The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company – the only Cheddar made in Cheddar – preserves a thick, tasty slice of English Heritage.

The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, the only dairy in the village of Cheddar, Somerset, produces authentic cheese, recreating the ancient 12th century craft and tradition.  

Although versions of cheddar are made today around the world, the original cheese was produced in Cheddar dating back to 1170. With the absence of refrigeration the problem of how to store surplus milk was solved by turning it into cheese. Cheesemakers discovered that if you pressed the fresh curd to squeeze out the moisture, the cheese lasted much longer, transforming milk to ensure ‘the perfect food’ was available all year round.

The Cheddar Gorge features a series of caves which provided the ideal chilled environment for maturing the cheese.

This fine cheese became popular with the aristocracy and received Royal patronage. The Great Roll of the Exchequer records that in 1170 King Henry II purchased 10,240 lb  (4.6 tons) of Cheddar Cheese at a farthing per pound totalling £10.13s 4d.  He declared it to be the best in Britain and his son, Prince John, continued to serve Somerset cheddar cheese at banquets. 

King Henry 11, Patron of Cheddar cheese

In the 19th century, Joseph Harding, a Somerset dairyman was known as “the father of Cheddar cheese” for inventing the revolving breaker for curd cutting, saving hard manual labour.

Harding believed that Cheddar cheese is “not made in the field, nor in the byre, nor even in the cow, it is made in the dairy.” Joseph Harding and his wife were key pioneers in the introduction of the cheese into Scotland and North America. 

The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, Cheddar

The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, formerly a tourist shop selling fudge, sweets, cards and making “a bit of cheddar in the back room,” was taken over in 2003 by John and Katherine Spencer with entrepreneurial vision. With previous long experience in the dairy industry, they have developed their successful, independent, Artisan business through extensive research, experimentation and plenty of passion. 

The cheese is hand made in the traditional way from unpasteurised raw milk delivered to the dairy each morning from one local farm, and the truckles are slowly matured, wrapped in muslin cloths.

“Using only fresh, local, unpasteurised milk, we preserve the original character of our namesake. This, we believe, is our responsibility and privilege.”  John and Katherine Spencer

In 2006, the Spencers had the innovative idea to reintroduce the unique, traditional method of storing cheese in the Cheddar Gorge Caves, which has significant influence on flavour and texture – Gough’s Cave is the original, historical Cheddar Cheese larder.

Cheddar Gorge Caves – cheese is matured for 12 months

The Company produces 60 tons of cheese each year. It takes about 10 litres of milk to make 1 kilogram of cheddar.  In total about 333,000 tons of cheddar are produced in the UK per year.

So, now the important question, how is their authentic Cheddar Cheese made?

All cheese is made in a similar way. It’s a process that transforms milk into curds and whey. The whey is drained and the curd remains; this curd is already ‘fresh’ cheese.

Cheddaring involves cutting, turning and stacking blocks of curd, allowing it to cool, drain further and ‘knit’ together again over a period of time.

After pressing in moulds, the whole cheeses are dressed in traditional cotton/muslin cloth before being transferred to the maturing stores. The use of cheesecloth is a vital and historical way of allowing the cheese to gradually dry and develop a rind.

Whole cheeses weigh around 26Kg and are matured slowly. Generally, the older the cheese, the stronger the flavour. Our youngest mellow cheddars are around six months old and the oldest cheddar is usually around two years old.

Now – time to sample a selection of three cheeses from the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company.

A selection of Cheddar Gorge cheese

Vintage Cheddar (aged for 20 – 26 months)

A robust mighty strong cheese – extended maturing time resulting in a more vibrant, nutty cheddar with drier harder body”   Best Cheddar at both the World and British Cheese Awards

The taste test:  The slow, slow production over two years is like the finely crafted creation of a fine vintage wine. With its thin grey rind, it is certainly very hard, similar in texture to Parmesan, with a pungent, punchy strong flavour.  You only need a thin slice – (so economical!) – to experience the extraordinary rich creamy taste.  Marvellously, majestically mature. King Henry 11 would approve.

It’s a hearty cheese ideal for Toasted Cheese or even better, Welsh Rarebit; as they say, when the leaves fall in Autumn and Winter, the cheese melts.

Welsh Rarebit –  ‘caws pobi’, which is Welsh for toasted cheese. This simple, homely dish of toasted bread covered in melted cheese and topped with mustard and spices has been popular since the 1500s – the first recorded reference was Welsh Rabbit, although it never had rabbit in it.!

A 16th-century tale tells how God asked Saint Peter to get rid of the Welsh from heaven, as they kept causing a ruckus. Saint Peter stomped outside the Pearly Gates and shouted ‘caws pobi!’, to which all the Welshmen duly tumbled out excitedly, allowing the gates to be slammed shut behind them.

As a traditional dish it has its own national day – September 3rd is Welsh Rarebit Day.

There are various recipes but this is rather tasty. “When you’re cold, tired and hungry, nothing beats this posh cheese on toast,” say the Hairy bikers.

Caws Popi – Welsh Rarebit – Gourmet Toasted Cheese

Welsh Rarebit  – serves 4.

25g butter   25g plain flour, 110 ml strong dark beer, 150 g mature Cheddar, grated, 1 free range egg yolk, 1 tsp English mustard,  pinch of Cayenne pepper, 4sp Worcester sauce, 4 thick slices granary or wholemeal bread, freshly ground pepper.  

Preheat the grill to high.  Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook over a low heat for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Slowly add the beer. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until the sauce is thick and smooth.

Add the cheese, egg yolk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper, Stir constantly, until the cheese melts. Season with freshly ground black pepper and set aside.   Place the bread on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil and toast on each side until golden-brown. Spread the cheese sauce thickly over the bread, making sure the slices are completely covered so the edges don’t burn. Return to the grill for 20-30 seconds longer until lightly browned and bubbling. 

Add a fried egg for a nourishing, Cheesey feast, a Buck Rarebit.

Cave matured (aged for 12 months)

Matured in the natural Cheddar Gorge cave, the natural environment with constant temperature and humidity provide perfect conditions.  A unique, complex cheddar flavour.

Silver Medal, British Cheese Awards, Bronze Medal, World Cheese Awards. 

The taste test: Lighter in texture than the Vintage with a distinctive, slightly smoked flavour – almost crumbly like a Cheshire, but a seriously fine mature cheddar.  

Serve with a selection of crisp crackers and water biscuits, slices of British apple – perhaps Cox Orange Pippen or Russet – and sweet, fruity Quince jellyAlternatively, the classic accompaniment of chutney or pickle.

Oak Smoked Cheese (aged for 6 months)

When we say smoking, we mean smoking! Cold smoked over smouldering oak chippings from old whisky barrels. Think bonfire night or wood burning stoves.”

Champion cheese, Devon County show, (the first time a smoked cheddar won the category). Gold, 2018 and 2019.

The taste test.  Wow! is the word, this is so distinctively unique.  Earthy with a hint of truffle, this is intensely smoky, like a sipping a dram of Laphroaig or Bowmore single malt from Islay, with a subtle seaweed saltiness. The oak chippings from the whisky barrels have done their work brilliantly. 

To some astute or sensitive palates, the strength of smokiness is also reminiscent of  smoked fish such as salmon or kippers.

 Enjoy a slither or two with chunky bread or crackers; With the complex layer of flavours, this would also jazz up a Wild Mushroom or Butternut Squash Risotto which often have the addition, respectively, of Parmesan and Gorgonzola.  Just sprinkle this delectable cheese on top of these dishes would add the perfect, rich, smoky creaminess.

Cheese Straws

The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is also renowned for their Cheese Straws.  These are handmade with puff pastry and mature cheddar.

Cheese Straws – so buttery!

Best to warm in the oven for a few minutes although they can be nibbled cold. Stuffed with 37% of cheddar in each straw, these are seriously cheesy and crispy.  Like a Ploughman’s Lunch baked as a thick, flaky biscuit. The rich buttery texture is amazing.

Cheddar Cheese with Cheese Straws for a Ploughman’s lunch

The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Co. certainly do preserve a thick, tasty slice and slab of English Heritage with their high quality, traditional Cheddar Cheese.

Visit the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Co. Shop in Cheddar, Somerset where you can taste samples of the complete range including Mellow, Extra Mature, Vintage, Cave Matured, Oak Smoked and Herb, Cider and Port flavours

Purchase cheese, pickles and preserves, cheese straws, savoury biscuits and crackers as well as pottery, cheeseboards and cheese knives. 

“Cheese your Bundle” – choose your choice of three or six portions of Cheddar from the wide range.  Christmas and corporate gifts, hampers and selection packs of cheese and accompaniments.

The Visitor Centre –  Small groups are welcome by appointment to watch the cheesemakers at work on a 30 minute tour which also features a film showing the complete process. 

Browse the website for all information on produce, visiting the shop and on line purchase.

Online mail order: efficient, eco-friendly next day delivery. 

www.cheddaronline.co.uk

The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Co.

The Cliffs, Cheddar, Somerset, BS27 3QA

Tel. 01934 742810

Cheddar Gorge Cheese is also available at a wide selection of Farm shops and Delis around the country, including:

Riches Cider – Highbridge, Somerset, Whiterow Farm Shop – Frome, Wiltshire, Owtons At Country Market – near Haslemere in Hampshire, Village Larder – Washington, West Sussex, Allington Farm Shop – Chippenham, Wiltshire, Royal Windsor Farm Shop – Windsor, A F Blakemore & Sons – Darlaston (Nr Wolverhampton), Cobbs of Engleford – Theale, Reading, Berkshire, Brace of Butchers – Dorchester, Darts Farm Shop – Topsham, Exeter, Devon

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

Solace

Botanical paintings by Julie Croft & photographs by Alexander Van Der Byl, Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh.

Solace – as defined in the dictionary, a noun to mean “comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness.”

During this difficult, disruptive year to normal life, work and travel, many people have been inspired by nature – whether city park, country ramble or a wind-blown stroll along a beach.  This strange, surreal time at home has given the opportunity to listen to bird song and observe blossoming flowers in Spring and now the changing trees in Autumn.

Julie Croft studied illustration at Leicester Polytechnic, and then developed her artistic technique and medium as a mural artist during the 1980’s and 1990’s.  Today, her paintings are on a much smaller scale, working at her home in Edinburgh.

The theme of Nature and the Landscape has inspired Julie over the past few months, during the worst times of lockdown, the brighter days through the summer and now heading through the Autumn into Winter.  Here is a most wonderful series of her botanical illustrations and miniature landscapes.

So take a look back to the emerging flourish of plants during April and May with charming watercolours such as Spring Greens.  These slender twigs with their tiny leaves and burst of buds is beautifully sketched and painted in soft colours with such delicate detail.

Moving on swiftly into June and July, blossom blooms with a whiff of Summer Scent from three flowers, which look like, a pink poppy, white daisies and lilac grape hyacinth.  They do transport you into the garden on a warm summer day.

On a walk in October, it’s all about berries, conkers and all the leaves turning golden brown.  This is another charming trio, with a small, dry, curled up leaf, in Autumn Berries. 

And a wonderful collection of golden, sand and burgundy leaves fallen from the trees in the soft shades of the Fall.

Winter Trees is a lovely pencil and watercolour sketch which perfectly sums up the chilly days at the dark end of a year in Nature.

 The wet dawn inks are doing their blue dissolve.
On their blotter of fog the trees
Seem a botanical drawing —
Memories growing, ring on ring,
A series of weddings.

Winter Trees, Sylvia Plath

Julie Croft also paints atmospheric land and seascapes – watercolours on Daler Rowney paper which create a richly textured backdrop. These intimate, small scale scenes are so pleasing to the eye.

At the other side of the gallery is a collection of photographs by Alexander Van Der Byl who is in his final year as a Photography Student at Edinburgh College of Art.

A successful career is already on the cards as this year he was awarded the Astaire Art Prize 2020.  It is presented for outstanding undergraduate work by a third or fourth-year student at the ECA, founded by Mark Astaire, a University of Edinburgh Politics graduate and investment banking professional. This year four winners were chosen from a shortlist of twenty artists, each receiving £250.

“I could see all the students produced such wonderful and varied collections of work. It was difficult, but I had so much fun trying to select just four works!”  Mark Astaire 

“ … work that is sophisticated, intelligent and dynamic.” Gordon Brennan, School of Art Painting Lecturer

The Anticipation of Change, Alexander Van Der Byl

Van Der Byl’s award winning photograph is entitled The Anticipation of Change, which was taken in a former carpet shop in Leith; shabby, peeling flock wallpaper, tartan lino, blue carpet, gas meter, the table laid with a teapot and glasses, beneath a Vettriano print of the “The Billy Boys” on the wall. A cold, empty room perhaps, but there is a sense of pride and belonging in what is someone’s business.

This photograph is part of a series called “Return to Sender, No Such Address” of ten Hahnemühle German Etching Photograhic prints, “documenting the process of leaving a domestic space, (and) explores a presence which is transient and short lasting.” 

Home from Work, Alexander Van Der Byl

Home from Work focuses on another empty room, with an enticing warm light shining through the open door, perhaps the kitchen and a meal being prepared for the person arriving back home at the end of the day. With shimmering shadows and a half hidden portrait, this is such a haunting image.

Again, a fascinating glimpse of a domestic scene, with a television, an empty bookshelf, plant, vase, lamp in Rocking Horse Winner – the blurred effect of a child’s toy horse cleverly depicting a flash of movement.

Rocking Horse Winner, Alexander van der Byl

Here are also a few black and white portraits, which capture the thoughtful facial expression of the subject, in a quiet, quick, snap shot moment.

Portrait of a girl, Alexander Van Der Byl

From Julie’s painterly nature walk through gardens, woodland and the seashore, enter Alexander’s contemplative world of deserted rooms and streets.  With their distinctively different artistic vision, they share a theme of nostalgic memory, time past and present, the experience of isolation and silence, with a comforting, joyful sense of peace. Solace indeed.

SOLACE – Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas St, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

17th – 24th October, 2020. 11am – 6pm daily.

Exhibition closes Saturday 24th, 2pm

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

Land, Sea and Sky – majestic coastal paintings by Steven Hood at the Dundas Street, Gallery, Edinburgh

It is not only this sense of place but the uniqueness of experience at a specific moment in time.   These new paintings offer a kind of permanence to that experience, to what was observed and more importantly for what was felt. Steven Hood

Steven Hood painting En Plein Air

Steven Hood studied drawing and painting at the Edinburgh College of Art (1985-89) and has enjoyed a prestigious career with regular solo exhibitions at private galleries, and amongst numerous others, at the Society of Scottish Artists, Noble Grossart Award and the Royal Scottish Academy.

Living and working in the Edinburgh, the foreshore around Granton has been a favourite stomping ground since childhood.  With such a close affinity to the iconic views over Firth of Forth, here is a magnificent, moody seascape, ‘Haar over Cramond Island.’  

Haar over Cramond Island

For those who don’t know the word, Haar: noun – a cold sea mist off the North Sea. Just a vague glimpse of the distant island can be seen through a hazy light struggling to break through the mass of greyness.

Haar Enveloping Inchkeith Island

The fine perspective in ‘Haar Enveloping Inchkeith Island’ leads the eye from the grassy sandy cover, rocks and lapping waves to the slither of an island lost in the fog on the horizon. These two mesmerising scenes, enveloped in a semi opaque, soft light, convey the chilly, swirling haar, with such delicate atmospheric quality.

Following in the brushstrokes of the pioneering Impressionists, Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh et al, Steven Hood likes to paint natural landscapes outside “en plein air,” for a personal, direct response to swiftly changing light and weather.

Evening Sky, Gamrie Bay

A recent trip to the Aberdeenshire coastline shows he is a master at capturing the movement and patterning of clouds. Like the artist, in “Evening Sky, Gamrie Bay,” near Gardenstown, we too stand on the beach under a wide shimmering sky in the rosy dusk.

Van Gogh was fascinated by wheat fields, painted again and again with cypress trees, reaper or birds.  Hood also depicts the glorious golden harvest, the tall stalks bent over in the sea breeze in “Cliff Top Wheat Fields, Aberdeenshire.”  The blocks of bold colour are most effective.

Clifftop Wheat Fields, Aberdeenshire

Observing the light over the seashore at the end of the day is very much a recurring theme, such as the ambient detail in “Setting Sun, the Mouth of the River Almond.” The dark waves and grey rain clouds contrast with a glimmer of pink rays casting a faint glint on the water.

Setting Sun, Mouth of River Almond

Most inspiring is a duet of sunsets, “snapped” quickly over a few minutes on 26th June, looking over to Fife.   This is all part of his aim to seize the likeness of a place at a specific moment, akin to a painterly photograph.

Setting Sun over Fife, 26th June

A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone. 
― John Steinbeck, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’

After the Sunset, 26th June

Turner created hundreds of sketches and paintings of different weather conditions, especially clouds and rain such as “Beach, English coast” (1835).

Beach, English Coast c.1835-40 Joseph Mallord William Turner

With similar powerful abstract expression, “Rain Clouds over Inchkeith Island,” the slanting, lashing downfall dramatically evoked with a flurry of thick, brash, brushstrokes.

Rain Clouds over Inchkeith Island

Art is more than a visual response, and Steven Hood clearly conveys the enriching emotional experience, a real sense of place.

These paintings are even more powerful when viewed in the gallery and this is a great space to stand back and observe the wild natural beauty of the Scottish coastline. They recall so poignantly the sentiment of Masefield’s poem, “I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky.”

Land, Sea and Sky – Steven Hood

Saturday 10th October to Wednesday 14th October 2020 

10.30am – 5.30pm

Dundas Street Gallery. 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ 

Social distancing measures will allow for 6 people in the gallery at any given time. Masks must be worn and hand sanitiser will be provided. 

Visit the website to view the exhibition www.stevenhoodartist.com

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: http://www.faulknerwine.com

Judith I. Bridgland showcases wild Scottish seascapes at the Grilli Gallery, Edinburgh

GRILLI GALLERY, 20a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

A solo exhibition of paintings by Judith I. Bridgland

26th September to 22nd October, 2020

Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri 11am to 4pm; Saturday 10.00am to 1.00pm  Closed Sunday & Wednesday

Tel: 0131 261 4264  –  http://www.art-grilli.co.uk/

Low Tide, North Berwick

Born in Australia, Judith I. Bridgland came to Scotland as a young child and later studied at University of Glasgow, graduating with a MA, (Honours) in History of Fine Art and English Literature.  She specialises in seascapes around the British Isles.

This exhibition takes tour around the coastline of Scotland, from East Lothian to Aberdeenshire, Sutherland to the Outer Hebrides.  The iconic pudding shape of the Bass Rock, North Berwick, takes centre stage in “Sun on the Sand,”  a stunning composition of sweeping stripes and layers to denote the wide sandy beach, seaweed, rockpools leading the eye to the distant bird colony island.

Sun on the Sand, North Berwick

“Two Figures on the Beach at Sunset,”  features a tiny dot of a couple who can just be seen at the edge of the breaking waves, under a coral-tinted sky. The flourish of thick brush strokes creates a wildly impressionistic perspective with vibrant colour and atmospheric energy.

Two Figures on the Beach

The Isle of Harris must be a favourite place for Bridgland, who has painted several different scenic views to capture its white sand beaches and wild natural environment.   This reminds me of an amazing story.

West Beach, Berneray, Outer Hebrides (photograph)

About ten years ago, to save the time and expense to send a media photographer to Kai Bae, Thailand Tourism simply googled images on line and ‘borrowed’ one of West Beach, Berneray instead. But the enticing promotional image was soon identified as taken in the Outer Hebrides.!

The natural “tropical” beauty around Harris is certainly an artist’s paradise.

Across to Luskentyre

Here is the lush, languid beauty of Luskentyre with its long, curving bay, undulating dunes etched with machair grasses, framed by the mountain peaks beyond.

In “Clouds over Luskentyre”  and “Grasses on the Beach”, you really feel that you are standing on the seashore with a whiff of salty sea air in a warm breeze.

Clouds over Luskentyre

 

Grasses on the Beach, Harris

It is fascinating to learn more about how Judith Bridgland starts the slow creative process for her landscapes:

“I start off by going to visit a location, taking a large set of photographs with two different cameras. I take hundreds and hundreds of photographs getting to understand the landscape, and seeing it in various lights and preferably at different times of the day. I will take shots of the same scene from multiple different angles, and also take samples of earth and sands to remind myself of colours.

I will return to the same place again and again, not to repeat scenes, to copy or replicate – this is an exercise in releasing yourself from merely recording the rhythm of the landscape, and experiment with texture, light and colour. It is a way of building on your understanding of a place, adding depth and pushing yourself in terms of technique.”

Observing the same seashores across the seasons and from dawn to dusk, must be inspirational and, at times, challenging to perfect the painting.  For a prime example of experimenting with texture, light and colour, the burst of a golden glow in “Sunrise in October” is a majestic seascape.   A tangible sense of movement in the lapping waves, flurry of clouds here …. and take a close look to the far eft hand side to spot what appears to be the glint of a lighthouse perched on a rock.

Sunrise, October

There is a mix of full scale paintings, oil on linen or board, as well as smaller studies in acrylic.  These will surely entice you to plan a Staycation trip around the Scottish seashore – perhaps an island hopping cruise around the Hebrides – for the great escape.   Around the gallery too are botanical studies, lovely vases of lilies and roses to brighten your home this winter.

White Lillies

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. (www.cheddaronline.co.uk)

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.

https://www.tempestbrewco.com/browse

https://www.tempestbrewco.com/events

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

PURE Lite – the topical, trendsetting, low alcohol Vodka for cool, contemporary cocktails: half the calories, twice the fun

PURE Organic Vodka was launched onto the UK spirits market on 4th July 2019 with an exclusive boat party on the Thames. This exciting new product from WM Spirits soon made a splash around the country and secured drinks listings in bars and leisure venues such as the W Hotel, Cafe de Paris and Champneys Spa.

It was 2016, the time of the Instagram boom and the health and fitness, organic, vegan, ‘clean living’ craze. Drinks orders amongst the lads was moving away from pints to vodka soda & lime. I felt that there was more to this than just a change of drink and if it was happening in my local, I knew it would be happening elsewhere.”

Adam Player, Founder PURE organic vodka

The Founder, Adam Player with friends, at the launch of Pure Vodka, 2019.

PURE was inspired by a health-conscious, environmentally friendly, social lifestyle: Organic, vegan friendly, gluten free, with no additives, preservatives, carbs or thickeners and as minimal calories as possible. Pure, indeed.

After this early success, to celebrate its first birthday in July 2020, WM Spirits created PURE Lite, a low calorie, organic vodka with just 20% ABV compared to the standard 40%.

The launch of PURE Lite Vodka is timely and trendsetting, in response to an increased preference and demand for zero and low-alcohol beers, wines and spirits, with sales up 23% year on year. The growth comes as younger generations drink less alcohol and older people increasingly moderate their consumption.

PURE Vodka is an ultra-premium, clean, organic spirit, built on the foundation of high-quality raw ingredients and owing its unique taste to organic wheat.  The wheat is distilled to maximum purity removing any remaining impurities to create a light, smooth-tasting vodka.

This innovative brand has recently won a silver medal, competing against 83 entries in the 2020 Vodka Masters category at The Spirit Business Awards, less than two months after their 1st birthday in July.

So, time to taste and test this new Pure Lite low alcohol vodka.

The name vodka is a diminutive form of the Slavic word voda (water), interpreted as little water:  Russia and Poland both claim vodka as their own invention, with the word ‘wodka’ recorded in Poland as early as 1405, a strong liquor of around 75% ABV.

The slender glass bottle of PURE Lite vodka has a decorative, crystal-cut design, like a classic Low Ball, Old Fashioned tumbler, used for serving neat spirits or a cocktail on the rocks. Comfortable to hold and practical for a firm grip.

PURE Lite – an elegant, slender bottle with decorative cut-glass design

The term Martini was first listed Thomas Stuart’s guide, Fancy Drinks published in 1896, featuring a recipe for the Gin-based cocktail with vermouth and orange bitters.  This became a fashionable aperitif spreading from American bars to UK, France and Italy, notably promoted on the European travels of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

For four decades, Ted Saucier was publicist for the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City, and in 1951 published a book on cocktails, Bottoms Up including the first recipe for the innovative Vodkatini.

Bottoms Up, by Ted Saucier (1951)

PURE Vodkatini

60ml PURE Organic Vodka or LITE vodka

15ml Dry Vermouth

Fill shaker with ice and add the measures of Vodka and Dry Vermouth

Shake well, strain and pour into cocktail glass. Garnish with olives

I would normally order a dry gin Martini, believing that the lack of herbal botanicals in vodka would not be such a flavoursome cocktail.  I was wrong. My PURE Lite Vodkatini had such a clean taste, deliciously dry  which hit the spot.

Through the 1950s and 60s, Vodka was a relatively new spirit being introduced in the States, marketed and promoted by celebrity entertainers including Benny Goodman, Harpo Marx and Woody Allen et al.

The classic Gin Martini was then literally shaken up by Ian Fleming at the Duke’s Bar, London where the novelist created the legendary, literary-inspired Vesper Martini.

Duke’s Bar, Duke’s Hotel, London – where the Vesper Martini was invented.

The precise recipe for a Vesper is given by James Bond to the bar tender in the novel Casino Royale, (1953).

“A Dry Martini”, he said. “ In a deep champagne goblet.”

“Oui, monsieur.”

“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordons gin, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

“Certainly, monsieur.” The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

from ‘Casino Royale’, Ian Fleming

Be warned, the Vesper is a tad strong and at Dukes Bar – where this famous house cocktail is crafted and poured with perfection from freezer-chilled ingredients – the rule is a limit of two per person. This special Vodkatini is named after Vesper Lynd, Bond’s beautiful Girl in Casino Royale.

Vodka is also, of course, the key ingredient of a Bloody Mary, said to be the finest “hair of the dog” the morning after the night before. Almost one hundred years old, it was invented at Harry’s Bar, Paris, by Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot, combining vodka and tomato juice, allegedly named after the Hollywood movie star, Mary Pickford.

By 1934, Petiot had become head bartender at the St. Regis, New York, where he was asked to spice up the Bloody Mary for a customer and so added a few drops of Tabasco. The recipe was adapted over the years with Worcester Sauce, horseradish, (optional), a garnish of olives, lemon and a stick of celery to use as a swizzle stick.

There is a fine tradition to sip a spicy Bloody Mary around 12 noon when at sea on a cruise ship. Tomato juice and lemon are an excellent source of Vitamin C and it’s either a refreshing, ice cold drink or a hearty, spicy drink, whatever the climate.

Bloody Mary time, 12 noon on the Silver Whisper – a seafaring tradition.

With Pure Lite Vodka, you would never realise the low alcohol content so the perfect, healthy, vitamin-rich cocktail.  The ideal partnership for a Sunday Brunch.

Being in the contemporary,  youthful lifestyle business, PURE has devised its own playlist  covering music genres from soul to pop, hip-hop and raps. Cool Sounds as you sip your Vodka cocktails.

Search ‘PURE Vodka’ on Spotify.

To find out more about PURE Organic Vodka and the new PURE LITE vodka, places to drink and where to purchase, as well as cocktail ideas, take a browse around the website.

http://www.wmspirits.co.uk