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The World Atlas of Beer (3rd Edition) by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont – a pub crawl around the planet with two expert drinkers.

This beautifully illustrated guide sweeps through the fascinating heritage, culture and creativity of brewing over the centuries to the most exciting and exemplary new brands of ales and beers today.  Travel around the six continents from Czech Republic to China, Mexico to Mauritius, UK to USA on an exuberant, thirst- quenching road trip.

Well designed chapters and colourful, illustrated pages

First published in 2012, the third edition has been completely revised and updated by the co-authors, Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont. Beautifully designed with world map of chapters to browse through at leisure.

Beer is, they say, “the world’s favourite alcoholic beverage”  made from fermented, boiled grain, hops, and the finely crafted creation of flavour: “citrus, dried fruits, herbal, floral, toffee, spicy, earthy, vanilla, chocolate and old bookshops … beer is not simple.”

The four largest brewing companies are based in Belgium, Netherlands, China and Denmark, producing the best-selling brands. This book however explores the growth of independent, Craft breweries offering distinctive taste and local character.

The origins of beer dating back to 9000BC in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and then the Egyptians who used barley, followed by the Celts who brewed with barley, wheat and oats, from 2000 BC.

Louis Pasteur, experiments with yeast to assist beer making

In the 7th century hops were added as a preservative and the French chemist, Dr. Louis Pasteur discovered in the mid 19th century that yeast was key to the fermentation process. Learn all about the history and heritage from grain to glass, with diverse international techniques.

The quaint old Bow Bar, Victoria Street, Edinburgh

Stephen and Tim have selected their favourite bars worldwide, including the charming old pub, The Bow Bar, Edinburgh, Oliver Twist, Stockholm, ‘t, Brugs Beertje, Bruges, Frango, Sao Paulo and Toronado, San Francisco.

One of the best for beer – Toronado, San Francisco

The British Beer industry is a fascinating story such as strong, dark Porter, so named as it was popular with stevedore dockworkers, and the export of special pale ale to India, is the original IPA.   The entrepreneurial brewer, Samuel Allsopp developed refined IPA for the UK and Empire as well as draught Bitter with great success.

Scotland is renowned for innovation and quality – Traquair House in the Scottish Borders opened the world’s first modern craft brewery in 1965, while Fyne Ales and Tempest are two new award winning companies, leading the way.

Other recommended British brands include Burning Sky, Buxton, Beavertown, and Red Rock wheat beers from Devon. Vintage breweries include St. Austell and Timothy Taylor.

Think of Ireland, think of Guinness, the dark, dry, creamy stout, first produced by Arthur Guinness, Dublin in 1759, one of the most successful alcohol brands worldwide.  But there are around 75 small independent, craft breweries vying for attention.

In 2016, Belgian Beer culture was given Unesco Heritage protection status given its global importance.  Why? “Striking, expressive beer (with) poise and balance.” 

Highly recommended: t. Brugs Beertje, Bruges

Medieval Abbeys have historically made beer and there are still six Trappist breweries with all profits benefitting the community.  Beer-themed tourism is a big business with visitors travelling by train, tram or bike to breweries, bars and Festivals galore.

In the Netherlands, Heineken, is the market leader for industrial lager, as well as around new 700 companies striving to create a distinctive Dutch style beer – names to check out: Walhalla and Oersoep. 

France is slowly developing a beer scene with small craft breweries experimenting with spelt and buckwheat. This 1920s advert tried to encourage French wine lovers to drink Bieres Francaises.

Poster to promote French Beer, (1928)

Copenhagen, Denmark – Jacobsen and Hansen founded the Carlsberg Brewery in 1847, stating that “Whoever possesses the complete understanding of chemistry will be Europe’s leading brewer in the next generation.”  Modern breweries are “outrageously experimental” such as Warpigs and Baghaven.

Germany is a leading grower of hops and the majority of its beer is sold to the home market,  e.g. Bavarian blond. Pils, Black and Bock beers. Festivals in September and October.

Antique German Beer Steins

If you have visited Prague, it may be no surprise to know that the Czechs are “the most dedicated beer drinkers”. Bohemia offers welcoming brewpubs, hotels and restaurants – Zkikov brewery is located within a lakeside, medieval Castle.

Zkikov Castle and Brewery, Bohemia

A century after Prohibition, the USA has gradually developed its beer industry with 8,000 breweries in 50 states. West Coast is famous for “boldly hoppy, citrusy India Pale Ale.”  Washington is on the map for its lively beer scene, new breweries, DC Brau and Red Bear, exciting bar diners and taverns, and in Chicago you can follow the beer trail to taprooms on a Train Crawl. The Great American Beer Festival founded in Denver represents the largest collection of U.S. breweries and beers for a public tasting event as well as a competition, to celebrate the American craft brewing industry. Attracting around 800 breweries and 60,000 visitors, this year’s Festival runs from 7 – 9 October, 2021.

The well established, annual three day event in Denver, Colorado

The laid-back Caribbean islands need refreshing cold beers to sip in the sun: Jamaica, Red Stripe, Bahamas, Pirate Republic, Trinidad and Tobago,Tommy’s Brewing, (perfect with a Bake & Shark wrap).  

In Canada, Belgian-styled ales are a tradition of French-speaking Quebec and Montreal, with influential breweries, Le Cheval Blanc and Unibroue – strong, dark beers and the award winning La Fin du Monde. Mexico best known for Corona and Cerveza has 1,000 small, independent breweries, with an imaginative use of Tequila barrels and blue Agave hearts as in ingredient in Fiesta Latina.

Brazil is a huge beer drinking nation and Brewing schools have created enthusiastic graduates with technical knowledge to develop modern craft breweries. Amazonian wood barrels and using Tropical fruits has created such beers as a tart, fresh tasting Catharina Sour.   Ecuador can boast the first brewery in the Americas, at the Convent of San Francisco, Quito founded 1566 and operating for four centuries. Today, there is a boom in beer making such as Cerveza Santa Rosa producing quality Sours and the 8%  ABV Love Bird.

Cerveza Santa Rosa, Ecuador

Mention Australia and you think of Fosters and Castlemaine XXXX. Little Creatures began the trend for Indie Beer which has expanded substantially with Stone & Wood launched in 2008 at Byron Bay. Pacific Ale is a flyaway success, “An iconic brew, influential, internationally respected and enjoyable.”

Sail across the Pacific to Rarotonga, where you can sample Cook Islands lager, (Rarotonga brewery), or a pilsner, pale ale and an IPA from Matutu brewing.

The first Japanese-owned Beer Brewery was founded by Syozaburo Shibutani in 1872, in Osaka. For 2,000 years Sake, known as rice wine, has actually been brewed using the same method as beer, but it’s not so popular with the Millennials. Tokyo is now a city of beer bars serving Pilsners, Grape ale, & Hitachino Nest Classic Ale using Sake barrels.

China keeps most of its beer for the locals with just Tsingtao as a key export. Snow, the world’s best selling beer almost unknown globally.   San Miguel is the famous brand of the Philippines, with a few new companies, such as Turning Wheels Brewpub, Cebu City.

As an import during the British Raj, India Pale Ale was never produced there, and since 1947 there has been  little demand for beer or alcohol with high taxation and strict licencing laws. Craft breweries to check out: Toit, Bangalore, Arbor, Goa and Doolally, Pune.

Sri Lanka is famed for Tea, but a Belgian, Auguste de Bavay, began brewing here in 1881, later developed as the Ceylon Brewing in 1911; today the company name is Lion, renowned for its Lager and Stout, as part of a 125 year tradition. 

Lion beer on Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka

The scenic Winelands and Dutch industrial brewers take centre stage in South Africa with small progress for small scale beer makers – Mountain Brewing, Western Cape produces a distinctive range and also Banana Jam, Cape Town.   Great story behind Red Island brewing in Madagascar, where a group of American, British and Australian Ex-pats are experimenting with recipes using the island’s home grown vanilla.   

Red Island brewery, Madagascar

Just a dot in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has two breweries, Flying Dodo with its own Lambic café-bar-shop, in Port Louis.  Wine merchant, E.C. Oxenham is also developing its Thirsty Fox beers.

And so time to drink.! The last chapter is entitled Enjoying Beer, with advice on buying, reading labels, understanding ABV, serving and glassware from British pints, to German flutes and stemmed “wine” glasses.

A fascinating section is on Food Pairing –  Pub food, sharing platters as well as an extensive Affinity Chart. Check the most suitable ales and beers to complement Oysters, Salmon, Cheese, Beef, Pizza and Burgers etc. This colourful, informative and entertaining Atlas will certainly entice you to plan a travel trip to breweries and bars and Beer Festivals worldwide.

Cheers, Salute, À votre santé, Proost, Na zdravi, Cin cin, Kanpai …

The World Atlas of Beer, by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont (3rd Edition, 2020)

Mitchell Beazley (Octupus Books) ISBN-13 : 978-1784726270

Cafe Beermoth, the place to sip beer in Manchester, England

Misty Isle Gin – pure and refreshing like a splash of sea spray on the Isle of Skye.

It’s a fact – over 70% of the gin consumed in the UK is produced in Scotland, where distillers have perfected the art and craft of the spirit.  The Scottish islands in particular are renowned for fine, artisan gins – Orkney, Shetland, Harris, North Uist, Barra, Tiree, Colonsay, Jura, Islay, Mull and the Isle of Skye.

The majestic landscape of the Isle of Skye

Skye is a magical, mystical place, enticing visitors from across the planet to embrace its ancient cultural heritage, outdoor sporting adventures and wild scenic beauty.  

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul, he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun
.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Thomas and Alistair Wilson are local lads with a life-long passion for the “Misty Isle” which sparked the idea to launch the first Gin distillery on the island and capture a spiritual essence of the place in a bottle.

Alistair has a professional background in the hospitality industry, hotels, bars and restaurants around Scotland while Thomas has served in the Parachute Regiment and is a retained fireman.  Ready for an exciting new challenge, they decided to join forces to create their own speciality Skye gin, selecting the key botanicals, foraging juniper berries and experimenting with recipes. Another key ingredient is sourced near the distillery at Portree – the crystal clear, spring water from the Storr Lochs. 

The Wilson Brothers foraging for island botanicals

Misty Isle Gin was launched in early February 2017, with exceptional success: Gold Medal and Distilled Gin of the Year, Scottish Gin Awards, 2018, Silver, World Gin Awards and Gold, London Spirits Competition.

“Provenance is everything – that abiding sense of belonging and community. Over time, we have perfected our recipe; a marriage of waters from the Storr Lochs and the right balance of the finest botanicals. It has taken patience and judgement, but some things cannot be rushed”. Thomas and Alistair Wilson

This the first gin to be produced on the Isle of Skye and a completely home-grown product, created, distilled and bottled in Portree. The name Gin itself is derived from the Dutch jenever which means Juniper, providing the essential earthy, pine notes. 

Juniper berries – hand-foraged from various wild locations around Skye, slowly distilled in traditional gas-fired copper pot stills for approximately 8 hours, then vapour infused with the other ten botanicals:

Coriander seeds – the second most used botanical after juniper. Once distilled it has a complex flavour once distilled, all at once citrusy, nutty and a little spicy.

Grains of Paradise – an exotic, aromatic spice from West Africa bring a complex mix of cardamom, coriander, ginger with a hint of citrus. These tiny seeds have medicinal qualities and are an Aphrodisiac.

Orris root –  the root of the Iris flower, giving a floral, parma violet aroma with sweet and woody flavours. Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans used Orris in perfumery – Channel No. 5 is thought to contain a high proportion of Orris Root.

Liquorice root – a sweet, woody botanical that has been used as a sugar alternative for centuries.

Black cubebs – an Indonesian plant; the fruits are gathered before they ripen and left to dry. similar in appearance and taste to black pepper, Cubeb berries are often paired with juniper in gin giving a soft floral, lavender aroma combined with a cracked pepper taste.

Lemon peel – the peel is dried before infusion and distillation and contributes a fresh, tart, crisp, citrus notes.

Cassia bark –  similar to cinnamon with a sweeter taste and warming, earthy spiciness.

There is also one other top secret ingredient from the Isle of Skye.!

Misty Isle Gin is described by its creators as “ Juniper heavy but not too floral with earthy undertones, a hint of spice, with subtle flavours of citrus and a refreshing aftertaste.” The suggested serve is with a Scottish or premium tonic water, garnished with a twist of fresh orange peel.

Before even tasting the Misty Isle gin, first admire the stunning design of the glass bottle, its thick curved, craggy, jagged shape – so comfortable to hold –  appears to have been carved out of an ice-covered mountain.

Spectacular viewpoint for the Old Man of Storr

This represents the Old Man of Storr and the majestic mountain range of the Cuillins is artistically illustrated on the label. The copper foil reflects the gin stills and each bottle of Misty Isle is unique with its own different twisted top.

The neat gin taste test

Aroma:  A mellow floral and rich earthy scent   

Palate:  A spicy kick balanced by sweet citrus notes with a delicate salty tang.

Finish:  Beautifully, intensely smooth with lingering, woodland pine aftertaste.

The G&T taste test

Pour 50 ml of Misty Isle and a good splash of Walter Gregor Scottish gin, (hand crafted on Manse Farm, Aberdeenshire), over a large block of ice and add a twist of orange peel.  This pure, clear Gin from Skye is perfectly complemented by the lightly sparkling Scottish Tonic created from natural citrus flavours, quinine and Highland spring water.  Be sure not to drown the gin with tonic, to allow the peppery spice and rich juniper flavour to shine, while the orange draws out the bittersweet citrus.   

This ice cold G&T is so refreshing – which can be poetically described as akin to a bracing mountain trek or beach walk in the salty air.!   

Misty Isle Gin is clearly of superlative quality based on the fact that it is imbued with the provenance of local Juniper berries and pure Scottish loch water. One slow, smooth sip conjures up the wild, natural landscape of Skye from glacier mountain to woodland and seashore.

“Holidayed many times on Skye and wanted something to remind me of the island. Served with Fevertree Mediterranean tonic & orange and loved it – so refreshing!”  (on line review)

The dramatic panorama overlooking Loch Coruisk, Isle of Skye

As a lover of a dry Gin Martini, the next test was this classic cocktail: 50 ml Misty Isle with 15 ml Vermouth, stirred gently over a large ice cube, strain into a glass and garnish with an olive or two.

Vermouth is a fortified wine with a blend of spices, herbs, roots and fruit, such as cinnamon, citrus peel, cardamom, chamomile, coriander, juniper and ginger, so the ideal partner for Misty Isle gin. 

Again it’s the smooth texture which is predominant with the subtle, soft complexity of floral, herbal and spicy flavours – overall it is cool, crisp and delicately dry, with the olive enhancing the salinity.  Alternatively, the zest of lemon would draw out the citrus tang.

Misty Isle Gin for the perfect classic, dry Martini

In just three years, the Wilson brothers have planned, launched and developed the Isle of Skye Distillers into a very successful, independent family business.  They have created a few different gins such as the new Misty Isle Old Tom Pink Gin with raspberries and blackcurrants grown in the distillery garden.  

Tommy’s Gin was crafted in memory of their late father, Tommy Wilson, who served in the Suez invasion with the British Army.  Also seasonal Christmas and Halloween gins and Misty Isle vodka.

In Portree, you can visit the Distillery Shop and book a session at the Gin School to experience hands-on tuition to distil your own bottle on a miniature copper still, and learn all about Misty Isle spirits.

The attractive, illustrated website gives an inspiring travel guide to Skye which will entice you to visit, with all information on Misty Isle products, Where to Buy and an online Shop.

https://www.isleofskyedistillers.com

Misty Isle Gin, hand crafted, distilled and bottled on Skye

Tom Savano hand-crafted Cocktails – a story of innovation, creativity and passion: just taste one and see!

For a new business idea, product and brand to succeed, you need to be an entrepreneur with both a financial mind and imaginative vision.  The original germ of the idea for a Cocktail company, began ten years ago when James Kerslake was on holiday in Ibiza, sipping a Mojito at the Café Mambo and watching the sunset.

Cocktail Hour at sunset, Cafe Mambo, Ibiza

Back in London, while working in Investment banking by day, he would shake up cocktails at home, as well as social drinking ideas such as BarPanda, an app to order drinks in a bar and split the bill with friends.  The world of hospitality, food and drink had always been an interest, but only as a side line to his full time career.  In 2007, aged 27, James launched a specialist food bar in London aimed at hungry, health-conscious office workers – artisan wraps, made-to-order salads, sushi, burritos and freshly made smoothies, a pioneering, new venture at the time. 

From making batches of Mojitos for parties and picnics with friends, this led to being asked to supply his speciality cocktails for a friend’s wedding and the idea for a professional Drinks business was sparked. A lightbulb moment indeed. 

James Kerslake admits he has always been a bit of a dreamer, a romantic idealist; the brand name, Tom Savano is his alter ego, fictional character who is in search of exciting, new experiences and “spiritual,” journeys of discovery.

Tom Savano reflects perfect moments with a cocktail in hand

Escape to your favourite travel destinations with Tom’s signature cocktail collection, perfected using artisan spirits from small craft distilleries.

Tom Savano Cocktails are ready mixed and bottled at bar strength and quality, using only artisan spirits from the best, local, small batch distilleries.  “When it comes to independent spirit makers, it is character, story and heritage, that are important in defining flavour.”  James Kerslake

The artistic labels represent a cultural sense of place as reflected through Tom’s sunglasses to illustrate the cocktail’s origin from Italy to New York and Mexico.

Having finely crafted the first four Tom Savano signature cocktails, Margarita, Negroni, Lychee Martini and Old Fashioned, they were entered for the global Speciality Spirits Masters Awards in August 2019. 

Three months later, James was informed that his brand new products had won no fewer than three gold medals and one silver medal. An incredible, auspicious start to his fledgling business which was officially launched in December 2019.  After nine years in the creation, the Award-winning Tom Savano handcrafted Cocktail company was ready to splash.  

Single Estate Reposado Margarita – Gold Award,  Speciality Spirits Masters, 2019

The attractive, squat bottle is for 2 servings; through the lens of the sunglasses, an idyllic image of a swimming pool, palm trees and loungers, just the place to relax with this cocktail.

The Jalisco Estate Reposado Tequila is blended with fresh Agave, Mexican herbs and lime.  This Ocho Tequila is made in the traditional way from hand harvested Blue Agave plants, and the piña, the succulent core, is roasted in brick ovens and crushed between stone wheels. The recipe is based on a Tommy’s Margarita, created in 1990 in San Francisco by Julio Bermejo at  Tommy’s, his parents’ restaurant.  Instead of Triple Sec or Cointreau, Julio added a spoonful of Agave nectar for a natural, honeyed flavour.

I kept the bottle in the fridge for a day or two so that it was well chilled. This is an authentic, ready made cocktail so it should not be diluted by adding ice.!

My first sip of the Tom Savano handcrafted Margarita was lip smackingly good. Wow is the word.! The sharp, tart citrus tang just sings aloud, and then savour the earthy, smoky aftertaste which is smoothly mellow with an exquisite, complex depth of flavour.  As suggested on the bottle, do dip the rim of your glass with salt – ideally Pink Himalayan – to create the perfect serve.  This is Mexican sunshine in a glass with a whiff of salt sea air.

English Garden Lychee Martini – Gold award, Speciality Spirts Masters, 2019

The image on this bottle reflected through Tom’s sunglasses, is an avenue of pink blossoming trees with oriental, painterly style with a backdrop of skyscrapers.

The Lychee Martini was invented in the 1990s in Clay, a late night Korean restaurant in New York. The story goes Han-jae Park used to make it for local bartenders after they finished work. Also known as “Lycheetini,” based on a lychee liqueur or syrup, is a beautiful, delicate, and unusual cocktail. Lychees have the sweet taste of grape, strawberry and melon, but with a slightly sour finish.

The Tom Savano Lychee Martini includes British elderflower vodka with a layering of lychee and a blend of vermouths.  The floral aroma is all about encapsulating an English Garden in Springtime.  The artisan brand of spirit is Jelly’s English Elderflower vodka made in Desborough, Northamptonshire featuring coriander, liquorice, cardamom, orris root, lemon and handpicked local elderflower.

The cocktail has a fruity, floral perfumed aroma and softly textured flavour with the Vermouth cutting through the sweetness to give the kick of a dry Martini. 

Devon Coastal Negroni – Silver award, Speciality Spirits Masters, 2019

Count Negroni famously invented his eponymous cocktail in Florence in 1919 and having celebrated its centenary last year, this remains a glamorously, fashionable, ruby red aperitivo.

‘Devon Coastal’ Negroni’ features Salcombe gin, a small batch craft gin from Devon, inspired by seafaring voyages from centuries past, with classic Italian vermouth, Amaro and a hint of orange.  

It is poetically described as “More mellow than a traditional Negroni with just the right amount of bitterness and a subtle hint of sweet orange. One sip and you’ll be transported to an overgrown villa in Florence, nibbling Cicchetti as the late afternoon lingers on.”

Kentucky Winter Old Fashioned – Gold award, Speciality Sprits Masters, 2019

Colonel James E. Pepper, a Kentucky distiller of bourbon and the bar tender of the Pendennis Club, Louisville, jointly created this cocktail around 1900.  It is immortalised in song, “Make it Another Old Fashioned, Please” by Cole Porter.

This Tom Savano recipe combines a smooth Kentucky bourbon and a spicy Rye, with dark sugar, a house blend of Bitters and a hint of orange peel.

“Carrying the heritage of more than a century of American whisky making, this timeless drink will take you to a porch in Kentucky at golden hour, watching the birds nest for the evening.”

The idea behind Tom Savano Cocktails is genius, based on an inspired recipe for success.  James Kerslake had all the ingredients to hand: financial knowledge, creative imagination, mixology skills and artistic branding with a colourful garnish of passion and pizzazz.

Tom Savano Cocktails celebrated its first anniversary in December 2020 and what a year it has been.  In March when the Covid-19 pandemic Lockdown began in the UK, James focussed on home delivery – two months of stock sold out in just eight days.  Production was increased to meet exceptional demand with continuing high sales through the Autumn and Winter, as well as an increase in gifts for the Festive Season.

Two new signature cocktails joined the collection this year, the Caribbean Dawn Mai Tai in the summer and the Smoky Maple Ragtime Manhattan has just been launched in time to toast Tom’s first birthday.

Tom Savano has now partnered with London’s Cinnamon Club and received more awards including the prestigious ‘Best New Product of the Year 2020’ at the Spirits Business Global Masters 2020.

 Join the fan base!

These cocktails are incredible! It’s like being in the best cocktail bar in London but in your home!

Absolutely delicious cocktails, gorgeous packaging and speedy delivery. We have already placed another order…

To find out more about Tom Savano Handcrafted Cocktails, where to buy, how to order and ideas for gifts. There’s a choice of six cocktails in two sizes of bottles for two or five servings.

https://tomsavano.com/shop/

Tom Savano cocktails – the perfect gift for you, friends and family

Tom’s Club is a place for cocktail lovers with a passion for travel. Sign up as a member for discounts on your cocktail delivery orders and receive invites to Tom’s Club events.

The Alcoholic Boozy Christmas Hamper

Christmas Hampers 2020

Tom Savano has teamed up with a few independent food and drink producers to create hampers in aid of The Trussell Trust charity.  There are five different hampers: a vegan/gluten-free variety, a healthy option, a chocolate hamper, an alcoholic version and a classic family hamper, with a fine selection of artisan food and drink, with all profits going to charity, to feed families in financial difficulty, who are in need this Christmas.

https://www.tomsavano.com/savexmas

Classic Christmas Hamper

Ben Lomond Scottish Gin – the distilled essence of wild berries, woodland pine and fresh mountain air

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond.”

Loch Lomond at the heart of the Trossachs National Park, linking the Lowlands and highlands, is the perfect destination for a relaxing escape and sporting adventure.  With its thirty, tiny islands and surrounded by lush forests, the largest expanse of fresh water in Britain is dominated by the high peak of Ben Lomond.

The magestic natural beauty of Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond and Trossachs National Park

The former Loch Lomond Distillery dates back to 1814 located near Tarbet, with a new Distillery founded in 1964 at the southern end of the loch. Today, the Loch Lomond Group produces Single Malt whisky, Single Grain Whisky and Deluxe Blends, receiving seven gold medals at the International Spirits Challenge 2020.

The distillery launched its Ben Lomond Scottish Gin in 2019, inspired by the scenic beauty of the eponymous mountain, fruit, flora and trees of the National Park. The unspoilt natural world of land and loch has inspired both the recipe and attractive, artistic design.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

On the steep, steep side o’ Ben Lomond,
Where in soft purple hue, the highland hills we view,
And the moon coming out in the gloaming.”

The chunky, tall bottle illustrates the mighty Ben, the lilac-purple glass reflecting both the glistening dark water of the loch and flowering heather on the hills,  while the wooden stopper is a symbol of the surrounding woodland.  Most imaginative indeed.

The bottles of this small batch, premium gin are filled, labelled and sealed by hand. With a 43% ABV, Ben Lomond is a contemporary London Dry Gin.  This refers not to the city, but a specific style and process dating back to the 18th century; all the flavours must be natural, plant based botanicals, no synthetic ingredients, with nothing added after distillation except water to produce a clear, unsweetened spirit, not less than 37.5% ABV.

The finely crafted recipe is a blend of berries, flowers, herbs, spices and essential botanicals. The Rowan tree is found higher in the mountains than any of Scotland’s other native trees, blossoming with white flowers in summer, and in Autumn a burst of bright red berries.

The Rowanberries are foraged around the Loch Lomond area, including from wild trees beside the distillery. 

Engrained in Celtic mythology, the Rowan tree, associated with magic and enchantment, was widely planted outside houses and churches as a protection against witches – cutting down a rowan was considered taboo in Scotland.  It was known as the Traveller’s Tree as boats made from Rowan wood provided a safeguard from storms. The red berries, rich in Vitamin C, was also used to treat scurvy, and traditionally made into jams, jellies, vinegar, wines and spirits.

Oh, Rowan Tree

“How fair wert thou in simmer time, wi’ all thy clusters white.
Now rich and gay thy autumn dress, wi’ berries red and bright..”

Another key ingredient are juicy blackcurrants which are also hand-picked just north of the distillery. The rowan berries and blackcurrants are added straight into the Still during the distillation process, both integral to the natural fruit flavours.     

The selection of eleven botanicals also includes Juniper to provide essential earthy notes, Coriander seed, a hint of lemony spice, Orange peel for citrus freshness, Rose petals and Orris root give a floral fragrance, Angelica Root, a dry hop-like character, Cassia and Liquorice add a touch of sweetness, and Szechuan pepper for warming spice.

The botanicals distilled in Ben Lomond Gin

So first a sip of the neat Ben Lomond Scottish Gin to appreciate the aroma and pure flavour. It’s crystal clear with a pungent, woodland scent on the nose which is followed through with floral and fresh pine notes on the tastebuds.

Next, the G&T Test.  I added a few cubes of ice to 25 ml measure of gin, a good splash of Fever Tree Tonic Water (Refreshingly Light) and a slice of lime. The blend of bittersweet berries comes to the fore, with a citrus zing and a subtle lingering flavour of fruit and earthy spice.  The texture is intensely smooth, clean and so fresh tasting.  

The Perfect Serve, (by the master distillers of Ben Lomond Gin)

Fill a high ball glass with cubed ice; 25 ml or 50 ml Ben Lomond Gin, top up with Fever Tree Tonic; add a garnish of blackberries and slice of lime. Squeeze in a wedge of lime juice, softly stir three times to mix together and serve. 

The Perfect Serve – Ben Lomond Scottish Gin and Tonic

Blackcurrants have long been associated with quality alcoholic drinks, most famously the liqueur, Crème de Cassis de Dijon. (Cassis is French for Blackcurrant). The Kir aperirif was created and named by the deputy mayor of Dijon, Canon Félix Kir – Crème de Cassis with white wine and Kir Royale is the Cassis liqueur with Champagne.

The distillery has therefore wisely invented a Scottish Kir-style cocktail.

The High Road  

Fill a highball glass with cubed ice, add 40ml Ben Lomond Gin, 20ml lemon juice 15ml Cassis, top up with Fever Tree Tonic, and garnish with a wedge of fresh lemon.

O ye`ll tak` the high road,
And I’ll tak` the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye.
But me and my true love will never meet again,
By the bonnie, bonnie banks o` Loch Lomond.”

As well as the berries as a key ingredient, the addition of orange brings a refreshing tang to the Gin so what could be more appropriate than mixing up a classic Negroni. It is also most apt as the Ben Lomond Scottish Gin was launched a century after Count Negroni invented this Italian aperitivo in Florence.

Negroni

25 ml Ben Lomond Scottish Gin, 25 ml Sweet  Rosso Vermouth, 25 ml Campari

Pour all ingredients into a Rocks glass with a large ice cube or sphere (this melts more slowly).  Stir gently for a minute or two – this is not a cocktail to be shaken. Express the zest of a wedge of orange and garnish with a twist of orange peel for a beautiful crimson-red winter warmer.  

A classic Negroni with a Scottish twist and the zest of orange

The dry, bitter flavour of the Campari is softened by the Sweet vermouth, perfectly complementing the berry- rich Gin and the sharp citrus taste of the orange sings through.

A classic Gin Martini  (50 ml Gin and 15 ml Dry Vermouth, with twist of lemon or an olive) is also a fine partnership with this Scottish Gin.  Experiment with your own favourite gin cocktails.

Following the success of the London Dry Gin, in July 2020, Loch Lomond Distillery launched two flavoured gins, infused with wild fruit essences, Ben Lomond Raspberry & Elderflower and Blackberry & Gooseberry.

At the Scottish Gin Awards 2020, Ben Lomond Scottish Gin was given the status of Highly Commended for London Dry Gin. And just announced (December 2020), Ben Lomond Gin has been awarded three medals from the Spirit Business Gin Masters – Gold for Raspberry & Elderflower infused gin and Silver for both the London Dry style gin and Blackberry & Gooseberry infused gin.

To protect the Scottish rural countryside which inspired Ben Lomond Gin is in a partnership with the John Muir Trust. Born in Dunbar in 1838, John Muir became a renowned explorer, botanist, geologist and mountaineer, pioneering the Conservation movement worldwide.  In the USA, he was the father of National Parks to protect forests, woodlands and wilderness and as early as 1892, his motto was, ‘Explore, enjoy and protect the planet’.

Nature lovers, walkers, hikers, bikers, writers, poets and artists have flocked to Loch Lomond for centuries to experience the tranquil peace of this timeless, natural wilderness. 

Beautifully packaged, with its silky smooth, aromatic flavour, Ben Lomond Scottish Gin has been artistically “painted” – a distillation of the colours, flora and fresh mountain air, like a watercolour landscape in a bottle.

The tagline for Ben Lomond Scottish Gin is “Be Inspired”

To find out more about Ben Lomond Gins and buy on line, see the website:

https://www.benlomondgin.com

The Holyrood Distillery 2021 Heritage Whisky Cask Auction – recreating a spiritual taste of history …in a dram.

Whisky lovers, collectors and connoisseurs can be part of a unique event when Holyrood Distillery offers a limited edition of thirty casks of specially crafted single malt whiskies at auction. The casks are the innovative recreation of heritage whiskies based on those formerly produced by Edinburgh’s historic distilleries.

In partnership with Whisky Hammer, the Aberdeenshire specialist whisky auctioneers, these unique whisky casks will be sold at an online auction with bidding open from 4th to 13th December, 2020.

Whisky Hammer

Holyrood Distillery was launched in Edinburgh in 2019 to resurrect the lost tradition of whisky making in the Capital after almost a hundred years; the majority of the distilleries closed in the 19th century with the last two, Dean and Glen Sciennes closing in 1922 and 1925.

Using recipes dating back a hundred years, the Distillery has sourced the ancient ingredients, old style brewer’s yeast and authentic barley varieties: Chevallier was used in the 19th century by Bonnington, Croftanrigh and Yardhead distilleries; Plumage Archer was used from the early 20th century by Dean and Glen Sciennes. Only sherry casks will be usedfifteen American oak, Oloroso Sherry Hogsheads and fifteen Spanish oak, Pedro Ximenez Sherry Hogsheads – in the tradition of these former Edinburgh distilleries.

 “This is a rare opportunity to own a single malt whisky which is based on the techniques and ingredients used by Edinburgh’s distilling forefathers. Purchasing one of these rare casks is an invitation to own a piece of history and tread in the footsteps of the people who created the city’s whisky industry.” David RobertsonCo-founder of Holyrood Distillery.

David Robertson, co-founder of Holyrood Distillery

The re-creation of an historic whisky has been a successful branding concept for Whyte & Mackay with their iconic Shackleton whisky in tribute to the great Antarctic explorer. Three crates of Mackinlay’s whisky were discovered in 2007 at the Expedition base camp for the officers and crew of the Endurance ship, stranded in the ice in 1915.  Master blender Richard Paterson worked with the whisky salvage team to profile the original Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt, Shackleton’s favourite, to create a contemporary, blended malt.

Likewise, the production of these classic Edinburgh whiskies is an inspirational venture for Holyrood Distillery to preserve a taste of the city’s “spiritual” heritage.

Whisky Hammer, Ellon, Aberdeenshire

The Scottish, family business, Whisky Hammer, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, was established in 2015 by brothers, Daniel and Craig Milne, to specialise in rare and hard-to-find bottles for whisky connoisseurs worldwide: The motivation behind the company was from our passion for whisky. We were brought up in Macduff, on the edge of the Speyside region, where some may argue, the best whisky in the world is produced.”

Now one of the most renowned, global, online whisky platforms, at their October auction, a bottle of Macallan 78 year old (Red Collection), sold for £922, 500. Also under the hammer, was a rare Bowmore Hogshead cask, 1987, snapped up for £64.700, and also a Tullibardane, Oloroso cask, 2018, for £1, 550.

Daniel and Craig Milne, of Whisky Hammer

 “We’re honoured to partner with Holyrood Distillery to offer 30 unique casks exclusively on Whisky Hammer. Having seen increasing interest and demand for old, vintage whisky and cask purchases, this is a golden opportunity to make history and fully participate in crafting a deeply personal and rare spirit, …. an offer not to be missed by our members, who love interesting and unusual whiskies.” Daniel Milne, Managing Director of Whisky Hammer.

Bidding is expected to start at £3,000 for each numbered, sherry hogshead allowing bidders to select the barley variety, cask type and number. The casks will be filled with the fledgling spirit in early 2021 and put to rest in the warehouse to become unique single malts.  

Winning bidders will be invited to see their spirit being created and cask filled in the Warehouse and then follow each stage of the maturing process of their own whisky.  The hammer price paid will include storage of the cask for up to ten years, annual sampling and insurance.

Holyrood Distillery was founded by a Canadian couple, Rob and Kelly Carpenter and Scottish whisky expert, David Robertson. Rob launched the Canadian branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society with wife Kelly, while David has 25 years’ experience in the industry with The Macallan and The Dalmore, as well as co-founding Rare Whisky 101. 

Rob Carpenter and David Robertson, owners of Holyrood Distllery

Located on St. Leonard’s Lane with views over Holyrood Park, the Distillery is based at a B-listed, 1835 era building, formerly part of the Edinburgh & Dalkeith Railway.  As well as single malt whisky they distil gins and liqueurs and there is a 5-star visitor centre offering an interactive, educational experience.

Holyrood Distllery on the site of a former Railway Company

Owning a maturing cask is a dram lover’s dream, the ultimate indulgence, but also be a sound investment for the future. In eight, ten, twelve + years’ time, you will be able to bottle this speciality whisky for your own unique collection.

Whisky Hammer will host the online auction for these thirty heritage whisky casks which kicks off at 7pm (GMT) on Friday 4th and open until Sunday 13th December, 2020.   

To register to bid on the Holyrood 2021 Heritage Whisky Cask auction, visit: www.whiskyhammer.com   

For more information on the Holyrood Distillery and shop on line: https://www.holyrooddistillery.co.uk/

Learn all about whisky on the Holyrood Distillery Tour

HelloFresh – teach yourself to be a Masterchef and enjoy quick and easy gourmet dishes at home

Fact: HelloFresh is the most popular meal kit company in the world. Founded in Berlin in November 2011, it has spread its good food message across the globe and is now big business across the UK, Europe, USA and Australia.

2020 will be remembered for the global pandemic and Lockdown restrictions. But on the positive side, social isolation has unwittingly pushed us to be culinary creative at home. With more time on our hands, staying safe and working from home, we have (almost) become domestic gods and goddesses.  First came the craze for baking bread and cakes. In April 2020, the recipe for Banana Bread saw a 595% increase in Google search compared to April 2019 in the UK. 

As well as baking, more than a fifth of us were cooking every meal from scratch according to research and the interest in making nutritious meals has continued to increase.  No longer rushed for time, the Take Away was not such a tempting treat.  With many bars and bistros closed or with limited opening hours, we are all yearn for restaurant-quality comfort food.  Even if we can’t cook.

The easy answer is HelloFresh which will deliver complete, ready-to-make, hearty, healthy dishes to your home.  Convenient and inspirational, this is a food subscription service, providing a box of fresh ingredients with recipes straight to your kitchen.

The website is easy to navigate with a few clicks of the mouse, for information on selecting the recipes, number of people and dishes required each week.  For instance, you can choose meat, fish and/or vegetarian recipes catering for 2, 3 or 4 people, with the option of three, four or five dishes per week. For solo diners, simply halve the ingredients of the recipe (and enjoy the rest another day, or invent a different dish); Family food boxes too with child-friendly dishes and older kids will enjoy the cookery challenge.

‘The proof is in the pudding’ as they say, so I ordered three Vegetarian dishes for two people.  A large cardboard box arrived promptly at 5pm on a Saturday, well packaged with a bag of ice to keep ingredients fresh and cold.  The meal kits can be kept in the fridge for around a week.

Inside the box were three large brown paper cartons, one for each dish. All the ingredients for two diners were measured out accordingly as detailed on colourful, easy to follow Recipe cards with images. Preparation timings and calorie count are also given to plan a quick, healthy meal after a busy day at work. 

Mexican Beanie Tortillas – all the ingredients

I began with the Mexican Beanie Tortillas placing all the fresh vegetables, spices, herbs and cardboard packets on the worktop.  I felt like a TV chef ready to showcase a special dish to viewers!.  This recipe should take 30 minutes to prep and cook.

Mexican bean dish

The instructions are so clear, step by step, chopping the yellow pepper, courgette and shallot, adding the garlic, spices, mixed beans and chopped tomatoes, simmering slowly. And finally mashing the avocado with lime and coriander for the garnish.

Mexican beanie Tortilla wrap

I am no great cook but although I say it myself, I managed to create a “Restaurant quality” dish with creamy guacamole.   Truly scrumptuous!. 

Veggie Chilli with Sweet Potato Fries

This time I was sous chef, while my partner perfected a spicy gourmet feast. It was such fun reading out each stage of the preparation, chopping, roasting and then tossing up the salsa.  

Veggie Chilli with Sweet Potato Fries

The ingredients were seriously fresh and top quality with a generous portion size such as the large Sweet Potato for the wedges. (But just one tiny spring onion, not the salad bowl as illustrated on the recipe card).

Spinach and Chickpea Moroccan Stew.

HelloFresh food kit for Moroccan stew

This is a Rapid recipe taking just 20 minutes, again well laid out explaining every detail. e.g. how much hot water required to add to the Cous Cous for soft fluffy grains.

Moroccan stew with feta and cous cous,

By providing the exact amount of ingredients per person, there is no food waste.  While the paper and cardboard packaging is good, clear recycling symbols should be given on some individual food packets.

Great value too – by ordering 5 recipes a week for 2 people, the cost is just £4.20 per dish, with free daytime delivery. 

A wide collection of Recipe cards

HelloFresh recipes offer family favourites, gastro pub feasts, British classics and international cuisine – Italian, Greek, French, Asian, Thai, Japanese, African. So you can dine around the world at home every week with these recipes to tempt you – Chicken Laksa with noodles, Lentil and cauliflower curry, Red wine glazed Lamb Shank with honey carrots and roast potatoes, Truffle and mushroom Rigatoni, Cottage Pie …

Global cuisine delivered to your kitchen

Students can apply the HelloFresh discount code at the checkout to enjoy 30% off every 3rd recipe box. Also check out the Christmas Boxes – Festive food box orders for 4 – 10 people. Gift cards would make the ideal, caring present this year to ensure your family and friends experience a tasty home cooked dinner – without having to go shopping.  

Budding Masterchefs at home

Take a look at the appetising world of HelloFresh and start cooking.  Bon Appetit!

https://www.hellofresh.co.uk/

The trend towards eating more meals at home accelerated during the pandemic and we consider that (people) will continue to work from home and therefore eat more meals at home. We are very proud to have provided five million customers around the world with 162 million meals in the third quarter of 2020”. Dominik Richter, CEO and co-founder of HelloFresh

HelloFresh is the world’s leading meal-kit company and operates in the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, France and Denmark.

Martini & Rossi, cool and contemporary since 1863, the creators of Cocktail time.

One of the most iconic brands in the world, MARTINI® is Italy’s leading alcoholic beverage producer and offers a range of Aperitivo, Vermouth and sparkling wines of the highest quality. The creation of Vermouth, today the essential ingredient in many classic cocktails, is a deliciously, decadent and inspirational story. 

While fortified wines date back to Ancient Greece, the concept is thought to have been first finely crafted by the distiller, Antonio Benedetto Carpano in Turin in 1786, with his aromatised herbal wine, called Vermouth. Wormwood, also known as absinthe, is the quintessential botanical ingredient of this wine, originally considered a medicinal drink. Wormwood, Wermut in German, translates into vermouth. 

Fast forward to 1847, Pessione, near Turin where “Distilleria Nationale di Spirito di Vino” was founded by Carlo Angelli, Alessandro Martini, Teofilo Sola and Luigi Rossi, to produce wines and liqueurs.  As a wine maker and herbalist, Rossi developed his own Wormwood recipe and is the actual inventor of the Martini brand of vermouth.

Vintage Vermouth bottles

The base formula for any vermouth must be 75% wine – all brands of Martini are dry wines from the regions of Romagna, Apulia and Sicily – with an essence of over 50 herbs and spices and sugar. This Absinthe herb provides the strong, bitter flavour which stimulates the appetite. Vermouths became popular as an Aperitivo, (French – Aperitif), after the Latin verb ‘aperire’, to open, the perfect pre-lunch or dinner drink.

Aperitivo is not a drink, it’s a state of mind” Roberta Mariani, global ambassador for Martini & Rossi.

Their successful export business established branches in Spain, France, Argentina, Romania, Great Britain and the USA and after Sola’s death in 1879, the company was renamed “Martini & Rossi.”   The entrepreneurs were always modern innovators and market leaders.  “Martini Extra Dry”, was first presented at the New Year’s Eve celebration in 1900, and the “Martini Bianco” launched in 1910.  

The famous modern logo was created in 1925, featuring the black name tag “Martini”, superimposed over a red circle, and registered as a trademark in Italy in 1929. 

The Rosso sweet vermouth was first produced in 1863 and it’s said that customers ordering a gin and vermouth would simply ask for a “Gin and Martini.” In America, it evolved into a lady’s tipple, Gin & It, served around 5pm as a pick-me-up.

The classic Gin Martini may have originated at the Occidental Hotel, San Francisco in the 1860s. The bartender, Jerry Thomas was asked to make a memorable cocktail in return for a gold nugget and Jerry named it after the drinker’s home town, Martinez.  The Bar-Tenders Guide, 1887 included the Martinez cocktail – gin, sweet vermouth, bitters, lemon and maraschino liqueur.

More widely accepted is that an Italian bartender, Martini di Arma di Taggia created it at the Knickerbocker Hotel, New York City before World War I. His recipe: dry gin and dry vermouth, in equal parts, and orange bitters.

‘I had never tasted anything so cool and clean. They made me feel civilized.” Ernest Hemingway

‘The aspirational cocktail Gin Martini, beloved by the rich and famous, has become a timeless classic and the epitome of an Aperitivo.  While the precise recipe is a matter of taste, Martini & Rossi believe this to be the perfect ratio: 50 ml Bombay Sapphire Gin, 15 ml Martini Extra Dry, Lemon peel or olive to garnish.

Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes, pour in the well-chilled vermouth and the gin and stir for about 20 seconds.  Strain into a well-chilled Martini cocktail glass. Twist the peel to release the oils and then add as a garnish – or an olive.

Vermouth has long been integral to other key cocktails shaken up by intrepid bartenders between the 1880s and turn of the century, such as the Adonis, Affinity, Manhattan, Bronx and Americano.

The Americano holds the distinction of being the very first drink James Bond orders in Casino Royale – Campari, Sweet Vermouth and soda water – followed by many strong Gin Martinis on his adventures.

James Bond, a Cocktail aficionado

Cocktail time – L’Aperitivo hour – continues to embody the essence of Italian culture, la dolce vita, worldwide. Always a fashionably cool and contemporary brand since 1960s, Martini & Rossi has now launched a new Vermouth.

Martini Fiero is said to “modernise vermouth for a new generation.” Fiero means proud, intense and bold in Italian and is a blend of crisp white wines and botanicals including Murcia orange peel, artemisia absinthium and artemisia pontica.

The perfect serve is with plenty of ice, a mix of 50/50 Fiero and tonic

Martini Fiero Tonic

75 ml Martini Fiero, 75 ml Tonic water

Pour into a large balloon (red wine) glass with ice. Garnish with blood orange wheel.

Martini Fiero with tonic – refreshingly summery

Fiero is a beautifully balanced vermouth, with sharp, tart citrus notes followed by a honey sweetness, the bitterness mellowed by the sparkling tonic.  A refreshing, ice cold long drink which just needs the final ingredient – a warm dash of Italian summer sun!

Just over a century ago in a small bar in Florence, Count Camillio Negroni asked the bartender to strengthen his favourite cocktail, the Americano. The soda water was replaced by gin, the lemon garnish with orange, and the Negroni was born.  

So now for an important experiment – a blind tasting of two Negroni cocktails, one with the usual Sweet Vermouth Rosso and another with Martini Fiero.

The Rosso-based Negroni is richly bittersweet, more herbal, woody and drier on the palate. The Fiero version has an orange fruitiness, hint of cloves and a complex citrus and spicy aftertaste. 

These two Negronis simply vary in subtlety of flavour but with the Campari shining through, both hit the spot.

The Negroni revamped – Campari, Gin, Martini Fiero

Negroni with Martini Fiero

30 ml Campari, 30 ml Bombay Sapphire dry gin, 30 ml Martini Fiero

Add all ingredients into a stirring glass. Strain into a chilled Old Fashioned tumbler glass with a large chunk of ice. Garnish with an orange twist after expressing the zest.

This is certainly a cocktail to entice the taste buds – sip slowly before lunch or dinner. Saluti!

InFor your Eyes Only, while waiting in the Excelsior Bar in Rome, James Bond orders an aperitif, very wisely, the Negroni.

Martini & Rossi has been masters of the original Vermouth since 1863 and the historical home, Casa Martini, in the village of Pessione, near Turin Northern Italy is open to visitors.  Cocktail lovers will be able to see how the famous Italian vermouth and wines are made on an imaginative new tour.

Casa Martiini, Pessione, Italy

 “We are delighted to welcome guests to Casa MARTINI, the heart of the creation of our products for over 150 years. Discover the ingredients and production secrets of a history full of anecdote, entrepreneurial vision and innovation. The new tour consists of a totally immersive experience, an exciting journey to the origins of the Italian Aperitivo.  Marco Budano, General Manager of Casa MARTINI. 

Visitors will see the “Cabinet of Curiosities,” a display case featuring vintage artefacts, technical equipment and archival documents, a collection which links MARTINI to the world of wine.

The Red Circle is an exciting new installation – an illuminated pathway to give an immersive experience of the whole process from grapes and herbs for the finely selected ingredients.

The Red Circle

Take a trip back in time to the historic Still Area where the original copper stills to make vermouth and sparkling wines in the 19th century are preserved. The Mondo MARTINI Gallery and the Museum of the History of Wine is a comprehensive 360 degree tour to illustrate the company’s inspiring history.

Mondo Martini Gallery

 ‘The Heart of Martini’ today is the modern Still Room with its rows of towering tanks where visitors discover more about the finely crafted production process to perfect the delicious vermouths and wines.

The Heart of Martini in the modern Still Room

And finally, of course, it’s Cocktail time in the Tasting Room where you can try three Martini drinks, in the company of an expert guide. Then end the journey around Casa Martini in the Bar to sip a refreshing Martini Fiero & Tonic.

Martini Time in the Tasting Room and Bar

Find out more about visiting the home of MARTINI here:

www.visitcasamartini.com 

The Martini & Rossi company maintained full control of the brand until 1993 when it merged with Bacardí.  According to International Wines and Spirits Record, it accounts for more than 45 percent of the global vermouth market – Casa Martini sells more vermouth than any other brand in the world. 

www.martini.com

Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve – the famous Scotch Whisky is jazzed up with a taste of tropical sunshine, spirit and soul.

The Glenlivet Scotch Whisky Company is part of the Pernod Ricard global drinks portfolio, producing 21 million litres of spirit each year, and one of, if not the best selling single malt whisky in the United States. The Glenlivet 18 year old, for instance, has won numerous awards, winning five double golds at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.  

With the tagline, “Original by tradition” The Glenlivet has always been innovative to keep up to date with popular trends. Now their first Single Malt to be finished in rum barrels brings the sunny spirit of the Spice islands in the West Indies to the Scottish Highlands with the launch of The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve.

My biggest challenge at The Glenlivet has always been ..consistency of style.. It’s important for us not to become complacent, and to ensure The Glenlivet stands the test of time in quality and in depth of range.”  Alan Winchester, Master Distiller

“The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve is looking to extend that summer feeling, another example of us setting new standards, this time by turning the typical into the tropical.’  Marnie Corrigan, Brand Director, Whiskies, Pernod Ricard UK.

Described as offering a sweet, citrus, fruity and caramel taste, it can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in a selection of cocktails such as the signature Caribbean-inspired tipple, Tartan Tiki.

Before we sample this inspiring new Single Malt Whisky, let’s go back to the start of the journey almost two hundred years ago.

The Glenlivet Distillery, Speyside

A remote Scottish glen in Speyside, through which the River Livet flows, surrounded by hills and fresh water springs, was where George Smith learnt the craft of distilling spirits, creating a characteristic, delicately balanced, malt whisky.

In August 1822, King George IV arrived in Scotland for a state visit and asked to try this fine, yet illicit, whisky. Glenlivet soon became the byword for the best in whisky, and 1824 George Smith was granted the first legal licence to produce the official Glenlivet whisky.

George Smith, the innovative founder of The Glenlivet, 1824

Unfortunately, local whisky makers wanted to destroy this successful business with Royal and aristocratic patronage, such that Smith had to carry a pair of pistols to warn off smugglers to protect his treasure of precious golden spirit.

 By 1852, the novelist Charles Dickens was a rich man with an astute taste for good things in life; he wrote a letter to a friend recommending the “rare old Glenlivet” as a fine single malt whisky, which was above his great expectations!.

Glenlivet 12 year old with Dickens’ letter on the label

The distillery remained in family hands over the generations, taken over by the founder’s great nephew, Captain Bill Smith Grant in 1921, having to deal with severe loss of sales during the Prohibition era.  To woo American drinkers back after its repeal, he forged a partnership with the Pullman Train company which served miniature bottles of Glenlivet whisky – spreading the word and the taste across the United States.

Drinks served in the Buffet Car – America train travel in the early 20th century

1950 – The Glenlivet is now the most popular Scotch whisky sold in the USA and through increased global travel, it’s promoted worldwide.

2015 – Master Distiller, Alan Winchester, creates a speciality single malt, the Founders Reserve, to capture the original smooth, fruity taste. 

Scotch Whisky regional map

Whisky can be matured or finished in various types of casks and barrels –  wood, wine, port, sherry, madeira, beer and rum.  Rum casks, known as a Butt or Puncheon, is not a new idea, especially for Irish and US whiskey-makers.

2020 –  The launch of the new Caribbean Reserve, carefully crafted by finishing their fine Speyside single malt in oak puncheons to take on the flavour of Caribbean rum. 

What Glenlivet say:

Nose: Sweet notes of pear and red apple meet a fabulous tropical twist of ripe bananas in syrup. Palate: Rich caramel toffee notes, followed by mandarin orange, vanilla and melon, well balanced and smooth. Finish: Citrusy and delicate.

The first test for this pure amber liquid is the aroma of sweet, tropical fruit, and then a sip to detect a complex array of honey, orange, apricot, coconut, ginger and subtle spicy rum flavours. Expect a lingering, slow finish which is distinctly smoky – warming, bonfire wood smoke to my palate – with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, baked banana and overall, it’s so rich and smooth.  

Whisky nosers, as they called themselves, eschewed what they saw as the pretentiousness of wine vocabulary. While oenophiles resorted to recondite adjectives, whisky nosers spoke the language of everyday life, detecting hints of stale seaweed, or even diesel fuel.
Alexander McCall Smith,  The Sunday Philosophy Club

As well as sipped neat or on the rocks, this rich, rum soaked whisky is an ideal partner in various rum and whisky cocktails such as a Mai Tai, Rob Roy, Whisky Sour and an Old Fashioned.

The Mai Tai was created in 1944 by Victor Bergeron at his bar, Trader Vic’s, Emeryville, California, inspired by the ancient Tiki culture and paradise island life of French Polynesia.  When his cocktail of dark Jamaican rum, fresh lime juice, a dash of orange Curação, French Orgeat (almond) syrup, was given to a friend from Tahiti, the response was “Mai tai, roa ae” which means “Out of this world, the best.”

Trader Vic’s original Tiki Cockail, the Mai Tai

Mai Tai  – with Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve instead of Rum.

50 ml Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve, 25 ml Triple sec, (or Cointreau), 25 ml lime juice, 15 ml Orgeat or Orange syrup.

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, shake briskly then strain into a Highball glass with ice cubes. Garnish with lime and mint.

Caribbean Reserve Mai Tai cocktails

The delicious sharp, tart taste of orange and lime blends perfectly with the spicy, citrus notes of the whisky and certainly hits the spot.   Just like when sipping a Margarita, I am transported on a trip to Mexico – with this Scottish Mai Tai, catch the tantalising taste of South Sea island sunshine.

Rob Roy  – created in 1894 by a bartender at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City.

Rob Roy recipe

Switch your usual Scotch for Caribbean Reserve which blends so well with the spicy-herbal Vermouth and the aromatic flavour of the Bitters.

50ml Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve, 30ml Sweet Vermouth, (e.g. Dubonnet), 1 – 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters; Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice, strain into a coupe and garnish with a twist of orange. (Maraschino cherries are traditional but the orange adds extra zest).

The Roy Roy Scotch whisky cocktail – popular since 1894

These are adapted from two classic Bourbon cocktails:

Whisky Sour  

50ml Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve, 25ml lemon juice, 15 ml sugar syrup, 2 dashes Angostura bitters,  ½ fresh egg white.  Shake up with lots of ice, strain into a glass with ice; add zest of lemon and garnish with orange slice.

Old Fashioned

50ml Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve, a dash of Angostura bitters, 1 white sugar cube.   Mix the sugar and bitters in a tumbler glass until the sugar dissolves.  Stir in the whisky and add a large ice cube. Garnish with slice of orange and maraschino cherry.

Old Fashioned

The cocktail inspired its eponymous Old Fashioned glass and Cole Porter celebrated it in this bittersweet song.

Make it Another Old Fashioned, Please

Since I went on the wagon, I’m certain drink is a major crime
For when you lay off the liquor, you feel so much slicker
Well that is, most of the time.
But there are moments, sooner or later
When it’s tough, I got to say, love to say, Waiter

Make it another old-fashioned, please
Make it another, double, old-fashioned, please

The Glenlivet has also invented their own tropical cocktail – Tartan Tiki  

Tartan Tiki – the Glenlivet Tropical island-style cocktail

50ml The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve, 25ml Pineapple Juice, 2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters Stir these together over ice in a tall glass and top with Peach Sparkling Water.

The recipe creates an ice cold, fruity Whisky “Rum Punch” – more suitable perhaps for hot summer days …. but this is the idea, to bring back the chill-out, Caribbean mood, spirit and soul during the winter and Festive season.

The good news is that the Tartan Tiki cocktail kit has just been launched so that you can easily shake this up at home: The hamper includes 70cl bottle of The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve, two bottles of sparkling water, Angostura Bitters, pineapple juice and an orange for the garnish. (6 – 8 serves).

Create at Home – The Tartan Tiki Cocktail kit

Tasting and testing, sipping and sampling The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve in so many different ways, shows how flexible this jazzed up Single Malt proves to be.  Sip a dram poured over a large cube of ice, shake up one of these revamped, classic cocktails above or the tropical Tartan Tiki.

Another seasonal suggestion, instead of the usual Rum, a Caribbean Reserve Hot Toddy would be the perfect, sweet, spicy, smoky winter warmer.

Slainte Mhath!

Where to buy:

The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve is available for purchase at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Amazon and Co-op. RRP £38.59. 

Browse the website and shop on line.

https://www.theglenlivet.com/en-UK

The Caribbean Reserve Tartan Tiki Cocktail kit, RRP £49.50.

https://shop.createcocktails.com/collections/the-glenlivet-caribbean

The Glenlivet Distillery, a painting by Euan McGregor

Fallen Brewing Company, Kippen, Stirlingshire – all aboard for an inspiring, thirst-quenching train journey.

It’s like a 21st century version of The Railway Children – an inspiring tale of an entrepreneurial young couple with an adventurous spirit – and a love of trains and beer – to live the dream.

Kippen Railway Station, 1856 – 1934

First opened in 1856, the Kippen Railway Station, at the foot of the Fintry hills in Stirlingshire, was one of busiest stations on the Forth & Clyde Line due to local industries, until it closed in 1934.   Paul and Karen Fallen purchased the former Victorian station in 2012, spending a year transforming the heritage site into their home and business, Fallen Brewing. (Fallen is pronounced “Phalin”)

The Old Engine Shed was renovated into the Mash Tun and they began brewing in April 2014. 

Fallen Brewing Company, Kippen

The Station setting, rich in character and history, is reflected in their traditional brewing methods with a modern twist, based on carefully picked ingredients such as hibiscus, raspberry, peach, coffee, cacao, passionfruit, lime to create a refreshing range of craft ales and stouts.

Many of the names of each beer are cleverly inspired by the world of trains – Platform C, Local Motive, Switch and Chew Chew or local places as in the rather witty, Stirliner Weisse.

Fallen Brewery has recently rebranded the beer cans, working with Union Creative for a series of charming designs. Now packaged in fabulous, fun rainbow colours, they are illustrated with unique labels based on original pen and ink drawings by Dr. Zain Kapasi, a GP in East Lothian, a keen artist and photographer.

Fallen Brewery at Kippen Station – drawing by Dr. Zain Kapasi

The railway-themed, decorative artwork on each branded beer can, tell the story of Fallen Brewery: the hills and rural landscape around the old Kippen Station, with cute wee trains chugging along the scenic route from Glasgow to Stirling and Edinburgh.

The Glasgow-Stirling-Edinburgh train route, drawing by Dr. Zain Kapasi

Zain’s illustrations were exactly what the coloured designs needed. They add texture, interest and provenance to the cans.”  Fallen Brewery team

Dr Kapasi is inspired by this project and would love to write and illustrate his own children’s books.  A Scottish version of Thomas the Tank Engine would be brillliant – and likely to be very popular.  Kids love Choo Choo train sets. Just imagine, picture books, toys, T shirts, TV series – (and, of course, Fallen Chew Chew Beer for the adults!).

The Fallen craft beers are made using only pure, soft Scottish mountain water and the best hops and malts from around the world.  So, let’s start tasting a few of the Regulars.

Odyssey –  4.1%

This is Fallen’s best-seller, a revamped version of a traditional Bohemian Pilsner.  – described by Paul as “a blonde beer with a fruity aroma and slightly spicy, citrus and stone-fruit flavour.”

Verdict:  A classic America Blonde, good frothy head, light gold colour, with a fragrant, fruity, herbal scent; Fresh peach, lightly hoppy bittersweet taste, refreshingly smooth.  This is a seriously quality, moreish pale ale.

Switch  – 4.8%

A smooth base of pale malts and oats yield a soft, pillowy texture. The delicate bitterness allows tropical fruits to take centre-stage in this juicy, hazy and refreshing pale ale.

Verdict: A delicate, golden IPA.  On the nose, sweet mango and watermelon, developing into a luscious taste of the Caribbean sunshine. The initial sour notes are quickly mellowed by the juicy fruitiness, a touch of spice and lingering dry malt flavour.

Local Motive –  3.9%

First brewed for our local, The Cross Keys in Kippen, a classic, balanced, easy-drinking session style modernised with Mosaic dry hops.”

Verdict: Pale amber colour with lively carbonation, a rich hoppy, sweet fruit perfumed aroma. A finely textured flavour blending mango, apricot and tart tang of grapefruit with an earthy pine bitterness.

Stirliner Weisse – 4.5%

Our interpretation of a Berliner Weisse … flavours of citrus, peach and passionfruit for a sherbet explosion and lasting refreshment.”

Verdict: Pour a glass of this effervescent golden liquor with a thick white head. Soft tropical fruit aroma before the first sip gives a mouthfeel of sharp, sherbety fizz, layered with bitter hops.  Complex tart and tangy flavours create a rich, fresh tasting beer.  

As one fan has described Stirliner Weisse “Hugely refreshing and drinkable stuff. Glad I bought two cans.”

Chew Chew, Salted Caramel Milk Stout – 6%

A sweet, briney, chewy beer brewed with dark Belgian candi syrup, lactose and sea salt. ..a decadent and satisfying beer.”

Verdict: A strong coffee colour with a creamy head and then be prepared for a whiff of sweet caramel and chocolate. Take a slow sip of this richly textured milky, malty Mocha of a beer with undertones of fudge, chocolate brownies and hint of roasted hazelenuts.  Yes, delicously decadent.

Despite being brewed with dark Belgian candi syrup, it’s not overly sweet, the sugary, toffee taste is well balanced by a sprinkle of Hebridean sea salt in the caramel flavour.  A good, solid stout with a bold, boozy punch which would pair well with a platter of oysters.

Chew Chew Stout would pair well with succulent, salty oysters

The experts at Fallen recommend the perfect partner to a Chew Chew – a lightly-peated whisky.  Detective Inspector Rebus, partial to a smoky Laphroaig with a beer chaser, is sure to approve.

Rebus took a long swallow of beer. Having nursed his pint while Rebus downed two double whiskies and two beers, Grant was dismayed to find another half poured into his glass as soon as there was room for it.” 

The Falls, Ian Rankin

The innovative, award winning team at Fallen Brewing Company

Fallen Brewing is all about eco-friendly sustainability – electricity from 100% renewable sources, the spent malt becomes cattle feed, hops are composted and the beer is vegan, unless stated otherwise.  

“We brew beers we want to drink ourselves and we only want to drink the best. The beers are unfiltered and unpasteurised and we source the best ingredients, fill all casks and kegs by hand, and (with) our own canning line, we have total control over the quality of every beer.”

Paul and Karen Fallen have certainly embarked on an adventurous journey on the fast track, inspired by and preserving the cultural and industrial rural heritage of the Kippen railway. In just six years, the brewery has won numerous awards for their distinctively different, hand crafted range of Scottish beers based on commitment, creativity and passion.

Hope this has whetted your thirst and if so ….

Full list of beers, stockists and the online shop, visit,  www.fallenbrewing.co.uk

Have a Vacay – and dream about the great escape with an ice-cold cocktail in hand.

 “Roof top BBQs, moonlit strolls & dappled skies, surprise birthdays & poolside rays, beach day breaks & all night raves, Christmas Eve’s & drinks at Steve’s, glamping excursions & cold weather aversions, hen nights & chicken dinners, blind dates & best mates.”

Vacay Craft Cocktails in a Can offers you that tantalising tropical taste of those sandy beaches and party time.  The premium, gluten free, vegan cocktails have been created by a team of mixologists and culinary experts, using natural ingredients, no artificial flavours or sweeteners. 

We created Vacay as we wanted to provide an exciting option that tastes delicious, but also allows venues to provide the speed of service they require. Sophisticated yet eccentric, Vacay was born as a confident, quirky, unique and stylish new canned cocktail brand taking cocktails out of the bar to new horizons.”

Vacay cockails – Holiday mood and Happy Hour, anytime

Creating a new alcopop was all about developing a fresh personality, image and identity. The bright colourful packaging  is all about fun, animated designs based on sharp, simple Japanese-style illustrations. 

Moscow Mule

Moscow Mule (6.5% abv) –  Misty Isle Vodka, blended with ginger beer, lime juice and a dash of Angostura bitters.

The Moscow Mule was invented in 1941 at New York’s Chatham Hotel. John “Jack” Morgan, owner of the Hollywood Cock’n Bull Restaurant, and John Martin, of Heublein, collaborated by combining their respective products, ginger beer with Smirnoff vodka – a cocktail described as “inventive genius.”

The distinctive, Misty Isle Vodka from the Isle of Skye is triple distilled, made with water from Storr Lochs, resulting in a clean, crisp spirit suitable for enjoying in cocktails and mixed drinks. 

This is a good size serving (330ml) – enough for a tall glass  – and seriously refreshing with a tart citrus tang followed by a warming hit of ginger beer, such that the smooth, quality Vodka is a bit washed out.  The typical Moscow Mule would be about 10 – 11 abv, but this lighter, sparkling version is 6.5%.  A balance of sweet and spicy, perhaps a little too sweet on the alco-pop side for some palates.

Moscow Mule traditionally served in a copper tankard

Garnished with a slice or wedge of lime and mint, it is popularly served in a copper tankard, which takes on the cold temperature of the drink.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins (6.1% abv) – 58 Gin with Sicilian lemon juice, soda water and natural cane sugar.

Created by New York saloon-owner Jerry Thomas, his original blend of gin, fresh lemon, simple syrup and soda was first published in the Bon-Vivant’s Companion, 1876.

The Tom Collins cocktail reminds me of sitting on a porch in the summer and drinking lemonade,” says Bradley Evans, head bartender in Manhattan. “It’s a NYC staple.”

Its simplicity is said to be the beauty of this well-balanced tipple.

The handy cocktail to pop in a bag for the beach

The Vacay version of a Tom Collins is crafted with 58 Gin, a small-batch copper distilled gin produced in Hackney Downs, and when poured into a tall balloon glass over ice, expect a burst of effervescent fizz.

Rather than lemonade, to my taste it was more like Bitter Lemon, but equally thirst-quenching and quaffable.  Again, the alcoholic content may be “drowned” out by the sweetened citrus and soda but instead the aim is to offer a healthier, tipple. A lemonade for the grown ups.

“A Paloma in a can with a cactus doing the can can.”

Paloma (5.7% abv) – Blanco Tequila mixed with pink grapefruit, lime juice, soda water and natural sugarcane.

This jazzy orange and green can illustrated with a dancing cactus.  “A Paloma in a can with a cactus doing the can can.”  Such a super cute image, I would love it on a T-shirt.

The Paloma is the most popular tequila-based cocktail in Mexico. It’s said to be named after La Paloma (“The Dove”), – the popular folk song composed in the early 1860s, – created by the legendary Don Javier Delgado Corona, owner and bartender of La Capilla in Tequila, Mexico.

Vacay has selected the award-wining Espolón Blanco Tequila, double-distilled in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico – and it’s all about the perfect pour, with a splash, a dash and a squeeze of soda, lime juice and pink grapefruit.   When I think of a classic Mexican cocktail, it’s one of my favourites –  a Margarita (Tequila, Triple Sec Liqueur /Cointreau and lime juice) and this Paloma is certainly related, a sassy sister perhaps, given its similar sharp, tart citrus kick. 

The aroma is a fresh whiff of grapefruit, and the taste is akin to a light, sparkling Margarita. In fact, you could smear the rim of the glass with salt for a complex sweet, sour, bitter, salty flavour.  This is a zesty sparkling cocktail with the taste of the Mexican sun. 

Vodka Soda

Blood Orange Vodka Soda (5.2% abv) –  Misty Isle Vodka, blood orange juice and hibiscus syrup, lemon, soda water.

The simple mix of vodka with soda was jazzed up in the early 1990s, by a bar tender in Washington, as a Rose Kennedy Cocktail, named after the matriarch of America’s first family.  Commonly known as a “VSS” (vodka soda splash), it’s  Vodka, Club soda, garnished with a slice of lemon and just a splash of cranberry juice to give a pale pink tint.

The Vacay version  of a Vodka Soda is a twist on the Rose Kennedy with Misty Isle Vodka from the isle of Skye, topped up with sparkling soda water, a slurp of hibiscus syrup and a splash of blood orange juice to give a vibrant shade of  the summer sun. 

Hibscus syrup has a delicate floral aroma with a tart cranberry and citrus flavour.  The first taste is clearly lemon to the fore, but sweet, a tad reminiscent of lemon and honey cough mixture I had as a child.  Served ice cold, it is extremely refreshing and at only 130 calories for the 330 ml can, this is a low alcohol, easy drinking cocktail.  Drink Responsibly is the message.

So take time out, relax and dream of a great escape with these cool, contemporary craft cocktails.  Have a Vacay, as they say!

The recommended retail price is £4.50/330ml can

For more information and to purchase on line, in packs of 4 or 24 – http://www.haveavacay.com