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South African cocktail wizard wins Johnnie Walker Global Bartender Challenge - Thabiso Molonyama's ‘Nimbus Moon’ cocktail announced as winner of the Africa region!

10 May 2023

  • Thabiso Molonyama, and his Nimbus Moon cocktail

A South African cocktail mixologist will celebrate his 33rd birthday in Scotland later this month, after winning an exclusive three-night Black Label experience with Johnnie Walker.

Pretoria’s Thabiso Molonyama, founder of The Everyday Bar, joined bartenders from across the world in getting creative and sharing an Instagram post of their own signature Johnnie Walker Black Label cocktail, explaining why the spirit works perfectly in the serve.

With over 200 entries across 47 countries, Molonyama’s serve, Nimbus Moon, was selected as the African winner, with three other winners from Asia and Australasia, South and Central America and Europe. His winning serve is a balanced blend of Johnnie Walker Black Label, Aperol, Orange Bitters, Lemon Yuzu and Cranberry juice.  The winning serve can be viewed here.

His trip takes place from 17-20 May 2023, and will include a behind-the-scenes distillery tour; a visit to the Diageo Archives; a deconstructed tasting of Johnnie Walker Black Label with Dr Emma Walker, Johnnie Walker’s first female Master Blender; and an array of experiences at the brand home, Johnnie Walker Princes Street, including their most premium offering, the Whisky Makers’ Cellar tour, where exceptional whiskies can be tasted from the cask.

“I can’t believe I won – I'm still waiting for someone to tell me it’s a prank!  As for the cocktail, I wanted the woodiness and fruitiness of the Johnnie Walker Black Label to shine through. My aim was to showcase the versatility of Johnnie Walker Black Label; keeping it simple and yet complex in experience,” Molonyama said.

With international experience working and consulting in Ibiza, the United States and Dubai, Molonyama first stumbled onto the cocktail scene 13 years ago, when he asked for a student job in a Rosebank cocktail bar. “The bartenders were flaring and throwing bottles while making drinks. I asked for a job and was hired.” Engaging with global brand ambassadors remains one of his favourite ways to learn new tricks. “I’ve always found experience is a better teacher than theory.” The competition was a first for Molonyama, who says he is usually on the consulting or teaching side of the bar.

“I am excited to see where the brand comes from and meet the people around who influence the products. I am hoping to get South Africa more involved with the rest of the world.”

The winners were selected by judging panel Tim Philips-Johansson, Johnnie Walker Global Brand Ambassador; Adrián Michalčík, World Class Global Bartender of the Year 2022; and Nick Tesar, winner of the World Class Johnnie Walker challenge.

Entries were shortlisted and recreated by judges during a tasting session in Oslo to determine which entry used Johnnie Walker Black label in the most exciting yet balanced way.

Johnnie Walker Global Brand Ambassador Tim Phillips-Johansson said: “The judging panel loved the perfect expression of simplicity ‘Nimbus Moon’ offered, while at the same time playing into contemporary drink styling. Thabiso’s cocktail was a perfect combination of tannin, citrus, sweetness and bold Johnnie Walker Black Label – it was a joy to recreate during the judging process and it tasted delicious, really allowing Johnnie Walker Black Label’s depth of flavour to come the fore.”

Johnnie Walker Black Label was first created over 100 years ago by the Walker family who took bold steps to make a significantly better Scotch Whisky - expertly blended to create the rich, iconic flavour that is still made today.  Johnnie Walker Black Label takes the very best whiskies from Scotland, each expressing the aromas and tastes typical of that region, to create a beautifully balanced liquid celebrated worldwide.