Belfast Telegraph

Bulgarian wins whiskey challenge

A lifeguard from Bulgaria has won a global Bushmills challenge to help create a new blend of the whiskey.

Ivan Ivanov, 28, was the winner of a contest involving finalists from nine countries who took part in tests from drinks mixing and tasting to rock climbing near the distillery on Northern Ireland's picturesque North Coast.

He said: "It means the world to me. I am on a crossroads in my life, I think it is a very good direction I am going now."

The marketing graduate from Svishtov travelled around the world as a lifeguard and bartender.

He said he was looking forward to spending a month in Northern Ireland working alongside Bushmills master distiller Colum Egan on a new blend.

The prize includes a month's luxury penthouse accommodation and £5,000 spending money.

The finalists were chosen by a public vote to represent their countries in the two-day event in Bushmills, close to the Giant's Causeway.

Tens of thousands of people from around the globe voted on Facebook to chose the nine finalists, who included Allister Brown, 33, an engineer from Lisburn, Co Antrim, and Kevin O'Sullivan, 33, an unemployed barman from Waterford.

Former Ireland and British and Irish Lions rugby star Keith Wood was among the judges.

Whiskey writer Joel Harrison and singer-songwriter Foy Vance were the others. Comedian Dan Gordon played host.

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