sniffy and dismissive of blended whisky. It would have been interesting to see and hear what he would have made of the Johnnie Walker Directors Blends, which I got to taste last Thursday (November 28) in London.
Philips won over judges with his signature serve: Hot Toddy Australia made with Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve blended scotch whisky, honey, cinnamon quill, ginger "and innovative technique".
Following in the footsteps of mixology giants Manabu Ohtake, Erik Lorincz and Aristotelis Papadopoulos, he is said to have “displayed exceptional style and technique, truly showing the artisanship of his craft and a talent beyond his years”.
Over the past year, contenders from bars around the world have competed in local and regional heats, each aspiring to attain a place at the Diageo Reserve World Class global final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 50 from over 15,000 hopefuls were selected to showcase their creations in front of a judging panel made up of - Salvatore Calabrese, Dale de Groff, Peter Dorelli, Gary Regan, Daniel Estremadoyro, Hidetsugu Ueno, Arturo Savage, Steve Olson and Aristotelis Papadopoulos.
Philips said: "Throughout my career, I have nurtured a strong passion for cocktails and creating a superior experience for the customer. I have been inspired this week by the high standards and limitless talent at Diageo Reserve World Class and look forward to the year ahead, travelling the world, meeting my peers and continuing to create experiences through my creations that immerse customers in another world."