Welcome back to my Around The World In 80 Drams journey, which kicked off last week from the East London Liquor Co., unsurprisingly in East London. I left you with something of a riddle at the end of the last post, leaving hints as to where I’m off to next: sun, sea, superb beer and how it would take me 23 hours to travel there by pug (pugs run at an average of 3-5 miles per hour). Of course, I’m off to Adnams in Southwold!
Now, when I said I’m bad at geography and that this series will help me learn things, I meant it. If you had asked me where Southwold was before I looked at a map, I’d have said it was somewhere near Southampton. “It’s got ‘South’ in the name and those two kind of sound similar, they’re probably right next to each other,” I believe were the words that went through my head. Well, it’s safe to say I’m learning already, as Southwold is a little bit more northerly than I thought.
From what I can see on the Google, Southwold looks like a lovely place to visit if you like lighthouses and beer. I’m not a huge fan of beer (living in Somerset for a good portion of my life, cider is much more my thing – we’ll get to that in later adventures), but I bloody love a good lighthouse, I do. The Southwold Lighthouse was built all the way back in 1889, replacing three lighthouses that had been condemned because of coastal erosion. Just look at this excellent lighthouse.
Aww yeah. That’s one kick-ass lighthouse.
Back to the beer, the Adnams Brewery was founded in Southwold back in 1872 (before the Southwold lighthouse was built) by George and Ernest Adnams. Ever since, they’ve been producing tasty brews by the coast, including the ever popular Broadside Bitter, and the Southwold Bitter – Jake even found this awesome sign for it when he went to visit.
Try it. Try saying fuggle and not smiling. If that doesn’t work, try saying it like a dragon would.
That’s right, I’m following in Jake’s footsteps with this focus on Adnams. And Ben’s, too! They’ve both visited Southwold to get a taste of their wares, and henceforth, I shall be cribbing picture from their posts to make mine look nice. However, neither took any photos of the lighthouse, which is a pretty damning oversight on their part.
This is alright though.
Adnams have been distilling spirits since 2010 using their gorgeous Carl still and their fermentation vessels. Not washbacks. Fermentation vessels. Get it right. Using all their equipment, they’ve been able to produce an impressive variety of spirits, including vodka, gin, eaux-de-vie, beer eau-de-vie(!), liqueur, absinthe and of course, English whisky.
I know a few people called Carl (or Karl). None of them are quite as shiny.
Speaking of whisky, let’s have a taste of Adnams’ first single malt, the handsomely presented Adnams Single Malt No.1. This one was made from 100% East Anglian barley, matured in virgin French oak casks for 3 years and a day (they also made the Adnams Triple Grain No.2 Whisky, using barley, wheat and oats).
2. Southwold, England – Adnams Single Malt No 1
Nose: Light and fruity – think white grape, peach and a touch of unripe pear. Nutty nougat – the white and pink kind you find in old sweet shops! This is followed by grassy touches and a hint of lemon peels.
Palate: Honey and lemon – a great pairing that balance each other’s respective sweetness and sharpness. Chewy orange sweeties join the fray, along with notes of bubblegum. The grassiness continues from the nose, bringing fragrance to the fore. Right near the end of the mid-palate, you’ll find a touch of vanilla reminiscent of the back of stamps (in a good way!).
Finish: A little bit short, but enjoyably elegant and floral as it goes.
A final note about Southwold – George Orwell, author of 1984, Down and Out in Paris and London and more, spent plenty of time in Southwold, developing ideas for Burmese Days and later writing parts of A Clergyman’s Daughter there. Now, me and Mr. Orwell have a bit of a connection – it’s tenuous at best, but we’ve got history. Back in school, I used to be something of an actor and our school put on a performance of Orwell’s Animal Farm. I played the part of Benjamin, a smart, stubborn old donkey (good casting by the director). Long story short, I wore a very fluffy waistcoat, said “Eee-orr” a lot, ran backstage to vomit mid-performance and never acted again. So there’s that.
Luckily no pictures of me in costume exist, but this is pretty close.
Right, time to say “so long” to Southwold and head abroad for the first time on my trip! Where am I going next? There’s canals, art, a cool tram network and a very, very long history of drinks production. Also, it would take me the better part of 4 hours to get their by giraffe if it was going full speed the entire way – which is unlikely, considering the amount of sea between Southwold and my destination. We’d probably just get a boat. It’d be like Life of Pi, except a lot milder.