Top Talent Shines in Toronto

By / Wine + Drinks / July 6th, 2012 / 1

Buffalo Trace Distillery’s Master Distiller, Harlen Wheatley, was one of the judges for the Buffalo Trace Bartender Competition, which took place during his visit to Toronto from June 19-22 2012. A dozen top local bartenders gathered to participate in the competition that took place at the Toronto Institute of Bartending & Spirithouse. Robin Goodfellow of URSA was the Grand Prize Winner; Robin Wynne from Fynn’s of Temple Bar took second place; and Reposado’s Megan Jones was awarded third place at the event.

Bartenders were assigned their order in the event using a random draw. In the first round of the competition, each contestant made two drinks, one featuring Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Dr. McGillicuddy Peach Schnapps and a second with only Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Based on the taste and creativity of these first two cocktails, the judges selected the top three entrants to proceed to round two. In the second round, contestants again made two cocktails: one was a Buffalo Trace Manhattan, and the other was an original cocktail using Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Buffalo Trace’s Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley, who has been with the company for 16 years and plays a crucial role in the brand’s reputation for excellence, brought his comprehensive experience to the panel of three judges at the event.


The Manhattan was chosen as one of the event cocktails specifically because it is one of Mr. Wheatley’s favourite cocktails, when made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Kevin Brauch, host of The Thirsty Traveler on the Fine Living Network, and Dave Mitton, who is the President of the Bartenders Association of Canada Ontario Chapter, also acted as judges at the competition.

Grand Prize Winner Robin Goodfellow will receive a three-day trip for two to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in July 2013. Second place winner Robin Wynne receives $500; and Megan Jones receives $250 for third place.

Buffalo Trace Distillery is a family-owned company based in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky. The Distillery’s distilling tradition dates back to 1787. It is a fully operational distillery producing bourbon, rye and vodka on site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here are the two cocktails that gave Robin the win.


2 ounces Buffalo Trace
1 ounce homemade vermouth
4 dashes cherry vanilla bitters
2 homemade rye-vanilla cherries

Combine first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour into a glass and garnish with cherries.

When in Rome

1.5 ounces Buffalo Trace
1 ounce XO Cognac
2 dashes Pechauds
Ice tempered with .25 ounce ricard
lemon zest, straight up in a rocks glass

Combine first three ingredients in a shaker with ricard-tempered ice. Pour into a glass and garnish with lemon zest.

Photo Credit: Buffalo Trace Distillery


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