Belfast Telegraph

Hunt to find whiskey blend creator

A worldwide search to find an apprentice to help create a new blend of Bushmills whiskey will end at the famous Northern Ireland distillery this week.

Candidates from the US, South Africa, Europe and both sides of the Irish border are due to gather on Wednesday for the final stages of the selection process which first began at the New York Stock Exchange on St Patrick's Day last March.

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

During a special two-day "Bushcamp" they will undergo a test of skills, including taste and smell, set by Colum Egan, the master distiller at the distillery which is close to the Giants Causeway on the North Antrim coast.

Former Ireland and British Lion rugby star Keith Wood is among the judges.

The winner, to be announced on Thursday, will spend a month working with Mr Egan.

He said: "The strong international interest in Bushmills is further reflected in the fact that since creating our first official Bushmills Global Facebook page earlier this year, it has attracted more than 30,000 fans, making it the world's second biggest Irish whiskey Facebook site."

Apart from the Make It At Bushmills work experience, the winner's prize also includes £5,000 as well as access to a luxury penthouse for a month during their stay in Northern Ireland.

Whiskey writer Joel Harrison and singer-songwriter Foy Vance will be the other judges. Comedian Dan Gordon plays host.

Mr Egan added: "We've been overwhelmed by the interest Make It At Bushmills has generated and it's been fantastic to see the competition talked about in blogs, magazines, newspapers and TV shows all around the world."

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