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Sipsmith crowns its first Cygnus champion

Sam Wilkes-Green of Liverpool bar Manolo has been named the winner of Sipsmith’s inaugural UK cocktail competition, Cygnus.

First Cygnus competition winner Sam Wilkes-Green
Sam Wilkes-Green’s winning serve, Dear Low Dykes, will inspire the creation of a new Sipsmith gin

As part of the gin brand’s advocacy programme, Beam Suntory-owned Sipsmith created its biggest cocktail competition to date earlier this year.

Open to bartenders in the UK, entrants were tasked with creating a cocktail that represented the concept and style that they would want to adapt into their own gin.

Wilkes-Green’s winning serve, Dear Low Dykes, combined Sipsmith VJOP and Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle Gin with homemade apple and bay leaf cordial, clover honey, peppercorn distillate, and Crémant de Loire sparkling wine.

Wilkes-Green, formerly of Manchester’s Arcane bar, took inspiration for his serve from Sipsmith master distiller Jared Brown’s historical investigations, and drew upon the distilling traditions of the UK. He also based the drink on his childhood experiences at Low Dykes Barn.

The judging panel included: Erik Lorincz, founder of Kwãnt bar in London; Joe Hoernig, innovations manager and distiller at Sipsmith; and Nicola Carruthers, deputy editor of The Spirits Business.

For winning the competition, Wilkes-Green will collaborate with Brown and Hoernig on the creation of a gin based on his cocktail recipe, replicating its flavours and ingredients.

The limited edition gin is scheduled for release in early 2024, when 250 bottles will be available to buy from Sipsmith’s website.

Rich Hamer, head of prestige and advocacy at Sipsmith, said: “We are thrilled to announce Sam as the winner of the Cygnus Cocktail Competition 2023 and are excited to collaborate with him on crafting a bespoke gin that encapsulates the essence of his competition-winning cocktail.”

“Sipsmith’s dedication to excellence, creativity, and collaboration shines through in the competition, not only celebrating the talents of bartenders around the UK but also highlighting the ongoing commitment of Sipsmith to push boundaries and redefine the craft of gin making.”

The competition’s other finalists were: Sam Page of Sexy Fish in London; Liam Jones of Cardiff’s Pennyroyal; Callie Thirsk of Fox & Chance in Birmingham; Maddy Blackwell of Flight Club in Cardiff; and Adam Lynch of The Coburg Bar at the Connaught, London.

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