BUSHMILLS VILLAGE, IRELAND: A 28-year old lifeguard from Svishtov Bulgaria has won a global Bushmills Irish Whiskey® competition with a prize described as ‘the whiskey lover’s ultimate dream’.

Overall winner Ivan Ivanov

Ivan Ivanov was chosen from finalists from nine countries as the winner of the Make it at Bushmills challenge at a gala dinner this evening (Thursday) in the village of Bushmills on Ireland’s north coast. The historic area has a history of whiskey production stretching back more than 400 years.

He will now spend 30 days working alongside Bushmills’ Master Distiller Colum Egan with the aim of becoming the first ever person outside the distillery to create their own blend of one of the world’s best-loved Irish whiskeys. Their prize also includes a month’s luxury penthouse accommodation in Ireland and £5,000 spending money.

Make it at Bushmills has attracted interest from around the globe since its launch in the New York Stock Exchange on St Patrick’s day on March 17. The nine finalists from Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Northern Ireland, South Africa, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Bulgaria were chosen by public vote to represent their countries in this week’s two-day ‘Bushcamp’ finale, set by Bushmills’ Master Distiller, Colum Egan.

The contestants included a head sommelier from a French three-star Michelin restaurant, a former Wall Street broker as well as a drumming world record holder from Lisburn, Allister Brown, aged 33 years old.

Following a series of mental, physical and skills-based challenges, the performance of the individual contenders was assessed by a judging panel that included Irish rugby legend, Keith Wood, Foy Vance, one of Ireland’s most respected singer-songwriters and Joel Harrison, a regular contributor to a number of leading whiskey publications.

Ivan said: “Winning the public vote to represent Bulgaria in the final phase of the competition was a real honour. But to be the overall winner is just incredible – I still can’t believe I’ll spend a month making whiskey with the world’s best. It’s the whiskey lover’s ultimate dream.”

Colum Egan said: “Throughout the competition, Ivan has shown that he has the passion and personality to Make it at Bushmills. This is a fantastic opportunity for him to learn how great whiskey is made and I know he’ll grasp this opportunity with both hands.”

Follow Ivan’s progress at the Old Bushmills Distillery on facebook.com/bushmills1608.

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