Japanese Shochu Maker, iichiko, Hosts Successful Bartender Competition in Honolulu

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iichiko BLŪ Hosts 2018 Bartender Competition In Honolulu, HI

iichiko BLŪ Bartender Competition winners

iichiko BLŪ Bartender Competition winners

Renowned Shochu maker iichiko hosted eight of Hawaii’s top bartenders for the 2018 iichiko BLŪ Bartender Competition on Jan. 31, at the popular Sky Waikiki. Andrew Woodley, of The Myna Bird Tiki Bar, took first place with his original creation, “Gift of the Islands,” showcasing the award-winning spirit.

iichiko hand-selected a panel of internationally and locally known experts to judge this year’s competition including the CEO of iichiko USA, Tomohisa Kadoyanagi, and award-winning bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout, voted Best Bartender in San Francisco and advisor for Liquor.com. Other experts in attendance included longtime “Barfly” columnist and Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Jason Genegabus; lead bartender at Yauatcha Skipper Bonano; and Jen Marshall, the New York Senior Portfolio Associate at Momentum Worldwide for William Grant & Sons.

iichiko BLŪ is a premium shochu spirit crafted and distilled from barley to ultimate create a rich yet delicate flavor. A favorite of local mixologists and foodies, iichiko BLŪ is exclusive to Hawaii, where restaurants and clubs alike incorporate the spirit into a diverse range of cocktails.

Andrew Woodley truly embraced the local flavors of Hawaii with his first prize cocktail, whose recipe includes pineapple gum, lemon juice, green chartreuse, shiso and mint leaves and iichiko BLŪ. iichiko awarded Woodley an all-expense-paid trip to visit the iichiko distillery in Oita Prefecture, Japan and a cash prize of $1,500. Second place winner William Hee of Stripsteak Waikiki, and third place recipient Tyler Johnson of SKY Waikiki, won cash prizes of $1,000 and $750, respectively.

“I was fortunate to win a truly amazing competition hosted by iichiko BLŪ. I was competing against friends who demonstrated, with their technical skills, showmanship and knowledge, why Hawaii is such a destination when it comes to craft cocktails, and why I’m so grateful and proud to be a part of this community,” shared Woodley. “I look forward to seeing the distillery, and its beautiful surroundings.”

“iichiko BLŪ is such a versatile spirit that lends itself to many flavors and recipes, and we were delighted to see how each bartender was able to utilize the shochu in new and exciting ways,” said Tetsuro Miyazaki, iichiko USA North America Development Manager.

iichiko BLŪ was named the Chairman’s Trophy Award winner in the shochu category at the 2017 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, one of the world's leading spirits competitions. It also garnered the Tried & True Award and scored 96 points, the highest of all the shochus, at the competition. iichiko BLŪ was also honored with the Best of Shochu award, scoring 95 points at the 2017 Los Angeles International Spirits Competition.

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Samantha Aurilia
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