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Tag: Gin

New Arrival of the Week: Smouldering Heights Gin

This new product from That Boutique-y Gin Company celebrates a small distillery that rose phoenix-like from the ashes and pays tribute to the greatest novel ever set in Yorkshire (no,…

This new product from That Boutique-y Gin Company celebrates a small distillery that rose phoenix-like from the ashes and pays tribute to the greatest novel ever set in Yorkshire (no, not All Creatures Great and Small).

Spirits are highly flammable, which makes distillation a lot more dangerous than brewing. Distillery fires have long been a problem and still are today. In July 2018 a fire swept through Long Pond distillery in Jamaica destroying around 65,000 litres of rum. In America, to ameliorate the potential effects of just such a fire, distilleries mix up their stock so one wouldn’t leave a hole in the inventory. And they keep their warehouses widely spaced so flames cannot jump from one to another. Despite these precautions, the 1996 fire at Heaven Hill in Bardstown, Kentucky managed to spread to seven warehouses destroying over 90,000 litres of spirit. Apparently the roads ran with burning bourbon and exploding barrels shot across the sky.

Masons Gin

This still is no more

The fire that took place this year in England was less spectacular but no less devastating for those concerned. It took place at Masons Gin in the Yorkshire Dales. This little distillery was set up six years ago by husband and wife team Cathy and Karl Mason. Early in April this year one of their stills blew up and started a major fire. Happily nobody was hurt but production had to be stopped. And in another stroke of luck, the distillery was having a new still fitted that month to increase production so there was already a replacement in the pipeline.

Some of the last spirit distilled in this now-deceased still went into Smouldering Heights gin. You might think that it was especially designed to commemorate the fire but according to Karl Mason, that is not the case:  “This is a liquid created at Masons Yorkshire Gin distillery prior to the fire, that represents our local heritage and traditions. Even the label design, complete with flame-thrower, was conceived before the fire which could be seen as a little spooky!”, he said.

It would seem there are forces at work in the universe that we cannot begin to comprehend. That label is, of course, inspired by Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights with Karl manfully playing the part of Heathcliff and Cathy playing the part of… well, Cathy. Don’t they look great? But it also celebrates the annual burning of heather on the Yorkshire Moors. The smoky flavour in the gin comes from peated malt included in the botanical mix. We’re thinking a smoky Martini would be the best way to toast Mason’s phoenix-like rise from the ashes. Cheers!

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Oily, warm citrus from dried orange peel, coriander seed and Szechuan peppercorns, then delicate angelica, pine-y juniper and a little cardamom. Cassia bark and orris root add aromatic spice in the backdrop.

Palate: The initial focus is citrus, with key lime pie, then more angelica, juniper and exotic spice in support. Soft florals emerge underneath.

Finish: A delicately sweet and herbaceous finish.

“Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy, I’ve come”

 

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Cocktail of the Week: The Bronx

It’s National Martini Day, hurrah! But we’re doing something a little different: a popular Prohibition take on the King of Cocktails, it’s the Bronx! You really wouldn’t want to drink…

It’s National Martini Day, hurrah! But we’re doing something a little different: a popular Prohibition take on the King of Cocktails, it’s the Bronx!

You really wouldn’t want to drink a Martini during Prohibition unless you could get hold of some authentic imported gin which would have been very expensive. So instead you’d have to use a rough bathtub gin, which might be flavoured with turpentine or sulphuric acid (mmmm, tangy), with nothing to temper it except something labelled vermouth (very likely a mixture of grape must, sugar and more rough alcohol). No wonder cocktails with high sugar and fruit content became popular during those sad years. They would hide the taste of the alcohol.

Take the Bronx, for example. It was invented in 1906 at the Old Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York by a barman called Johnny Solon, but it came into its own when good liquor became scarce. Get hold of some orange juice, some “vermouth” and some alcohol that vaguely smelt of juniper, and you could make yourself a palatable cocktail. Especially if you served it really cold. The Bronx is basically a sweet Martini made with orange juice. No wonder the Bronx was the cocktail of the 1920s. It’s the sort of thing that could be made by the bucketful for your Gatsby-esque parties.

The Bronx

The Bronx, next to its better-known cousin, the Martini (photo credit: The Home Bar)

It’s rather gone out of fashion now. There’s a National Martini Day and a Negroni Week, but nobody designates time to enjoy the Bronx. Poor Bronx. Perhaps it’s because we now have good gin coming out of our ears. There’s no need to disguise the flavour. Then there’s the borough itself, which doesn’t have the glamour of Manhattan or the hip of Brooklyn. Plus it’s an easy cocktail to make badly with concentrated orange juice and cheap cooking vermouth. But if you use freshly squeezed orange juice, or my own favourite, blood orange juice, then it’s marvellous concoction. Then when choosing your booze, think orange. I’m using Brighton Gin which has orange peel as one of its botanicals, and two citrus-heavy vermouths, Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato and Noilly Prat Extra Dry.

To turn a Bronx into a Queens, you swap the orange juice for pineapple juice, or in some recipes combine the two, or in others add a bit of lemon to the pineapple. Or you can add a few drops of Angostura bitters in which case it is called an Income Tax (who comes up with these names?). Anyway, enough variations, let’s make a Bronx:

50ml Brighton Gin
25ml Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato
15ml Noilly Prat Orginal Dry
30ml freshly-squeezed orange juice
Dash of Fee Brothers orange bitters

Shake all the ingredients hard with lots of ice and strain into a cold Martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist and shake a wicked calf

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Take a Global Distillery Tour with Lonely Planet

We visit a lot of distilleries here at Master of Malt, but not as many as Karyn Noble from Lonely Planet. She has put a book together taking in the…

We visit a lot of distilleries here at Master of Malt, but not as many as Karyn Noble from Lonely Planet. She has put a book together taking in the main spirit-producing countries plus a few places that are a bit more off the beaten track. . .

Whether it’s gin, Tequila, rum or whisky, spirits are booming at the moment, with new distilleries coming on stream the whole time, and old ones opening their doors to visitors. Fine whiskies, are now made in Taiwan, India and Sweden, for example. Distillery tourism is big business, and what better way to get to know a country or a region than by sampling its local spirit and finding out how it is made. But with so many distilleries to choose from, where do you start? Thankfully top Australian travel writer Karyn Noble and the Lonely Planet team have put together Global Distillery Tour, a guide that takes the hard work out of planning a booze-centred trip. From Lebanon to Nicaragua, the book profiles some of the world’s most interesting distilleries as well as containing guides to different spirits, some cocktail recipes and a list of interesting bars to try on your travels. Phew!

We were lucky enough to get some time with Karyn Noble (who wrote most of the entries on Australia, the UK, Ireland and Sweden) to find out a little more about the project…

Kilchoman Feis Ile

The beautiful stills at Kilchoman on Islay

Master of Malt:  Where did the idea for the book come from?

Karyn Noble: Global Distillery Tour is part of a series of books under the Lonely Planet Food sub-brand. It follows on from Global Beer Tour, which we published in 2017 and Global Coffee Tour, released in 2018, which have both been hugely popular. By then the drinkers of spirits and cocktails in the office were getting a little twitchy and so a pretty strong case was made for this book. (We have a separate series about wine called Wine Trails, to preempt that question!)    

MoM: What tips would you offer for people visiting a distillery?

KN: Talk to the people who work there. It really would be a wasted trip to walk in and order a drink or buy a bottle to take home and learn nothing about what you’ll be drinking. The distillers and people who work in distilleries are usually extremely passionate and proud about what they’ve painstakingly made and want to help guide you towards enjoying what you might like best or introduce you to a potentially new favourite drink. Don’t feel intimidated or be afraid to ask questions. Quite often, people visit distilleries because they’re dragged along by someone more obsessed about spirits, so say that up front like: ‘I usually don’t like whisky, I prefer rum, but is there something I should try?’. If you’re willing to be open-minded, many distillers will take on the challenge of trying to convert you.

MoM: What was the first distillery you ever visited?

KN: Memories are a little vague but I think it was somewhere near Edinburgh in 1996 and it was the first time I’d tried a dram. I let someone who said he was a descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson drive me there and he told me I’d be killed if I asked for water with my whisky. Whisky has felt somewhat reckless and romantic ever since.

Teeling Dublin

You can’t visit Teeling in Dublin and not have a drink.

MoM: Do you have a favourite distillery?

KN: Yes! When I went to Four Pillars gin distillery in Australia’s Yarra Valley, I had to remind them (and myself) I was there for research and not for pleasure, as I always visit when I travel to Melbourne. It’s a lovely excuse for a day trip to the country (about 90 minutes’ drive from the city). One of my editors lives nearby and gave me the hot tip when it opened in 2015. It’s well-located in a renowned wine region and you can sit in what feels like a modern interpretation of a barn with a killer cocktail list or a tasting paddle of gins with unique Australian botanicals and a plate of gin cheese and be very happy with life.

MoM: What was the smallest distillery you visited?

KN: It was Hartshorn Distillery in Tasmania in Australia. I got distiller Ryan Hartshorn at a really exciting time. He distils his sheep whey vodka in the basement of his family’s cheese farm (Grandvewe) and it had just won the World’s Best Vodka in 2018 and he was starting to realise he needed to hire people to help him. The winning vodka hadn’t even gone out to subscribers yet, it had only been tasted by Ryan and the judges and had homemade stickers plastered all over it cheekily saying ‘World’s Best, don’t even look at me’. That was one of my favourite interviews.

MoM: Do you think that spirits are going through something of a golden age?

KN: I think spirits are catching up with the food revolution in that drinkers are becoming more interested in the provenance of what they’re drinking. More people are going to bars and asking for brands now rather than generic spirits. Cocktails and (especially Instagrammable) cocktail bars are becoming more popular. I was chatting to a mixologist from the Maldives recently (unfortunately not in the Maldives) and he was saying that he would have liked to offer more whisky cocktails at his bar but women never ordered them, which led him to believe that women don’t like whisky. Maybe this is true for people holidaying in sunny locations, I’m not sure, but I promptly set about educating him about the Old Fashioned renaissance I’ve been seeing in London bars over the last few years.

Starward

Starward distillery in Melbourne

MoM: Will the gin boom ever end?

KN: I agree the gin market is fairly saturated at the moment, which is why a book like Global Distillery Tour is really handy to help direct people towards craft distillers with compelling stories and unique products. One insightful experience I had when researching this project was at Snowdonia Distillery in North Wales where distiller Chris Marshall got me to blind-taste some mass-market gins (he wouldn’t tell me what they were) before and after trying his small-batch Foragers Gin. They were awful, yet it’s all most people know.

MoM: Do you have a favourite spirit?

KN: I do have a soft spot for gin, especially Four Pillars because it’s so delicious, vibrant and pure, but my head has been turned recently by some complex rums and you can’t peat me too much with whisky: I love a smoky whisky.

MoM: And finally, what’s your favourite cocktail?

KN: Tough question but I’m going to go with what we’ve ranked number one in the book’s World’s Best Cocktails List: I love a Negroni like no-one’s business.

Thank you Karyn! You can buy Global Distillery Tour direct from Lonely Planet.

Domaine de Tourelles in Lebanon, distillers of Arak Brun

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Cocktail of the Week: The Mellow Yellow

This week we talk to Stephen Marsh, the man behind Pinkster, and try a summery cocktail especially designed to go with his pink gin. When Pinkster was launched in 2013,…

This week we talk to Stephen Marsh, the man behind Pinkster, and try a summery cocktail especially designed to go with his pink gin.

When Pinkster was launched in 2013, pink gin as a category did not exist. Fast forward six years, and according to the WSTA, flavoured and pink gins are now valued at £165m, up a staggering 751% on 2017. Stephen Marsh, Pinkster’s inventor, laughs when I suggest he created a monster. He describes it as “a hobby that’s grown wildly out of control.”  

It all began when Marsh began reacting badly to alcoholic drinks. A doctor told him that it was because sugar and yeast were upsetting his system and advised that he give up beer and wine. Neutral spirits like gin and vodka, though, were fine. Marsh switched to gin but encountered a problem: “juniper is a very bitter botanical and doesn’t go very well with food, except game”, he told me.

Stephen Marsh, Pinkster Gin copy

Stephen Marsh, the man behind the gin

So, he set out to create a gin that would be more versatile with food, mainly by trial and error; “I’m not a scientist, I’m an arts graduate,” he said. Nevertheless, Marsh has long been a fruit gin maker so he did have some experience. “I went through the fruit bowl, before having a eureka moment. Raspberries and juniper do something really special together.” Having made this discovery, it took four years to perfect the recipe.

According to Marsh, he had no plans to commercialise it. But friends told him how good the product was. So to make sure it “wasn’t just people being nice”, as he put it, he made up a load and took it to food festivals around the country. Rather than just giving out samples and asking people their opinions, he sold Pinkster drinks and made a note of the number of people who came back for seconds. It quickly became clear that he was on to a winner.

Not everyone was so keen. “We got a lot of push back from the trade. People were a bit sniffy about Pinkster because it wasn’t a classic London dry gin”, Marsh said. But customers loved it and began asking for it by name. Pinkster inspired legions of imitators. Marsh is diplomatic about his competitors, but concedes that many pink gins are gins only in name as they don’t really taste of juniper, and they can be incredibly sweet. Pinkster is made by taking a distilled dry gin, produced by G&J Distillers, and then adding raspberries and other botanicals, which is where it gets its pretty colour from.

Mellow yellow

The Mellow Yellow – it’s clearly orange

Marsh recommends drinking Pinkster in a Martini with elderflower cordial in place of vermouth. This week’s cocktail, however, is a little more elaborate. It was created especially for Pinkster by top bartender Joe Brayford when he was at the Worship Street Whistling Shop (since closed) in London. Marsh met him when his son dragged him for a night out in Shoreditch. It’s a refreshing summer drink (if we get a summer this year) and a good way of using up that bottle of limoncello your mother-in-law bought you from her holiday in Amalfi.

Right, without further ado, here is Mellow Yellow!

30ml Pinkster Gin
25ml Luxardo limoncello
3 basil leaves
Ginger ale

Shake the gin, limoncello and two basil leaves with ice. Double strain into a wine glass filled with ice, top up with ginger ale, stir and garnish with a sprig of basil.

 

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Minor celebrity boozes

While we appreciate the George Clooneys and David Beckhams of this industry – and we do, honest – it’s only right to champion less famous celebs, shall we say, who are…

While we appreciate the George Clooneys and David Beckhamof this industry – and we do, honest – it’s only right to champion less famous celebs, shall we say, who are hustling hard on their own booze projects. Here, we present the alcohol brands of ten celebrities you’re more likely to find cutting a supermarket ribbon than walking the red carpet…

Celebrities come in all shapes and sizes. Not everyone is meant to be the most visible, the most talked-about, the highest-earning and the most powerful, there simply isn’t enough space. For every exclusive Ryan Reynolds press junket, we need an X Factor finalist to turn on Christmas lights in Stoke on Trent. C’est la vie.

Looking across TV hosts, soap actors, former pop stars and more, we’ve picked ten lesser-known celebrity faces who are dabbling – or have dabbled – in distilling, winemaking and brewing.

Neat Gin

It’s only Ian Beale!

Neat Gin

Who made it? Adam Woodyatt.

Remind us who he is again? You’ll know him better as Ian Beale from BBC soap opera EastEnders.

What’s the goss? The EastEnders legend launched Neat Gin with wife Beverley back in 2017. The London Dry-style sipper was inspired by a 15th-century recipe which listed botanicals but, crucially, no quantities. Eleven ingredients were refined to just eight, and Neat was born. He’s come a long way since Phil Mitchell flushed his head down the loo.

Graham Norton’s Own Pink Gin

Who made it? Graham Norton, unsurprisingly.

Remind us who he is again? An Irish television and radio presenter, comedian, actor, author, commentator, and the face of comedy chat show The Graham Norton Show.

What’s the goss? Norton has a wine label made by New Zealand producer Invivo, with whom he first teamed up with back in 2014. One Sauvignon Blanc, one rosé, one Shiraz and a Prosecco later, the TV host turned his hand to gin through a partnership with Ireland’s West Cork Distillers.

MMMhops

Mmmhops, you see what they did there?

Mmmhops

Who made it? Hanson.

Remind us who they are again? An American pop band best known for their hit single, Mmmbop. Geddit?

What’s the goss? Since brothers Isaac, Taylor, and Zac Hanson launched craft beer brand Hanson Brothers Beer back in 2013, they’ve created four flavourful brews – Mmmhops, Festive Ale, Redland Amber Ale and Tulsa Tea – plus a further two in collaboration with other breweries. The company’s strapline? Music + beer = awesome. Eh, we can’t argue with that.

Sven The Wine Collection

Who made it? Sven-Göran Eriksson.

Remind us who he is again? The Swedish football manager and former player who took England to the World Cup back in 2006.

What’s the goss? Back in 2014, Göran Eriksson unveiled Sven The Wine Collection, made by Italy’s Casa Girelli with indigenous grape varieties. His white bottling is a blend of Grillo and Fiano grapes, while the red in the collection features Nero d’Avola and Frappato. He released the collection across Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland – whether any bottles remain, we don’t know.

Tres Papalote Mezcal

Tres Papalote Mezcal

Tres Papalote Mezcal

Who made it? Cheech Marin.

Remind us who he is again? An American stand-up comedian and actor, best known as part of the comedy act Cheech & Chong.

What’s the goss? Marin is a partner and brand ambassador for Tres Papalote Mezcal, a three-strong range made from Wild Cupreata agave grown on the mountaintops of Guerrero, Mexico. If you’re wondering what he thinks about the smoky spirit, Marin is quoted as saying that mezcal is “like Tequila but with tattoos and piercings”. He’s not wrong.

Ver2 Vodka

Who made it? Shane Lynch.

Remind us who he is again? An Irish singer-songwriter, best known for his time in Boyzone. Apparently, he’s a professional drift driver now.

What’s the goss? Lynch joined forces with caffeine and guarana-infused vodka brand Ver2, which was marketed as ‘Great Britain’s first energy vodka’ – make of that what you will – before industry watchdogs the Portman Group threw the book at them. The brand’s Twitter feed seems to exist solely to retweet questionable political opinions these days, so we’re guessing Ver2 is no more.

 

Ringmaster General Shiraz 2010

Sweet dreams are made of these

Ringmaster General Shiraz 2010

Who made it? Dave Stewart

No seriously, who? He was one half of British pop duo Eurythmics (the other half being Annie Lennox)

What’s the goss? Stewart teamed up with McLaren Vale estate Mollydooker to launch Ringmaster General Shiraz 2010, named after his 2012 album release. The bottling is said to be a version of the Aussie winemakers’ Carnival of Love Shiraz 2010, which is barrel-fermented and matured in 100% new American oak. Suggested food pairing? Kangaroo, obviously.

Angel Alkaline Gin

Who made it? Steven Gerrard.

Remind us who he is again? Liverpool’s former central midfielder and now manager of Scottish Premiership club Rangers.

What’s the goss? The Gers gaffer is reportedly set to add a range of flavoured gins to his alkaline water brand, Angel Alkaline. Described as “a premium contemporary English gin lovingly handcrafted with our natural alkaline water and bottled in England”, the range is pipped to span watermelon, lemon, blueberry and lime flavours. The news only broke in May 2019, so watch this space.

This stout weighs in at 13%

Drew Curtis / Wil Wheaton / Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout

Who made it? Wil Wheaton.

No seriously, who? The American actor best known for portraying Wesley Crusher on TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

What’s the goss? Working with Stone Brewery co-founder Greg Koch and Fark.com creator Drew Curtis, Wil (only one ‘l’ for some reason) Wheaton created a speciality imperial stout made using pecans, wheat, flaked rye and bourbon barrels. A new edition of the 13% ABV bottling is released every year, complete with awesome illustrated label.

Garden Shed Gin

Rugby gin

Garden Shed Gin

Who made it? Ryan Grant,

No seriously, who? A retired British and Irish Lions rugby player.

What’s the goss? The former Scotland international rugby union player swapped rugby balls for botanicals, launching The Garden Shed Drinks Company back in 2017 in partnership with wife Maxine and fellow rugby player Ruaridh Jackson. As well as the London Dry-style Garden Shed Gin bottling, the Glasgow-based team also makes Côte-Rôtie gin, which is aged in a French wine barrel.

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Chefs with boozes

As the link between kitchen and bar strengthens and their approaches to ingredients and flavour further align, certain highly-acclaimed chefs have switched their aprons for lab coats to dabble in…

As the link between kitchen and bar strengthens and their approaches to ingredients and flavour further align, certain highly-acclaimed chefs have switched their aprons for lab coats to dabble in distilling and brewing. Looking across whisky, gin, beer and beyond, we’ve championed 10 bottlings created with a chef’s sensibilities…

I’ve heard it said that if you want to know what the next cocktail trend will be, you should look at techniques used 10 years ago in fine dining kitchens across the world. This might sound like an insult on paper, but it’s a testament to how rapidly the industry has progressed, and the immensely high standard it’s held up to. Today’s bartenders approach their creations like artists, crafting complex, thought-provoking drinks that could rival the finest Michelin-starred dish – or better yet, find a place on the table alongside it.

Developing a botanical combination for a spirit, or a mash for a beer involves inventing a recipe after all, so it’s unsurprising that celebrated distillers, blenders and brewers have explored collaborations with cooks. Some chefs have even made the leap from dish to distillery full-time. Take Copenhagen’s Empirical Spirits, founded in 2017 by Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen – before turning their eyes to spirits, the duo headed up Noma, which won the title of world’s best restaurant a casual five times. No biggie.

Looking to the future, we can only foresee more collaboration between the worlds of food and drink. The 10 distilleries and breweries that follow flung open their doors to celebrated chefs and together, they cooked up some seriously special boozes…

Chefs

Salcombe Gin’s Voyager Series features an eclectic range of collaborations

Salcombe Distilling Company’s Voyager Series

The Devon-based producers of Salcombe Gin have partnered with not one but three culinary geniuses for its ongoing Voyager Series, a collection of limited edition bottlings developed in collaboration with a winemaker or chef. To date, Michael Caines (not to be confused with the star of Get Carter and Jaws: The Revenge), Mark Hix, and Monica Galetti have flexed their botanical brains to design a characterful gin unique to them.

Anspach & Hobday x Tom Sellers

Michelin-starred chef Tom Sellers – the man behind London’s Restaurant Story – teamed up with Anspach & Hobday to create farmhouse-style ale Story Saison, which is infused with clementine preserves made in his very own restaurant kitchen. Incidentally, he’s worked with the craft brewery before on a smoked brown ale.

Chefs

L’Anima raised £108,900 for Food for Soul, a non-profit that works to counter food waste through social inclusion.

The Dalmore x Massimo Bottura

Earlier this year, single malt Scotch whisky The Dalmore joined forces with Massimo Bottura – Michelin-starred chef and owner of revered Modena-based eatery Osteria Francescana – to release The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years (l’anima means ‘soul’ in Italian, FYI). The liquid combines whiskies aged in small-batch bourbon barrels, Graham’s vintage Port pipes, and González Byass casks that formerly contained 40-year-old Pedro Ximénez Sherry. Phwoar.

Cornish Gin x Tom Brown

Produced at The Wrecking Coast Distillery, juniper-forward Cornerstone Rare Cornish Gin has been developed to complement the dishes at Tom Brown’s fish-centric Hackney Wick restaurant, Cornerstone. Flavour-wise, we’re talking “generous coriander notes, strong citrus influences” and an injection of hedgerow rosehip and rowan berries – a tip of the hat to the gin’s Cornish roots.

Chefs

Ducasse & Co. approached creating this vodka as a dish rather than as a liquid.

Grey Goose x Alain Ducasse

Grey Goose cellar-master Francois Thibault teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse to create a “gastronomic vodka” for the brand’s 20th anniversary – approaching the spirit as a dish rather than as a liquid. The result, Grey Goose Interpreted By Ducasse, is made by blending distillates of French wheat that have undergone light, medium and heavy toasting.

Hepple Gin x Valentine Warner

When TV chef and forager Valentine Warner partnered with Moorland Spirit Company to create Hepple Gin, he enlisted tried-and-tested culinary techniques to achieve the flavour he sought – including vacuum distillation and a CO2 extraction process. The final recipe contains three types of juniper, Amalfi lemon, liquorice, douglas fir and bog myrtle, among others.

Chefs

The sublime Oldstead Garden Spirits

Cooper King Distillery x The Black Swan

Last year, Yorkshire’s Cooper King Distillery created a series of bespoke distillates for nearby Michelin-starred restaurant The Black Swan using flowers and plants grown in the venue’s kitchen garden. Marigold, lemon verbena, fennel pollen and chicory root were picked, delivered to the distillery and vacuum-distilled on the same day to create four variants, known collectively as Oldstead Garden Spirits.

Sharp’s Brewery x Rick Stein

TV chef and restaurateur Rick Stein created Chalky’s Bite – made from Cornish fennel, Cornish malted barley and three different hops – at Cornwall’s Sharp’s Brewery, naming the bottling after his beloved Jack Russell Terrier. Unfortunately Chalky paid his dues at the great dog park in the sky before the bottling could hit the shelves, so the beer, designed to be paired with seafood, was released in tribute. Excuse me, I’ve got something in my eyes…

Chefs

Bonkers botanicals galore can be found in Slingsby bottlings!

Slingsby Gin x Michael O’Hare

You might be wondering where the all the madcap, slightly bonkers ingredients are. Thankfully, British chef Michael O’Hare – of Michelin-starred restaurant The Man Behind The Curtain – and Yorkshire-based Slingsby Gin have served up the goods with a savoury gin containing local botanicals, Exmoor caviar and even more bizarrely, plankton.

Hackney Brewery x Pip Lacey

Great British Menu 2017 winner Pip Lacey and long-time business partner Gordy McIntyre got together with the good folks at London’s Hackney Brewery to design a unique beer for the opening of their first eatery, Hicce, a wood-fired restaurant in King’s Cross. Smooth and light, Hicce by Hackney Session IPA is hopped like an IPA but lower in alcohol.

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Fantastic Father’s Day Gifts

Father’s Day is coming; you need a gift. But there’s no need to panic. We’ve got all kinds of fantastic booze-based presents right here! On 16 June we have a…

Father’s Day is coming; you need a gift. But there’s no need to panic. We’ve got all kinds of fantastic booze-based presents right here!

On 16 June we have a welcome opportunity to show our dads how much we appreciate them. Father’s Day is when we say thanks and give a little bit of love to the father figures in our life. But man can they be hard to buy for.

That’s why we’re here to make it easier. From tasting sets to gift vouchers, our snazzy Father’s Day gift ideas page complete with our shiny new gift finder – we’ve got it all. It’s so simple you’ll be wondering why you ever thought you’d need to leave the house. You should never want to leave the house. Inside is warm and has Netflix.

We’ve also rounded-up a spectacular range of drinks in one handy little blog post just to give you an idea of the kind of treats you can buy for your old man. It beats socks, right?

Happy Father’s Day, all!

The Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set 2019

Yer da loves whisky, right? But which whisky? What style does he like? Do they have a preference of distillery? What if you get it wrong? These are all questions that can go through the mind of someone trying to buy their dad whisky. But in the The Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set 2019 (an exclusive made for us by our good friends Drinks by the Dram), none of this matters. That’s because each set contains five different 30ml drams of terrific whisky from world-class producers, so there’s bound to be something he loves inside.

What’s inside?:

The contents of the The Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set 2019 includes: Tamdhu 10 Year Old, Lagavulin 8 Year Old, 1792 Small Batch, Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky and Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old.

The Father’s Day Gin Tasting Set 2019

Drinks by the Dram have created, just for us, the perfect Father’s Day gift for any gin lover. This tasting set features five different 30ml drams of delicious gin from a range of superb producers, exactly the kind of thing you’d want if you were looking to find a new favourite juniper-based libation…

What’s inside?:

The contents of the The Father’s Day Gin Tasting Set 2019 includes: Hernö Gin, Salcombe Gin – Start Point, Elephant Gin – Elephant Strength, Japanese Gin and Rhubarb Triangle Gin (That Boutique-y Gin Company).

Glengoyne 12 Year Old

An especially approachable bottling for newcomers and a welcome dram for experienced whisky drinkers alike, Glengoyne 12 Year Old is a wonderfully-made whisky with a clean, fresh profile and plenty of depth of flavour. You just can’t go wrong with this one.

What does it taste like?:

Toffee apples, a little acacia honey, nectarine in syrup and spice, over-ripe grapes, coconut milk, oak spice and coffee supported by toasted barley and chocolate ice-cream in the background. Yum!

Peaky Blinder Spiced Dry Gin

One for the Tommy Shelby fans out there. For those not in the know, the Peaky Blinders were a street gang from the late 19th/early 20th Century that became the basis for a very popular TV show. This spicy gin is no gimmick, however, as its medals at both the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the International Spirits Challenge in 2018 demonstrate.

What does it taste like?:

Ginger and black pepper make for a spicy opening, though well balanced by ample helpings of ripe orange, oaky cassia, oily juniper, and hints of eucalyptus and coffee bean.

Rumbullion!

If rich, full-bodied rums are what you’re looking for this Father’s Day, then look no further than the proudly maritime Rumbullion! Part of the fantastic Abelforth’s range, this spiced rum was created using a blend of high proof Caribbean rum, creamy Madagascan vanilla, zesty orange peel, a handful of cassia and cloves and just a hint of cardamom.

What does it taste like?:

Intense, sweet vanilla, flamed orange zest, cardamom, old-fashioned cola, Manuka honey, molasses, candy floss, toffee apples, crème brûlée and a fabulous mix of thick cut bitter orange marmalade and tingling, zinging spices from cloves and cinnamon.

Forest Gin

A family-made small-batch gin, Forest Gin is a real labour of love. Karl and Lindsay Bond made it using their own copper condenser with local spring water as well as a blend of classic gin botanicals (think organic juniper berries and coriander seeds) and bundles of foraged botanicals (wild bilberries, gorse flowers, raspberries and local moss) from Macclesfield Forest which were processed using a pestle and mortar. That’s dedication.

What does it taste like?:

Plenty of earthy forest floor notes, sweet berries, moss, rooty liquorice and spice from cassia and cinnamon.

WhistlePig 12 Year Old Oloroso Cask – Old World (Master of Malt)

Why not make your father feel really special this year by getting him a gift he can’t find anywhere else, like this Master of Malt exclusive bottling of 12-year-old rye whiskey from WhistlePig! Finished exclusively in Oloroso sherry casks and released as part of the Old World series, this is a sublime sherried rye whiskey.

What does it taste like?:

Bucketfuls of dried fruit, with sweet caramel and vanilla, new leather, wonderful rich sherry notes and a pinch of tobacco alongside prominent warming spicy notes and orange oil.

Manchester Gin

Emblazoned with the bee from Manchester’s coat of arms and featuring the dandelion and burdock root, Manchester Gin is a delightful celebration of the North. It was created with 12 botanicals in total, including juniper, ground almond, coriander, angelica and citrus peels, all of which were distilled in Wendy (a copper pot still, just to be clear) by couple Jen Wiggins and Seb Heeley (who aren’t copper pot stills, just to be even clearer). A string of awards has followed since its release, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s tasted it.

What does it taste like?:

Earthy and creamy with a pleasant sweetness and balancing juniper and citrus.

Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal Gift Pack with x2 Glasses

If you want to really spoil the father in your life this year, then why not get him a delightful gift pack? This particular edition features a beautiful pair of glasses perfect for enjoying a 70cl bottle of Rémy Martin’s stunning 1738 Accord Royal, a Cognac created to celebrate Louis XV’s decision to grant a young Rémy Martin the right to plant new vines on his land (banned in France at the time) with the Accord Royal in, yes, you’ve guessed it, 1738.

What does it taste like?:

Ripe fruit and vanilla with a slightly herbal vinous note and pronounced, but not overpowering, oak finish.

Fortaleza Añejo

A family occasion should be celebrated with a good bottle of booze created using generations of knowledge passed down through a rich family history. That’s exactly what Guillermo Sauza had on his side when he launched Fortaleza in 2005, bringing back the traditions of previous generations at the family distillery to make expressions like this delicious añejo, which was aged for 18 months in American oak casks.

What does it taste like?:

A beautiful combination of agave and butterscotch, sultanas and mixed peels. Oily, complex, outstanding.

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Booze branding buzzword bingo

Today the choice of what we drink has never been greater, from gins made with unusual botanicals to whisky from far-out places like, err, Norfolk. Why then, asks bartender Nate…

Today the choice of what we drink has never been greater, from gins made with unusual botanicals to whisky from far-out places like, err, Norfolk. Why then, asks bartender Nate Brown, is marketing often so formulaic? 

Making a product is only half the bottle (sic). Often, the real work starts when it comes to selling it. Thus, distillation complete, in steps the branding team (funding permitting), fresh with their focus group pie charts, jealous competitor analysis and creepy demographic detailing. It’s their job to create a connection with potential consumers amid a myriad of new releases. They try to put flavour and lifestyle into words. Sadly, they often employ a limited lexicon to appeal to as many people as possible. Rather than risk offence or isolating a portion of their audience, they use a homogeneous factory line of copy cats and safe bets.

‘Retail is detail’

So, here’s a fun game: read the back label from an anonymous spirits bottle and try and guess what it is. Chances are you’ll be met with a bingo scorecard of buzzwords. In order to help you through the word soup, I’ve provided this handy guide:

Artisan: This product has been made by someone with zero qualifications but it makes them feel better about themselves after a career in finance

Craft: Like graft, only without the attention to detail and the love. Craft means made. We know it’s made. It’s in our hand. Don’t celebrate craft, celebrate graft.

Foraged: We weren’t planning on using these botanicals but they’re free.

Founded by: Somebody whose fabricated story tentatively embodies what we want our product to be. We think that by having a face on the label you’ll find us more likeable. The founder is not real. Unless it’s your mate.

Fruity: A deliciously lazy catch all. It could be passion fruit, it could be tomato, or it could be that lovely pear top note you get from poorly-distilled spirits.

Handcrafted: Just like hand-cut chips, which are chips cut by machine with an on button pressed by a real life human. Handcrafted, when you think about it, is a little bit seedy and creepy.

Innovative: We came up with this idea almost all by ourselves. Almost. Besides, someone was already doing what we planned to do.

Smooth: Lacking bite, or possibly flavour. Or maybe structure. Or the finish. Or we’ve added sugar to compensate for its horridness. Or we have literally nothing else to say about this spirit.

Nate Brown

Nate Brown, hand-crafting a cocktail

Bonus points awarded for:

Water source: We have a reverse osmosis machine to demineralise and reduce our water to pure H2O (so does literally everyone else but we’ll just ignore that).

X years experience: We’re going to pretend that practice makes perfect, and that all the years we’ve served in this industry have somehow been building to this point.

These buzzwords suggest a dumbing down of our industry, but actually the opposite is true. We as customers are becoming more and more aware of the liquid in the glass, the words on the label should follow suit.

Nate Brown has owned and operated spirit specialist cocktail bars in London for the better part of a decade. He’s a regular speaker on industry panels, a judge for various spirit awards and has been known to harbour an opinion or two.  

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Cocktail of the Week: The Long Sloe Summer

Sloe gin isn’t just for Christmas, says pioneering bartender Nick Strangeway. This week’s cocktail eloquently explains why. Long before foraging became fashionable, people were making sloe gin. These tiny sour…

Sloe gin isn’t just for Christmas, says pioneering bartender Nick Strangeway. This week’s cocktail eloquently explains why.

Long before foraging became fashionable, people were making sloe gin. These tiny sour plums that appear in autumn hedgerows aren’t great for eating but do something magical when steeped with gin and sugar. By the following winter, you have something delicious to drink. Bartender and founder of Hepple Gin, Nick Strangeway told me: “Everybody thinks of it as something you drink around Christmas and then forget about for the rest of the year.”

But he uses sloe gin all year round in a variety of cocktails: “When I worked with Dick Bradsell”, he said, “we made a drink with sloe gin called the Wibble, named after the marketing director of Plymouth Gin at the time who would wobble but wouldn’t fall over”. He also recommended other sloe gin cocktails like the Hedgerow Sling and the Charlie Chaplin.

Strangeway is a stalwart of the London bar scene who worked with Bradsell at such legendary venues such as Fred’s and the Atlantic. Strangeway remembers his mentor very fondly: “Some of the places he worked in were not what you’d call salubrious yet he would look after you as though you’re in the Savoy,” said Strangeway. I asked him what was the most important thing he learned from the master: “Most of it was to do with looking after customers. Bars are about customers, rather than about drinks. Without nice customers and nice staff, it’s irrelevant whether you make good drinks”, he said.

Long Sloe Summer

Nick Strangeway, bartender and founder of Hepple Gin

Anyway, back to those sloes. The Moorland Spirits Company, the business that Strangeway founded in 2014 with chef Valentine Warner and others in Northumbria, has just launched its Hepple Sloe and Hawthorn Gin. It’s less sweet than a standard sloe gin: “Sugar can cloud complex flavours like the sloe”, Strangeway told me. It’s also bottled at a higher ABV than most rivals: “There’s a tendency to default to what already exists, rather than the right ABV. When we did ours, we thought 32% ABV was best in terms of flavour delivery”, he said. The Hawthorn “add another level of dryness to it”, as well as continuing the hedgerow theme.

Strangeway spends half the year in Denmark and he is very inspired by New (well “old now”, he jokes) Nordic Cookery, “a northern style of cookery that’s fresh and light. In terms of flavours Hepple and indeed Northumbria is Nordic”, he said. He’s also inspired by how Scandinavian chefs use technology to bring out flavours. Hepple Gin is made using a ‘Triple Technique’ compromising of traditional pot still, vacuum distillation and CO2 extraction. This juniper-heavy gin is used as a base for the Sloe and Hawthorn Gin.

So now on to the cocktail, the Long Sloe Summer. Strangeway mixes his sloe gin with fino sherry which “adds dryness and salinity.” The final ingredients are a splash of tonic for a spritz and some green olives for a savoury element. “I wanted a long drink that wasn’t massively high in ABV, a drink I could drink all summer long”, he said.

Cheers, Nick!

Long Sloe Summer

The Long Sloe Summer

30ml Hepple Sloe and Hawthorn Gin
30ml Tio Pepe fino sherry
150ml of tonic water
2 Green Olives to garnish

In a large wine glass combine the sloe gin and the sherry, add lots of ice, top up with tonic and stir. Garnish with two green olives.

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Win a VIP trip to Bombay Sapphire Distillery

WIN the trip of a lifetime to Bombay Sapphire’s home, the beautiful Laverstoke Mill Distillery Enjoy a hosted tour, cocktail-making class, two nights accommodation and more Everyone’s a winner – £5…

  • WIN the trip of a lifetime to Bombay Sapphire’s home, the beautiful Laverstoke Mill Distillery
  • Enjoy a hosted tour, cocktail-making class, two nights accommodation and more
  • Everyone’s a winner – £5 off Bombay English Estate

We love gin. You love gin. It’s not just the refreshing nature of a good G&T in the garden or the joy of a well-made gin-based cocktail that charms us. We want to learn the stories and witness first-hand how our favourite spirits are made. Hence the rising popularity of distillery tours. And there’s few as comprehensive as the one that the lovely folks at the Laverstoke Mill Distillery in Hampshire provide. The home of Bombay Sapphire is not only a delightfully picturesque scene of the English countryside, but it’s also a working distillery filled with all kinds of experiences that any gin geek would enjoy.

Good thing then that we’re offering you the chance to win a VIP trip to see it in person (with a plus-one)!

Bombay Sapphire

Laverstoke Mill, one of the most beautiful distilleries in the country

“What exactly do I win?!”

Lots of lovely things. The winner (and their plus-one) of this competition earn a VIP visit to Bombay Sapphire’s distillery where they’ll then enjoy a hosted tour called ‘A Taste of Bombay’. This curated experience includes a visit the Mill House for an introduction to the heritage and sustainability of Laverstoke Mill, where refreshments will be provided, before a walk along the River Test to take in some horticultural. A complimentary cocktail will also be provided at the Mill Bar, as well as the opportunity to make the ‘cocktail of the month’ with one of the brand’s specially trained hosts.

Oh, and the winner will also enjoy a tasting of Bombay Sapphire’s gin portfolio, explore the Gin Shop, and enjoy two nights’ accommodation with UK travel and lunch included. If you’re a gin fan, you’re probably already scrolling down to find out how you can win this wonderful competition. Which is handy, because that’s where the ‘How to Apply’ bit is.

Bombay Sapphire

The wonderful Botanical Dry Room and Dakin Still House

The ‘How to Apply’ bit

You will be automatically entered into the competition if you purchase a 70cl bottle from the distillery range. It’s that simple. Indulge yourself in any of the following, Bombay Sapphire, Bombay Sapphire East, Star Of Bombay London Dry Gin, Bombay Original London Dry Gin and Bombay English Estate from 22 May to 16 June 2019 and you’re in it to win it (For more details, see the competition terms below). There’s no limit to how many bottles you can buy, so get as many as you want.

It gets even better. Since we love you all so much we’ve also reduced the price of Bombay English Estate for the length of the competition, saving you a whole £5! The limited edition bottling was inspired by the landscape surrounding the brand’s home at Laverstoke Mill in the Hampshire countryside and made with an infusion of three new botanicals: Pennyroyal mint, rosehip and toasted hazelnut. With a bottle of this beauty, you’ll feel like a winner regardless of whether you win the prize or not.

Please note there are set dates the prize can be claimed, which are as follows:
– Thursday 18 July 2019 13:15
– Thursday 29 August 2019 13:15
– Thursday 12 September 2019 13:15
– Thursday 10 October 2019 13:15

Bombay Sapphire

There’s £5 off Bombay English Estate!

Good luck, all!

MoM Bombay 2019 Competition open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 22 May to 16 June 2019. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Travel only provided from a UK location. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. Prize must be claimed on specific dates and times. Entry also available with no purchase. See full T&Cs for details.

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