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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.

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

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,

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 –

Le Grand Cros – classic, crisp, cool Rosé wines from Provence

Le Grand Cros Domaine, Provence, South of France

In Provence, making Rosé wines is a speciality and a longstanding way of life, thanks to the climate, terroir and varietals which are perfectly suited to this wine.  Provence is the number one French region for its production.

Soft pink blushing wines

Traditionally sipped al fresco in summer, such is the popularity of rosé, also called Rosato or Rosado wine, that it is now consumed year round. Not much more than a decade ago, the market was led by semi-sweet blush wines from California, but today it’s bone-dry, pale pink wines primarily from Provence. The Greeks planted the first grapevines here over two thousand years ago, the oldest wine region in France, and Rosé is the oldest known wine.

The consumption of rosé wine has continued to rise such that one in three bottles of wine purchased is a bottle of rosé.  Exports of Provence wines have skyrocketed by nearly 500% in just 15 years!

Jumping on the bandwagon, Kylie Minogue has even launched her own Côtes de Provence Rosé to mark her 52nd birthday this year. Her name is on the label, but she is not the winemaker!.

Kylie has launched her own Cote de Provence Rosé

It was in 1989 when the retired Canadian diplomat and businessman, Sir Hugh Faulkner and his English wife, Jane, an artist, bought the Grand Cros domaine.  Located near Carnoules, 50km north-west of St Tropez in the valley of the Maures mountains, it’s surrounded by pine and olive trees.

Le Grand Cros – a verdant landscape of vines and olive groves

Their eldest son, Julian, completed Masters degree in Bordeaux and in 2000, took over the management of the 24 hectare estate which now produces a range of classic white, red, rosé and sparkling wines.   One of their rosé wines was especially chosen for the banquet at Windsor Castle celebrating the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. 

Le Grand Cros Domaine

Julian runs the family vineyard in the traditional style with a modern, entrepreneurial, business approach. The “Jules” label was launched in 2005 to offer a range of good value wines from different regions and appellations across the south of France. He developed new technology, a computer-linked weather station and embarks on sales trips from Hong Kong to New York.  To reach a younger, international market, the “Jules” brand  is promoted on YouTube. 

Passionate oenophiles – Hugh, Jane and Julian Faulkner

Le Grand Cros is known mostly for its quality rosé wines, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to sip and sample two of their award winning wines.

Le Grand Cros wines: the taste of the South of France in the summer sun

Le Grand Cros,  L’esprit de Provence, 2019

Julian Faulkner introduces it thus:

“Dry and fruity, this rosé seduces with its tenderness, elegance and freshness. With its pretty texture and beautiful aromatic concentration, it is particularly suitable for gastronomic moments.”

This is a carefully crafted blend of grape varieties – Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvedre, Shiraz

With a beautiful shade of peach or perhaps smoked salmon, expect an aroma of apricot, grapefruit, a hint of lychee with floral and herbal notes.  The first taste offers a tart, soft berry and citrus fruitiness, well balanced to release a refreshing, dry, crisp character.  The complex layered, depth of flavour would complement a diverse range of cuisine, especially seafood – ceviche, sushi, pasta with clams, fish soup and indeed a slice of delectable smoked salmon.  An elegant, easy drinking Rosé to experience over a leisurely lunch. 

Gold Medal at the Vinalies Internationale and Mundis Vini; Best Rosé Œnologues de France competition, 2019.

Jules – Cote de Provence

Jules  – Cote de Provence, 2019

Grape Varieties: Grenache, Semillon, Cinsault, Rolle

This pink blush wine offers a rich aroma of ripe white peaches, sweet orange and the tang of lemon, presenting an initial gooseberry tartness, akin to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. But the underlying flavour is softer, lighter and mellow. Sip and savour to detect strawberry and crème de cassis with a slight acidity of grapefruit.  Luscious, ripe, and summery – year round.

A great value rosé, delightfully delicate to sip, day or night, as an aperitif or to accompany classic Provençal Provencal dishes, such as Bouillabaisse, Ratatouille and Pissaladière, the region’s sophisticated take on pizza with caramelised onions, garlic, anchovies and pitted olives.

The Jules label has created the quintessential Provence Rosé, winning a clutch of major awards over the past decade not least, Gold Medal, Concours des Grands Vins de Mâcon, 2010 and Silver Medal, International Competition of Rosés of the World, 2011.

Le Grand Cros Vineyard

With a respect for the environment and climate, Julian blends science and art, passion and instinct to ensure the quality of our wines that best reflect the spirit of this Provencal estate. Faulkner Wines produces over 500,000 bottles of quality wine and sells to over 20 countries.  

Le Grand Cros – Aurelia

Another leading Faulkner wine is Le Grand Cros –Aurélia named after Julian’s eldest daughter. Such was the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the Aurélia 2015 that a 2016 release followed. A three-year gap ensured the vintage was once again perfect to launch Aurélia 2019, with a creamier texture and greater complexity.

“If you have tried previous vintages, the 2019 is more feminine with less vinosity. Just like her namesake, she is growing up and showing immense charm and finesse.” Julian Faulkner

For the Faulkner family and Le Grand Cros vineyard, life is rosy.!

For more information, suppliers and purchase on line:

The Tempest Brewing Company celebrates ten years of passion, innovation and creativity

The Tempest story reads like the plot of a jet setting, romantic movie!.

Gavin and Annika Meiklejohn first met, most appropriately, in a brewpub in Canada, and then set off travelling together in search of a dream. While based in New Zealand for a while, Gavin worked as a chef as well as taking up the challenge of home brewing in his garage.

We were making beer in New Zealand and my friends would come over from Scotland and ask why they couldn’t buy beer like this back home.”

This success kick started the idea for their own drinks business. In April 2010, they moved across the world to the Scottish Borders to set up The Tempest Brewing Company, a ten barrel brewery in a disused dairy in Kelso.

Within four years they were struggling to match production with demand and needed to develop the business with larger premises. The Tempest team moved across country to Tweedbank, near Melrose with space for improved facilities and a bottling line.

The non-stop Bottling Line, Tempest Brewing Company, Tweedbank

Developing a business against stiff competition from other craft beer makers needs entrepreneurial business skills, brand identity, imagination and creativity.

“Dry hopping, specialist malts and sourcing expensive New Zealand and American hop varieties. This was purely about making the best beer we could imagine, smoky beers, chilli beers, fruit beers… nothing was off limits. The line between creativity and gimmickry is a fine one.” 

The creative team with Gavin and Annika Meiklejohn

In Victorian Britain, a typical dish served in a Tavern was oysters accompanied by a strong dark beer – the original, cheap, fast food as Sam Weller remarks in Dickens’ novel,  The Pickwick Papers, “poverty and oysters always seem to go together.”  Having an “oyster stout” referred to eating oysters with a pint of Porter. Later on, someone had the idea to add oyster shells along with the barley and hops to enhance the flavour. Then, in 1929 an innovative brewer in New Zealand added the juicy, salty molluscs into the boiling beer wort and the true Oyster Stout was born.

Double Shuck Imperial Oyster Stout

Inspired by this classic beer, in 2015 Tempest created Double Shuck, Imperial Oyster Stout, made with 200 fresh Lindisfarne oysters. If this Stout is sipped with a platter of oysters, that would be a powerful aphrodisiac.!

The key to their success is innovation, launching topical, seasonal products with catchy names and colourful logos, such as Brave New World, Long White Cloud, Vermont Sessions, Cold Wave, Dios Mio! Lime Jalapeno, as well as enticing series, The IPA club, Discovery and Easy Rider packs of 24 cans.

For instance, Mexicake, a Chile and Chocolate Imperial Stout comes from a passion for Mexican culture and food to create a rich, boozy stout (11%ABV), infused with vanilla beans, cocoa, cinnamon, chipotle and mulato chillies.

The spicy Mexicake Stout inspired by a love of all things Mexican

The specialist, slow crafting of each distinctive ale, beer and stout is based on quality ingredients – their own strains of yeast, locally sourced malted barley and natural water. As their logo expresses it so well, “Designed and built in the Scottish Borders.”

Tempest Brewing Company has won numerous trade and business awards, including Scottish Brewery of the Year, (Scottish Beer Awards, 2016), and recently listed in RateBeer’s top 100 breweries in the world, a prestigious achievement.

Tempest Brewing Company – Awards galore + Scottish Brewery of the Year, 2016

And the latest news hot of the press is that Tempest Brewing Company is listed in the third edition of the World Atlas of Beer, 2020.  In a section under names to look out for, it is selected as one of the best new British breweries of the 21st century.  Compiled by Tim Webb & Stephen Beaumont, this is a definite, essential guide to global beers, (published by Mitchell Beazley).

Beer Atlas of the World, Webb & Beaumont, Mitchell Beazley


So it’s time to taste and test, sip and savour the three beers in the Fruit Series featuring Peach, Mango and Blueberry, to entice and tease the taste buds with their distinctively different styles, strength and flavour.

Mango Berliner – 4 % ABV

What Tempest say:  “Sunshine in a glass no matter the weather!   The perfect summer beer. We brew it with a lager fermentation to give it that crisp, refreshing drinkability, but jam pack it with plenty fresh mango and dry hops to give it a super fruity, zingy punch”.

The verdict:  Refreshing.  So, so refreshing; a somewhat tart and fruity weisse Berliner-style beer which one starts sipping and ends gulping.

It’s light, very easy drinking and packed with fresh mango. That mango is immediately evident on the zesty tropical nose, with just a little dry, grassy hops. In the mouth it’s also light and balanced with easy-going tartness and a hint of shortbread.

Some people might hope for a more bitter or more hoppy experience but that is not really what this style is about, and this is just what it should be, a really refreshing Summer beer.

Other drinkers are equally impressed:

Mango ice cream taste. Surprisingly yummy.

Floral and ripe tropical aromas, notes of mango, papaya.

Lots of exotic fruity mango sweetness in the aroma, Great Berliner Weiss!

Peach Sour – 4.5% ABV

What Tempest say:

You’ll want to use your good can opener on this tin of peaches. We’ve mellowed out the fresh acidity of the peach with creamy, delicate vanilla.”

The verdict: Another Summer in a can in the form of peaches and cream.

Again, a Berliner weisse style beer that is big on fruit, this time an initial tart peach balanced with a dollop of vanilla cream.

A surprisingly full mouthfeel leaves an acidic finish with lasting peach flavour. Easy drinking and refreshing, it will be down to palate as to whether the sourness wins out over the fruity Mango Berliner.

Blueberry Pastry Stout – 9% ABV

What Tempest say: “An outrageous blueberry stout, hot from the pastry section”.

The verdict: Even after a great meal there is probably always time for dessert; perhaps even second helpings. No surprise then that gastropubs favour their roasts and speciality burgers but also feature the perennial and ubiquitous Sticky Toffee Pudding.

When the Summer fades we can start to long for some “comfort” food and it’s time also for the zingy, fresh stone and citrus fruity and hoppy IPAs to give way to something a little richer, more indulgent – perhaps even decadent.

Step up Tempest Brewing Company’s Blueberry Pastry Stout bearing the legend “… the bluer the berry, the sweeter, the thicker, the roastier, the chocolatier, the boozier, the stout”.  Stouts of this kind should be the liquid equivalent of cake or pastry; over-the-top in terms sweet, distinctive and clearly identifiable flavour.

Tempest’s offering hits the spot with this big, intensely blueberry, deeply dark stout. On the nose, the fruity blueberry aroma is instantly there against a background of malty dark chocolate. Rich and thick with a creamy, velvety mouth feel, that sweet blueberry flavour is to the fore with just a little bitterness in the background. The finish is long and, just when you think it has stopped giving, the blueberries rush back in with a smooth and warming last bite.

The ABV. of 9.0% vol provides a big slice of booze – Just make sure that you have room for pudding.

This richly flavoured dark stout could work well paired with a hearty dish such as a spicy Chilli, a Beef and Ale Pie, or a juicy Burger.

A spicy Chilli, Steak pie, Burger perfectly paired with Tempest Stout

Nothing is so traditional as a Ploughman’s Lunch, so why not pair a Tempest beer or Stout with a mature Cheddar Cheese and crusty bread.  Highly recommended is the awards winning Cheddar Gorge Cheese, the only cheddar cheese actually made in the village of Cheddar, Somerset. (

This Blueberry Pastry Stout is a winner:

Sweet taste at first, very boozy, strong blueberry, bittersweet flavour with well-balanced hop in the finish. Exquisite.

Pours a deep mahogany black with a violet tint. Creamy pale tan head. Strong notes of Cassis  with dark chocolate, creamy vanilla and liquorice on the palate.  Cannot wait to try this at the next Tempest beer festival!

2010 – 2020  From a garage in Christchurch to a brewery in Tweedbank, Happy 10th birthday Tempest. Cheers! 

Tempest Brewing Company have hosted annual Springfest and Oktoberfest and continue to host regular Tempest Tap sessions at the Brewery.  Take a trip to Tweedbank in the stunning, tranquil Scottish Borders.

For all information on the range of beers, on line purchase, suppliers and events at the Brewery, see the website.

Address: 1&2, Block 11 Tweedbank Industrial Estate, Tweedbank  TD1 3RS

Telephone:  01896 759500

Tweedbank Station is just a six minute walk from the brewery, ideal for staff to commute and visitors travelling for brewery events and Festivals.

The re-launch of the Borders Railway in 2015 provides a vital transport link between Edinburgh and Tweedbank. Winner of the best new UK Tourism venture from the British Guild of Travel Writers, the route has brought much improved travel, tourism, social, economic, employment and environmental benefits to the Scottish Borders.

The Borders Railway campaign is now full speed ahead to extend the line to Hawick and Carlisle, which would be a further boost for Tempest Brewing Company.

The Borders Railway route through tranquil landscape from Edinburgh to Tweedbank

Beavertown Beers – Sci-fi fantastical, fun cans of refreshing tropical fruity, happy hoppiness

It was almost ten years ago in 2011, when Logan Plant, inspired by fine crafted beers and ales around the world, began experimenting to create his own brew using a 50 litre rice pan as a hot liquor tank, a camping cool box as a mash tun and a tea urn as a kettle.

Beavertown was born.

From small scale home brewing in Hackney,  the business has moved to state of the art premises in Tottenham Hale, employing forty members of staff, with two dozen tanks, canning line, distribution centre and an extensive Tap Room.

There is a popular Core range of six beers, Nanobot, Beavo, Bloody ‘Ell, Neck Oil, Gamma Ray and Lupuloid, each with their distinctive taste, style and creative inspiration.

“Every aspect of our brewing process is meticulously considered and our unique artwork is integral to our expression and philosophy as a brewery. We strive to attain the highest quality in all our beers which is why we introduced our core range into cans. Stability and freshness rules.

Logan Plant

Logan Plant, the founder of Beavertown (image courtesy of The Brewers Journal)

With this sense of focus, Beavertown fast developed to become a leader in the craft beer market, which can be attributed as much for the drinks as well as to its psychedelic labels.

Nick Dwyer started drawing labels for Beavertown Brewery not long after graduating from Central Saint Martins, where he’d studied illustration.  He didn’t realise at the time, but those initial drawings – which included the now iconic Gamma Ray –  gave Beavertown their strong brand identity.

While other craft beers have adopted bold packaging and wacky names, Beavertown very much set the trend. The stand-out, easily identified mind-altering labels came about at a time when, as Nick Dwyer himself admits,  “sticking spacemen, skeletons, skulls and weird shit exploding on cans was something unexpected”.

It’s one of those design moments that go on to influence others … similar in impact to the visual style of the genre defining Borderland the space western, science fantasy video game as well as the noirish calaca-like Day of the Dead figures of Grim Fandango the 3D computer graphic adventure.

At Beavertown, we believe beer is more than just a beer, it’s an experience”

Neck Oil Session IPA  4.3% ABV

What Beavertown say: “This started life as a home-brew. We wanted to create a light, crisp, punchy, go to beer! A beer that you know you can pick up and appreciate or simply kick back, relax and oil your neck.   The name Neck Oil comes from our founder Logan, fondly remembering his Grandad – “off down the pub for a pint of neck oil”.

Verdict: Very pale straw coloured, a tropical tang on the nose and taste and lightly hopped. Not too much carbonation, refreshing, slightly dry on the finish.  This is a classic American IPA, a superb balance of bitter grapefruit, hoppy flavour with subtle pineapple and peach sweetness. The ultimate thirst quencher.

Lupuloid IPA  6.7% ABV

What Beavertown say: “ …first straight up IPA, no funny business, just malt, yeast, water and hops. Lots of hops.”

Verdict: A slightly hazy, lemon colour.  Aroma is juicy fruity giving the taste buds a sharp zing of grapefruit, mango and citrus with an underlying herbal tone of grassy hops, Very drinkable and richly refreshing.

Gamma Ray  5.4% ABV

What Beavertown say: “ the concept was to create a juicy tropical beer. A brew you can sit on and drink all day, rammed with juicy malts and huge aromas of mango and grapefruit. Massive additions of American hops.”

Verdict:  A cloudy, orange-gold colour with some carbonation.  On the nose, tropical fruit, citrus and herbal hops. Enticing blend of passion fruit, tangy tangerine, lemon, pine and peppery spice. Smooth and easy drinking with a satisfying long bitter finish.

Bloody ‘Ell  7.5% abv

What Beavertown say: “ A smack of citrus with hints of warm blood orange aromas brought on by refined malt and loads of juicy hops.” 

Verdict:  Sunshine straw colour with fizzy head, sweet orange aroma.  Herbal hoppy and dry biscuit combined with grapefruit and blood orange zestiness underlying dark coffee  notes. Finishes with a dry bitterness softened with citrus.

Nanobot  2.8% ABV

What Beavertown say: “our low ABV IPA – a style we affectionately term the Super Session IPA  Nanobot is packed with power hitting citrus notes, a tropical twist of pina colada and a refreshing piney bitter finish to give you the full body and flavour of a 5% IPA. The addition of oats and wheat to the brew give a fuller, richer mouthfeel at just  97 kcal per can and around half the ABV as a regular IPA as well as 100% vegan.

Verdict:  A clear straw yellow pour with a bubbly white head, and fragrant scent of pine and tangerine; fresh citrus, grapefruit and mandarin flavours, light, crisp and easily sipped over a super IPA drinking session.

Beaverton received two gold medals at the International Beer Challenge for their core range beers Gamma Ray & Neck Oil with a Silver medal for Bloody ‘Ell.

Even before you crack open a can, the quirky, colourful, fantastical, fun design makes you smile; then the bittersweet aroma hits the nostrils, as you sip and savour the sunny, tropical island fruit flavours to ensure hoppy happiness.

Beavertown doesn’t just offer a cool beer, but a satisfying drinking experience.  Cheers.!

No wonder this inspirational brewery has been named as one of the best 21st Century start-ups in the UK, in the new “World Atlas of Beer”, 3rd edition, 2020, by Tim Webb & Stephen Beaumont. Published by Mitchell Beazley.

This is a beautifully illustrated and comprehensive guide to global beers and breweries with a concise history of the brewing industry from original invention to topical stories and entrepreneurial businesses.

Read all about the Beavertown Brewery, Core Range, limited editions, where to purchase and visiting the Tap Room.

Check out Beer Finder here too for your local bar serving Beavertown craft beers.  

Beavertown listed in the Beer Atlas of the World, 1920 Webb & Beaumont, (Mitchell Beazley)


Cap Gin – a taste of the luxurious, languid life of leisure along the Côte d’Azur, 1920s style.

The term Côte d’Azur was coined by the writer, Stephen Liégeard, whose 1887 travel guide to the French Riviera, “ La Côte d’Azur, described this ‘coast of light and warm breezes.”In the early 20th century, this sunshine coast inspired the Impressionist artists, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Dufy, Bonnard and Picasso, who lived and painted around Nice, Villefranche, Antibes and Cagnes-sur-Mer to capture the luminous colour of land and sea.

The Riviera also became a glamorous retreat for wealthy travellers, celebrity writers, musicians and socialites of the Jazz Age.   Leaving Long Island,  New York, in 1924, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda moved to the Villa Saint Louis, Juan-les-Pins, their residence for three years.

“We were going to the Old World to find a new rhythm to our lives. ... driving along the High Corniche Road through the twilight with the whole French Riviera twinkling on the sea below. As far ahead as I could see was Monte Carlo…when life was literally a dream.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald

Villa Saint Louis, Juan-les-Pins, later became the Belle Rives Hotel

The so-called “lost generation” of Americans sought refuge here to escape Prohibition back home.  At the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, luxury villas and super-yachts. along the coast, the Fitzgeralds, Gerald and Sara Murphy, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter, Stravinsky, Gertrude Stein and Coco Chanel – gathered for extravagant parties where champagne and cocktails flowed through the night.

Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Antibes

Leisurely life and times here became the backdrop for his novel, “Tender is the Night”, opening with a description of the legendary Eden-Roc resort.

“On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, halfway between Marseille and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-coloured hotel. Deferential palms cool its flushed façade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach. Lately it has become a summer resort of notable and fashionable people”.

In a letter to his friend Ernest Hemingway, FSF wrote ” ….. back on my beloved Riviera…I’m happier than I’ve been for years. It’s one of those strange, precious and all too transitory moments when everything in one’s life seems to be going well.”

It is also a beloved, magical place for three friends, Andrew Campbell, James Auld and Adam Payne who shared a dream to reflect its cultural, literary heritage in a distinctive, dry French Gin.

CAP Gin is an expression of the Côte d’Azur distilled in a bottle, created from local botanicals – juniper, coriander, angelica Root,  lemon peel, and pink peppercorns – blended with the iconic fragrance of Rose, Mimosa and Fleur d’Oranger synonymous with the coastline between Monaco and Saint Tropez.

An expression of leisurely life and times along the French Riviera distilled in CAP gin

The recipe for this premium spirit has been refined and perfected in collaboration with Dr David Clutton, who has extensive knowledge of pot stills and distillation.

 “CAP Gin encapsulates the true essence of the hills and coastal fringes of the French Riviera.  With citrus elements derived from lemon and sweet orange peels, aromatic Fleur d’Oranger buds and Mimosa flowers delivers a complex and elegant, yet perfectly balanced gin, of superior quality.”  Dr. David Clutton.

It was an immediate success, receiving two gold medals for both Premium and London Dry categories, from the Spirits Business Gin Masters 2020. With scores of 80-89, CAP gin was judged to be “floral and luxurious” and the must-have drink this summer.

So, no wonder that I have been very keen to try this award winning gin myself.  The chunky bottle is well designed with an attractive aqua blue and turquoise label.  On the stopper is tiny logo of a swimmer in a swooping dive, encircled by a clever tagline, “Cap – L’Esprit de la Côte,”  truly spiritual in both senses of the word.

Vintage travel poster – sunbathers, swimmers and an elegant diver.

The aroma on the nose is delicately perfumed evoking soft floral notes with a whiff of sea air, while the blend of herbal, floral and fruit ingredients are finely balanced, as tested in a dry Martini.

The initial sip is such a pure, clean taste, crisp, biscuity, bone-dry, and a garnish of a twist of orange draws out the sweet citrus tang. I often prefer an olive in a Martini, adding a touch of salty spice as a lingering aftertaste.  With complex layers of aromatic flavours, this is a smoothly textured, highly sophisticated gin to be savoured in leisurely, languid fashion.

Gin Martini

Stir ingredients gently with ice in a mixing glass, strain into a chilled martini glass

75ml CAP Gin

15ml Noilly Prat vermouth

Garnish: Orange

As a G&T, what could be a better companion that Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic, infused with the oils of local flowers, fruits and herbs such as lemon thyme from Provence.

A predecessor of the Martini, the Martinez is said to be the most classic of classic cocktails.  There are various stories about its origin, either invented by a bartender in Martinez, California or at a hotel in San Francisco.  The recipe was first published in O.H. Byron’s “The Modern Bartender” in 1884,  described as being the “same as a Manhattan, only you substitute the gin for whisky.”


40 ml CAP Gin

25 ml Sweet Vermouth

5 ml Maraschino Liqueuer

1 Dash of Angostura Bitters

Stir all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with orange zest.

This cocktail is perfectly suited for CAP gin as Hôtel Martinez is a landmark art deco building on the Croisette waterfront in Cannes. It opened on 20 February 1929 by its owner & founder, Emmanuel Michele Martinez, the son of a noble Italian family.

It was on the French Riviera where F. Scott Fitzgerald finished The Great Gatsby, and most appropriately the recent movie starting Leonardo DiCaprio, opened the Cannes Film Festival in May 2013 …….(with a post show party most likely at the Hôtel Martinez.)

Fitzgerald was enchanted by the Riviera .. ….its “diffused magic of the hot sweet South … the soft-pawed night and the ghostly wash of the Mediterranean far below.”

This was his playground for work, writing, pleasure and socialising leisure. While he commented that “too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” his favourite tipple was gin as he believed it could not be smelt on his breath.

His cocktail of choice was a Gin Rickey, as introduced in chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby.

Tom came back, preceding four Gin Rickeys that clicked full of ice. Gatsby took up his drink.
“They certainly look cool,” he said, with visible tension. We drank in long, greedy swallows.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Gin Rickey

2 oz. Gin

1/2  Lime

Club Soda Water

Add the gin to a tall glass full of ice with the juice from the lime half, and then drop the shell into the glass.  Top with soda water.

Scott and Zelda were known to frequent the Bar Américain at the Hôtel de Paris, Monaco, for a nightcap – most likely a Gin Rickey or a Gin Fizz.

Gin Rickey – one of Fitzgerald’s favourite cocktails

CAP Gin certainly does capture L’Esprit de la Côte, evoking the glamorous lifestyle of those decadant hedonistic days on the French Riviera, a century ago.   Whether you prefer a refreshing G&T, a Martini, Martinez or Negroni, do try this silky smooth, classy, classic and oh so, elegant Gin.  Yes, the must-have drink for summer 2020.

Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Zelda and Chanel et al, would have approved of CAP gin!   à votre santé

CAP gin is distilled and produced at Distillerie des Terres Rouges, Turenne, France, available to purchase in the UK via,

Bombay Bramble – 100% natural fruit with no added sugar, the “healthy” Pink Gin for summer 2020!

The best selling, Double gold award winning Bombay Sapphire Gin has recently launched Bombay Bramble, infused with raspberries and blackberries.  For the purist who might assume that tinkering with the clear fresh taste of classic Dry London gin, is a modern fad, in fact, flavoured, fruit-based gins are nothing new.

Foraging Berries from the Blackthorn bush to make home-made Sloe Gin was a country custom from the 17th century, and this ruby-red, sweet liqueur was soon served in London taverns as a poor man’s Port.

Charlie Chaplin cocktail – invented at Waldorf Astoria, 1920

The “Charlie Chaplin” cocktail featuring sloe gin and apricot brandy was invented at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York a century ago. In recent years, Sloe Gin has enjoyed a revival through many quality brands.

Angostura Bitters was developed in 1824 by Dr. Johann Siegert, of Angostura, Venezuela, as a remedy for tropical stomach ailments. Its unpleasant bitter taste was palatable when mixed with gin by Royal Navy seamen who, by happy accident, first created Pink Gin which then became a popular cocktail from the mid 1880s.  A very simple recipe – 60ml Dry Gin with a few dashes of Angostura Bitters.

1959 Angostura Bitters, Pink Gin advertisement

During the Prohibition era in the USA, creative concoctions – Asparagus and Carrot gins!?-  were distilled undercover, and by the 1930s, a plethora of lemon, orange and pineapple gins were produced as pre-bottled cocktails.

More recently, a range of fruit gins have been produced with sparkling success, especially the original Andalucian strawberry gin from Puerto de Indias, Seville, inspiring a new category.  Other refreshing summer drinks include Sicilian Lemon, Rhubarb & ginger and Elderflower.

Now, launched for summer 2020 is the colourful, fruit flavoured, Bombay Bramble Gin.

Bombay Sapphire, with its famous, classic blue label featuring a portrait of Queen Victoria, Empress of India, is credited with single-handedly leading the modern Gin Craze over the past decade.  The recipe of this top class premium gin dates as far back as 1761 with an innovative distillation process. The botanicals – angelica root harvested in Saxony, cubeb berries from Java, liquorice from China –  are vapourised individually then mixed and finally re-condensed, giving the gin a unique, balanced and harmonious character.

So what is distinctive about Bombay Sapphire?  On the nose, bright, piney juniper, earthy notes, a gentle, well rounded flavour of juicy citrus with touch of sweet violet, leading to a lingering taste of lime, lemon and grassy herbs. Perfect with a Mediterranean tonic and a sprig of rosemary, or in a classic dry Martini. A cool, classy, sophisticated gin.

Bombay Sapphire was awarded Double Gold at the 17th San Francisco World Spirits Competition.   It’s part of the portfolio of Bacardi Ltd, one of the founding companies of the Gin Guild to promote excellence in the production and promotion of gin worldwide.

Bombay Bramble is therefore an exciting new venture, combining the classic dry London gin infused with fresh blackberries and raspberries, and most importantly, there is no added sugar.

How to serve: 50 ml  Bombay Bramble over ice, 100 ml Premium tonic water,  a squeeze and garnish of Lemon.  With a vibrant, vivacious shade of ripe plum-soft cerise, this is a modern Pink Gin.

Bombay Bramble Gin

“The colour and flavour of Bombay Bramble comes only from botanicals and 100% natural fruit ingredients,  infusing the gin with an exclusive maceration of berries that have been harvested at their ripest moment, resulting in a unique, bold flavour.”

Ivano Tonutti, Bombay Sapphire Master of Botanicals & Dr. Anne Brock, Master Distiller.

The inspiration for this new style of fruit gin is the Bramble cocktail. It was created by the  legendary Dick Bradsell in the 1980s at Fred’s Club, Soho, a concoction of dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur), which gives it a deep, fruity and sweet taste. One of the most iconic gin drinks of the modern age.

Bramble cocktail – created by Dick Bradsell in Fred’s Club, Soho

Flavoured gin is a category that can’t be ignored, accounting for over a third of total gin value. Our refusal to add refined sugar ensures a less sweet and cloying taste, allowing the true nature of our gin to shine through by using a rich fruit infusion (in) Bombay Bramble”.

Natasha Curtin, global vice president of Bombay Sapphire

The aroma is like home made jam with underlying earthy juniper notes. Sampled neat over ice there’s a bitterness on first sip, but diluted with a splash of tonic, the blend of juicy sweet, tangy, tart ripe berry flavour shines through, with the underlying rich spicy, herbal depth of Bombay Sapphire gin.

There is a real hint of Campari too, the bittersweet Italian liqueur, so let’s see how they compare.

The Campari story begins in the early 1860s, when a bartender named Gaspare Campari started inventing bottled cocktails, with neutral alcohol, raspberry juice, citrus fruits, herbs, vanilla. Today, Campari is a blend of equal parts of alcohol, sugar syrup, distilled water and an infusion of oranges, berries, rhubarb, ginseng and herbs.

So perhaps Bombay Bramble Gin could be used in a classic Negroni?

Negroni cocktail – try with Bombay Bramble Gin

Crème de cassis, the blackcurrent liqueur from Dijon is famously used in the aperitif Kir, added to a flute of white wine, or with champagne, for a Kir Royale.

Likewise, a few dashes of Bombay Bramble to ice cold Prosecco would make a refreshing aperitif.

Bombay Bramble Royale (instead of Kir)

Life’s a Picnic with a feast of juicy berries this summer says The Sunday Times (2nd August).

Bombay Bramble time!

Life’s a Picnic – Sunday Times, a feast of Berries – with Bombay Bramble Gin

Bombay Bramble is widely available, at all leading supermarkets and off licences, with an RRP, £23 a bottle.

The Bombay Sapphire Distillery, located at an award winning heritage site, Laverstoke Mill, Hampshire, is now open again for visitors. Book the Discovery Experience for a guided tour of the Botancial Glasshouses and Dakin Still Room to learn all about the creative vapour infusion process, or take part in a Gin Cocktail masterclass. Gift shop to purchase Bombay Sapphire gins, gifts and personalised bespoke bottles.   A great day out or a weekend away with fine restaurants and accommodation nearby.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Laverstoke Mill, Hampshire

Check the website for all information on Bombay Sapphire Gins, Bombay Bramble and Distillery visits.

Halo Drinks: Cool Cocktails on the Go for happy summer days at work and home

Halo Drinks is a hospitality company in London created by Ben Hodges and Christina Kimeze, providing a specialist bar service and mobile cocktail van for a range of bespoke drinks and cocktails for private parties, weddings and corporate events.  It’s an innovative and time saving concept, supplying premium batched cocktails in smartly designed bottles.  Just open, pour and serve.

During lockdown, Halo Drinks had the bright idea to adapt their business by offering a cocktail delivery service.  With pubs temporarily shut, how enticing to be able to sip a professionally shaken, ice cold Margarita in the isolated comfort of your home.

We would never have thought about ordering cocktails at home before this.”, says Ben, “We knew that if we were going to launch a business tailor made for the current situation, we needed to do it fast… that focus helped us.”

They found a kitchen in West Kensington to experiment, craft and create a menu of colourful cocktails, including Tommy’s Margarita, Rosé all Day, Negroni, White Port Paloma, Old Fashioned and Lemon Drop with the choice of 50cl and 70 cl bottles.

Summer cocktails from Halo Drinks

The motto is “Expertly prepared and perfectly balanced cocktails. Exceptional ingredients, uncompromising quality.”

In order to test this out, I was kindly sent a chunky bottle of Rosé all Day, which is a soft shade of pink blush with a Tiffany turquoise wrapper around the cork.

Ingredients: Provence Rosé wine, Rum, Rosé Liqueur, Cointreau, Pama Pomegranite Liqueur, Rhubarb Bitters, Lemon.

The serving measure given on the website says “Pour out 100ml and stir well over ice. Garnish with an orange twist”.  However, on the bottle, it suggests a 70ml measure, which seems a large enough shot, so I poured this into a champagne coupe with ice and a slice.

On the nose, there is a fragrant aroma which is also detected in the first taste, mellow, a touch of honey sweetness, with a rather nice after taste of ginger.   All the ingredients have certainly been well blended together, so much so that you don’t actually distinguish the individual flavours of the Rum and Cointreau, more of a jazzed up glass of Rosé wine.

Refreshing and fruity, this is a very light, gluggable summer drink as the ABV is just 17% – more of a  Rum punch than a cocktail with a hard kick.

 “Rosé all Day” a mellow, fruity rum punch.

The fragrance is certainly like a delicious perfume.  A best seller from Jo Malone is “Lime Basil and Mandarin” which is a superb, subtle blend of herbs and citrus fruit.   Likewise, “Rosé all Day” could also be produced as a candle and a cologne!

As these cocktails are made from “exceptional ingredients,” it would be most interesting to know the name of the Provencal vineyard, and the brands of Rum and liqueurs.   And just an idea – a warning note that it must be kept refrigerated is in tiny print on the back label, easily missed – a tag around the neck of the bottle would be better.

Now that we can invite friends to our homes in restricted numbers, a selection of refreshing summer cocktails, all ready muddled, shaken and ready to serve and sip can be ordered on line.

The very popular, White Port Paloma

The new normal for many people is still very much WFH so that after-office drinks are off limits and business currently conducted via Zoom, GoToMeeting and audio conferencing. Why not organise Team Drinks for colleagues and clients.  With customised bottle design and personal messages to showcase a brand or product, Halo can supply drinks for a virtual corporate hospitality event.

The wittily entitled, “Working from Home” is a heady concoction of bourbon, gin, bitter lime, and ginger ale.

“Working from Home” cocktail for Zoom events – after office hours

“Add some va va voom to your Zoom”

“Thanks so much for all your help with getting the drinks to everyone, the feedback was amazing. Everyone enjoyed it and we all had a drink over Zoom together ” Lucy – Marshmallow.

The cocktails were so well received – thank you! The Working From Home cocktail was absolutely delicious. And thank you for turning it around so quickly.” Lisa – BrandOpus

With large social gatherings postponed for birthday and family celebrations, you can also organise a virtual cocktail party for your friends and family.  Cheers!

Halo Drinks is partnered with The Duke of Hamilton pub, Hampstead, London.  If you live nearby, why not call in to sample these specialist cocktails.  This popular tavern opened in 1721 – so next year will be a fabulous celebration on its 300th birthday!  With rich cultural heritage, it’s the hub of the local community.

Halo Drinks are served at the Duke of Hamilton Pub, Hampstead

Celebrated for for their extraordinary ability to consume copious amounts of alcohol, as much as their acting skills, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole and Oliver Reed were regulars here. I think these serious drinkers would have approved of Halo Cocktails.

Oliver Reed, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole – boozing buddies

To find out more about the range of cocktails and bar service, delivering drinks for parties at home and hospitality events at work, take a look at the website.

And to entice you, the good news is that £1 per bottle sold is donated to a charitable cause. This month Halo Drinks has selected to support Black Lives Matter.

Tommy’s Margarita from Halo Drinks – get the party started!

The Balvenie Stories: ‘The Edge of Burnhead Wood’ 19-Year-Old – a legendary new single malt to savour this summer

The story starts with a sprig of heather …

Actually, it starts, like all stories, with inspiration. “Stories are the lifeblood of The Balvenie Distillery and are deeply embedded in all the work we do” says The Balvenie Malt Master, David C Stewart MBE.

The Balvenie Distillery, established 1893

This particular chapter in the history of the distillery is marked by release of The Edge of Burnhead Wood 19-Year-Old, the latest expression to join its celebrated The Balvenie Stories range.

It’s a story that “captures the majestic Speyside landscape and the inventive essence of The Balvenie’s loyal and determined craftspeople.”

The history of whisky making in Dufftown, in the ancient parish of Mortlach, Moray is long and celebrated. Situated on the river Fiddich and with relatively mild, damp winters and cool, cloudy summers the town would go on to produce more malt than any other in Scotland and become “The Whisky Capital of the World”.

The town was founded in 1817 by James Duff, 4th Earl of Fife to give employment to soldiers returning from the Napoleonic wars.

James Duff, 4th Earl of Fife

The Clan family of William Grant had been in the area even longer, and he had over 20 years’ experience in the whisky industry before establishing the Glenfiddich Distillery there in 1887.  Success would see him develop The Balvenie Distillery in a nearby converted mansion in May of 1893 using second-hand “seasoned” stills, known to be capable of producing good whisky.

Balvenie would be a sister to Glenfiddich but came to be known as more “craft” and esoteric, experimenting and producing limited editions, but all of undisputed quality: rich, luxuriously smooth and underpinned by the distinctively honeyed character.

The distillery is only one of a handful with its own malting floor and the only to carry out all the “Five Rare Crafts” on-site. It still grows its own barley, uses traditional floor maltings and keeps both coppersmiths and coppers on site, making The Balvenie the most handcrafted of single malts.

The distillery “remains true to the techniques and stories passed down by its craftsmen from generation to generation, while also looking forward by exploring new techniques, flavours and marriages to develop unique and original Balvenie expressions.”

The Balvenie Stories Collection

And that is what these stories are all about. The Four “chapters” created since May 2019 are a collection of single malt whiskies representing tales of character, endeavour and generational knowledge gathered at the Balvenie Distillery.  These are narratives peopled by the crafts people sowing the barley, firing the kiln, watching and mending the coppers, making casks. The whisky tells its own story, the taste holding memoirs of its making from the origin of the casks and barley to notes on perhaps a little added peat or heather or the toasting of the barrel.

The Sweet Toast of American Oak 12-Year-Old tells the story of the things that can happen when an ancient technique meets fresh ideas with the use of cask finishing in Virgin Oak barrels from Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky.

A Week of Peat 14-Year-Old is a tale of a return to the way The Balvenie used to be made, and of an experimentation with extra peatiness.

A Day of Dark Barley 26-Year-Old tells of experimentation with oven-roasted barley to make changes at the point of distillation.

The latest story, The Edge of Burnhead Wood 19-Year-Old, launched in May 2020, is one of exploration and craft. It is the first ever expression of The Balvenie to be made entirely from ingredients grown on the estate. Inspiration comes from the winding paths through the steep Speyside hills surrounding the distillery leading to a moor of heather, the “wee modest crimson-tipped flower.”

Heather in its various forms cloaks some 4 to 5 million acres of the Scottish landscape and peat contains centuries of it in compressed form, but this story retraces that search for a local ingredient.  The answer, of course, came from local knowledge and the distillery worker who knew where it lay. The journey up the rolling hills reveals views of Dufftown below, before passing through the barley field and towards the tree line. It’s a path that would have been well known to William Grant and perhaps smugglers and bootleggers. The acidic ground underfoot becomes wetter, the snow melt feeding the heather and the same spring water used to produce the whisky.

The process of discovery and experimentation at the point of distillation back in 2000 would fondly come to be known as “The Heather Trials”. With a twist to the tale the hopes nearly went up in smoke.  Concern that the sap within the herbal, earthy newly cut heather might introduce a bitter edge led to it being left to dry before use, but when added to the kiln – whoosh, and it was gone!  Luckily experience would win out and dampened and laid on top of dark coals over glowing red-hot it gives off a blue grey plume of smoke.

There are back stories of worries of low supplies of malt and water, that there might be “no more turning the floor”.  The main theme is one of tradition but with a lot of experimentation as well.  And time, always time.  Things happen at a slower pace at The Balvenie.  The people who were featured at the beginning of the adventure are only now seeing the end, some twenty years on.

The end?   Well the conclusion is the whisky itself.

The outcome produced something different, as intended with the typical honey sweetness but tempered down. Not fruity on the nose, it’s rather fresher and slightly herbal. The flavour softens in the mouth, oak dryness and warmth opening up into richer dried fruit and a hint of spice. The finish is very long and lingering, slightly sweet and floral.

“The Edge of Burnhead Wood,” a heather scented ‘legendary’ single malt

As a prologue, the story telling is also carried through to the packaging with a bespoke illustration by Andy Lovell, evoking the light and atmosphere of the distillery’s landscape.

And as an epilogue for those similarly fascinated with the parallels between storytelling and whisky- making, The Balvenie has produced a book exploring the themes of endeavour, endurance, determination and resolve.  Pursuit: The Balvenie Stories Collection, contains seventeen stories taking us from the Australian outback to a Hong Kong cafe, from the writing desk of F. Scott Fitzgerald to the vast emptiness of the Antarctic.

Pour a dram and immerse yourself in this traveller’s tale across moorland heather, its scent distilled in this new single malt.

The Balvenie

The Edge of Burnhead Wood 19-Year-Old was launched globally on 1st May 2020 and available from select whisky retailers, RRP £260.00

The entire Balvenie Stories collection is currently available in select whisky retailers, at the following prices; The Sweet Toast of American Oak 12-Year-Old (RRP £45.00), The Week of Peat 14-Year-Old (RRP £65.00) and A Day of Dark Barley 26-Year-Old (RRP £600.00).